REPORT: Clifton RFC 24 – 42 Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV 10th April

 22 points from scrum half Morgan Thompson helped give Ealing Trailfinders a deserved victory away at Clifton last Saturday. Other results in N2S went the Vallis Way teams way as well, as Southend overcame Rosslyn Park in a nail biting 32-29 win. These results mean that Ealing are now level with Park on points, but are 3rd by virtue of Park’s better playing record.

It does however leave the door ajar for Ealing to get a sniff of a possible promotion play off spot on offer against the second placed side in National 2 North. Both teams have three games left to play, so each match will be like a cup final!

Ealing’s victory also spelled the end to Clifton’s unbeaten home record. A record that the team were aware of before the visit to Station Road. Director of rugby, Mike Cudmore said before "Clifton have not been beaten at home this season and so it will be a touch task for us on Saturday".

So this proved to be the case, as Ealing recorded their 19th win of the season, but not without Clifton putting up a real battle.

Ealing played with  high tempo & ambition for the full 80 minutes as the weeks of wet weather gave way to spring sunshine and firm ground . The hosts Clifton played a full part in this entertaining game, that saw the two teams share nine tries.

Full back Pete Hodgkinson continued this seasons fine form, causing the home sides defence problems on numerous occasions. Ealing Trailfinders took an early lead as Clifton were penalised in the first minute for offside. Scrum half Morgan Thompson calmly slotted the first of his three penalties. Clifton’s full back Sam Smee, crossed the Ealing line on 15 minutes after good work by the home sides forwards to put him clear.

Ealing extended their lead when lock Gethin Davies crashed over the line, Thompson again proving to have his kicking boots on to take the score to 10-5 to the visitors on 18 minutes. Then twoquick tires, one apiece, bought the game to life, first to the outstanding Ealing blindside flanker Luke Wallace, who went over after some good phase play, again Thompson converted on 36 minutes before following good work by Clifton’s centre Leonard went over for a solo try, converted by Barnes to take Ealing into the half time break 17-12 ahead.

Clifton started the second half on the front foot as the ball was shipped their own danger man,wing Rob Viol crossed to take the home side into a 19-17 lead.

Ealing responded with tries three minutes apart as firstly number 8 Guthrie Hall capped a fine performance as he crossed for his8th  of the season, followed by wing Owen Bruynseels on  49 minutes. Morgan Thompson converted both to stretch their lead to 33-17.

Clifton pulled a try back on 67 minutes as flanker Dean Taylor- Menzies following a catch and drive to bring the score line back to 33-22 with just over 13 minutes left to play.

Thompson extended the lead with two further penalties on 56 and 79 minutes before he crossed for a well deserved try on 81 minutes which he himself converted to take his personal haul to 22 points in a great all round man of the match display.

Scrum half Morgan Thompson said after the game "It was a great effort by all players to keep such quick tempo throughout the 80 minutes considering the heat. I heard it got up to 22 degrees! There is always room for improvement, which im sure we will address during training as we missed a couple of opportunities.The race for promotion is getting exciting now and if we put in performances like we did against Clifton in our remaining 3 games, I am confident that we will be in that play off for National 1!" 

Clifton’ player/coach, Matt Slater was full of praise for the Vallis Way side’s style of play. He said after the game, "This was Ealing’s cup final today, and they were really up for the game. We are very disappointed to have lost our unbeaten home record," but Ealing played with a high tempo and combined with a solid set pieces and a good work rate throughout and were good value for the win.

Ealing’s fly half Ben Ward  commenting after the game said  "It was a good game of rugby, two teams that like to play attacking styles. We were pleased to go to Clifton and take all 5 points. They had not been beaten at home so this made it even more satisfying".

For photos of today’s game please visit the club’s online gallery.

Jay King was full of praise for his young side "It was great performance this weekend, Clifton are a great rugby playing side. They play with a lot of width and really tested us. To pick up an away bonus point at Clifton is a great result for us, especially as they were unbeaten there this season. As we close in on the end of the season we need to be striving for these types of big performances".

This weekend Ealing Trailfinders return to Vallis Way for their penultimate home game, as the entertain Barnes RFC, a game postponed from December.

Kick off is 3pm and the game is being sponsored by MSL Limited.

There is also an ex Colts reunion Lunch. Please contact secretary Les O’Gorman to reserve your place

Ealing Trailfinders team

15 – Pete Hodgkinson ,14 – Phil Chesters, 13 – Markus Burcham , 12 – Joe Price ,11 – Owen Bruynseels, 10 – Ben Ward, 9 – Morgan Thompson, 8 – Guthrie Hall, 7 –  Jay King (C), 6 –  Luke Wallace , 5 – Gethin Davies , 4 – Ryan  Gregory,  3 – Dinos Alexopoulos, 2 – Jon Moyce, 1 – Sungo Kuwana

16 – Rob Buchanan, 17 – Steve Neville , 18- James Winterbottom, 19 – Dave  Essien, 20 –  Richard Briggs