Just five days after lifting the MMT Division 1 trophy, Ealing Amateurs were in action again under the foodlights at Vallis Way as they took on Harrow 1st XV for a place in the final of the North West Middlesex Floodlit Cup. They knew they would have to play to their full potential to overcome a team who had just sealed promotion from Herts/Middlesex 1, but having beaten two other sides from the same league in friendlies earlier in the season knew that the game was definitely winnable. In the event the Amateurs executed their game plan with impressive precision and gusto and dominated from ten minutes into the game, eventually outscoring the visitors by seven tries to one.
The opening exchanges were fairly even as the two teams probed for weaknesses, but it was Ealing who opened the scoring when centre Jonathan Knott slotted over a penalty awarded for offside. However, this lead was cancelled out by a Harrow penalty when the home side were penalised for holding on. Twenty minutes into the game the Amateurs were awarded a penalty 40 metres from the Harrow line and opted for fly-half Alex Gillespie to kick for touch. The Amateurs have scored on many occasions from this position in recent weeks, and the line-out proved a potent weapon once again as cleanly caught ball was driven on. The ball was worked back to scrum-half Alex Hazell, whose burst of acceleration took him over the line for an unconverted try.
As the first half progressed Ealing looked increasingly dominant in the set scrum, taking ball against the head and heaping pressure on the Harrow scrum-half. Just before the half-hour mark Hazell broke from the base of a scrum and passed to No 8 and captain Adam Hulmston, who made 30 metres and looked likely to score but was hauled down just short. Flanker Olly Mayo was up in support to pick up and cross the line, pushing Ealing into a handy 13-3 lead. Shortly afterwards Knott kicked his second penalty following a high tackle on centre Jonny Murphy, and Ealing once again showed their knack of turning possession into points when the ball was moved wide after a clean line-out take by second-row Sean Kennett. Full-back Eoghan O’Sullivan fashioned an overlap for Pascal Baptiste to finish with aplomb on the left wing. O’Sullivan was then on the score sheet himself as the half-time whistle approached, spotting a dog-leg in the Harrow defence for a converted try. The Amateurs were well placed for a berth in the cup final with a lead at the break of 28-3.
The second half continued in the same vein as the Amateurs, augmented by fresh legs off the bench, sought to maintain their high standards of fluency in attack and strong tackling in defence. However, the first score of the second period went to Harrow, the first try conceded by the Amateurs in their last three games, when they failed for once to clear to touch, Harrow were up quickly to win turnover and the ball was worked wide to the left wing to score a converted try. Ealing immediately returned to the attack with fluent running and passing among the forwards. With 67 minutes on the clock another penalty kick to touch put Ealing in a good position to score, but on this occasion the driven maul was collapsed. A scrum rather than penalty was awarded, and Hulmston picked up at No 8 to power over for yet another try for the Amateurs’ top scorer this season.
Harrow had little answer to the power of the Ealing pack and the fluent running of the backs, but nearly scored with ten minutes remaining following a darting run by the scrum-half. He passed to the right wing, who looked odds-on to score, but substitute Gerardo Minich, flying across from centre, just managed to knock him into touch.
Ealing finished strongly, and it was again a maul set up from a line-out following a penalty that was the source of the next try. Substitute flanker Ed Shryane took clean ball, Hulmston came close to scoring from the driven maul and it was Mayo who finished off for his second score of the evening, stretching for the line as he was brought down.
There was time for one more score when Minich was tackled, the ball was quickly recycled and Gillespie offloaded in the tackle to Shryane, who had picked a good angle to evade the remaining defenders.
The Amateurs will be looking to round off a fine season, in which they have lost just twice, with style in the final of the Floodlit Cup against Ruislip 1sts at Harrow RFC on Wednesday 25 April. Kick-off is at 7.30.