The Amateurs 1sts put on a typical display of clinical finishing to emphatically see off the challenge of Grasshoppers in the semi-final of Middlesex Merit Table 1. The previous league match between the teams had seen an unconvincing 22-14 victory for Ealing, but this time Grasshoppers had no answer to the Amateurs’ power and had a thoroughly miserable afternoon in atrocious weather conditions and on a pudding of a pitch. There had been some doubt as to whether the pitch was playable after heavy overnight rain, which turned to horizontal sleet as kick-off time approached, but the all-clear was given for a match which curiously was officiated by a Spanish referee flown in from Madrid.
As so often in a highly successful season for the Amateurs, the first score of the day came through the forwards. Eleven minutes into the game an Ealing penalty was kicked to touch, and from the ensuing clean catch a maul was set up and driven over the line, with Des Crinion the scorer. The line out provided a rich source of clean possession all afternoon, despite the cold and wet conditions, and Crinion was the beneficiary of powerful driven mauls on two further occasions. On the half-hour mark captain Adam Hulmston added to the forward try tally with a trademark pick-up from No 8.
Ealing were comfortably placed at half-time with the benefit of the elements to come in the second half, and added a further score immediately after the break when Olly Mayo charged down the touch line, leading to a second try for Hulmston from quickly recycled ball. With 20 minutes to go the backs finally fashioned a try of their own when Rhys Langford on the left wing brushed off an attempted tackle and ran 80 metres to score. With the game nearly over and Ealing putting pressure on the visitors’ line once again, inside centre Jonny Murphy seized on a loose ball to touch down next to the posts. Murphy had taken over the kicking duties after an injury to full-back Tom Riddell, and added the conversion to his two previous successes.
The Amateurs 1sts will contest the MMT1 play-off final at the Wasps ground on 13 April, but will not be joined by the Amateurs 2nds and the Exiles, who lost their own semi-finals to strong opposition in the shape of London Scottish V and Feltham II respectively.