The Evergreens resumed Surrey Vets league duty with a comprehensive 27 points to 5 win over Rosslyn Park to start the Year of the Tiger in great rugby form.
Following the usual frantic e-mails and Manager Vittorio’s phone calls we started with a pretty strong line-up with Jimmy Noak and Richie Melia propping, myself as usual hooking, second rows of Michele Lozza and Bill Miller and an athletic back-row of Dave “Max” MacSweeney, Stef Glancy and Andy Madden. Dave Brathwaite and Ed Beck were the half backs, centres were Dave “The Chairman” Steene and Paul Hoban. On the wings we had Gavin and Lawrence with Alun Simpson at Full-back. Paul Lowen, and Rob Williams started on the bench and Mark Rutherford generously “volunteered” to fill in for Rosslyn Park as they were a man short.
Although Park arrived a man short, Ealing weren’t inclined to take too much comfort from this as in the corresponding fixture last year they arrived two men short and proceeded to give us a spanking after we lent them a few players. So we started this game determined to gain the initiative and not let Park get their tails up early on.
The plan was not to get stuck in an arm-wrestling confrontation up front as they had quite a big and experienced pack so the idea was to spread the ball as much as possible and rely on our speed out wide. But first Ealing had to absorb a fair amount of pressure as Park attacked our line early on. Great defence held them out and soon we found ourselves camped in the opposition 22. We had been getting the upper hand in the scrums and so opted for a scrum when awarded a penalty 5 yards out. A solid scrum, a small nudge to keep their back row tied down and Michele picked up and drove over for a muscular try. Michele added another in the first half in similar circumstances to cap a fine performance from him. By now Stef had gone off injured (well, dazed and confused anyway) after a clash of heads and Rob Williams was at second row which was why Michele was playing back-row.
The best play of the game came in the first half also when, on the Park 22, Max took a nice, clean lineout and gave it off the top to Brathers, quick ball through the hands saw winger Gavin scoring his first but surely not last try for the Evergreens in the corner. Simple stuff but lovely to see! Max had a great day at the lineout despite (ahem) not being known for his stature, winning his own ball as well as snaffling some opposition throws. This added to his foraging in the loose along with Andy and Michele gave Ealing a great platform to go forward. Half time saw Ealing ahead 15 – 0 with all conversions best not mentioned…
Reinforcements arrived at half time in the shape of Jamie Carlin and Cameron Orr who threw themselves headlong into the game and ensured that Ealing didn’t lose the tempo we had established. Eddie Beck and Steeny made some good breaks one of which led to a try when Steeny offloaded in the tackle to Lawrence Chir who then showed great strength to break through another two tackles to touch down under the posts. Cameron added Ealing’s fifth try following good interplay and a final strong drive over the line. The Ealing scrum and lineout had been strong all day and gave the backs a great platform to attack Rosslyn Park and set the groundwork for the win.
To be fair, Park had a few good passages of possession and play one of which saw them run back a loose kick and following a few missed tackles they got their only score. However through most of the game the Ealing defence was impressively resolute despite their full-back and back-row repeatedly offering quite a threat. The referee blew up a little early as there had been a few injuries and so we could get in to the bar to watch the Ireland – France game but having watched it, I’d rather we’d stayed playing our game a few hours longer! But at least this puts Ealing back on the winning track and ready for next week’s game at home again versus Weybridge Vandals.
Ealing Evergreens – 27
Tries: Lozza (2), Chir, Gavin, Orr