Exiles hit Old Isleworthians for six
Jez Inson reports from scrum half!
Ealing, 30 January – Ealing Exiles returned to action after a number of weeks gazing out on snowfilled and waterlogged pitches to run in six tries in a 32-5 victory against a physical Old Isleworthians side that were nothing if not dogged opponents.
Tries from big Rahim, a brace from flanker John Kane, one from Rahim and second half scores from substitutes Paul Hoban, Dave MacSweeney and Jez Inson wrapped up a satisfying days work for the men in green, who laid down a marker for the rest of the season.
Few would have bet on that scoreline after the opening ten minutes though. OIs set the early pace and were left scratching their heads (and not for the last time) as the referee decided that Ealing had grounded the ball in their own in-goal area after a kick through and awarded the visitors a five-metre scrum instead.
Soon the Exiles were up the other end of a rain-sodden pitch and were applying pressure on the OIs’ line.
It took a while, but eventually from T’s line-out catch, the pack drove over the line. When Rahim picked himself up grinning like a Cheshire cat, it was clear who’d bagged the first points of the day.
From then the half took on a similar feel; Exiles camped in the oppositions’ half, but unable to add to their score. Furthermore the wet conditions hindered any flow to the game. With no recognised hooked, nor jumper it was Nick Greenhalgh who took on the onerous task of throwing into the line and – adopting a fantastic old-school stance – he manfully did his best, but any slight derivation from the perpendicular was quickly whistled and a scrum was awarded.
That opened another kettle of fish. While Nick was forced forward two rows forward to hook, Rahim aside, Exiles had a distinct lack of props. So add in a grizzled opposition front-row, a churned up pitch and the scrum didn’t turn into so much as a lottery, but more akin to a Church fete tombola when you know the best you’re going to win is a tin of baked beans.
Still, the men in green came close to adding to their score when a slick handling move – most notably featuring a champagne rugby behind the back pass from Stephane – sent Afe flying across the line. Somewhere though the referee had seen a forward pass and the sides were brought back for yet another scrum.
While the scrums meant OIs were given plenty of chance to play with the ball Dave Morgan and Andy Madden standing sentry in the three-quarters ensured that there was little chance of the opposition breaking through the midfield.
Plus with skipper for the day, Stef McCabe, leading by energetic example, the OI door was already wobbling on its hinges.
Eventually Kano kicked it through to score the second try. He was first to a charged down kick, hacked on and touched the ball down in the corner.
New faces came on at half-time, but it did little to change the flow of the match as the Exiles’ efforts to play some impressive rugby was held back by ever-more erratic refereeing decisions. Just ask Scouse, who held up an OI runner, but then looked on incredulously as OI were awarded the scrum after the ball failed to materialise from the maul.
Nonetheless, Paul H added to the score. For what seemed like an age the forwards pounded the line and when Paul eventually received the ball close to the line, he pirouetted, wriggled and jiggled his way through the OI defence for the third try.
OIs pulled a try back when their number 8 drove over from close range, despite the scrum having already rotated through 90 degrees.
However, Kano then scored his second from yet another charge down and Dave MacSweeney picked and dived over from close range. Then with the match all but over Jez spotted a gap down the blindside and scooted over to put the seal on the victory.
In truth what was most impressive about this win was the way players had no issue filling in unfamiliar positions and trying circumstance without complaint and just got on with the job in hand. It is the sort of spirit that will be needed for the rest of the season.
John Kane (2)
Team and rough positions played:
Rahim Virani, 3
Stephane Maillefaud, 4
Gautam Tamang, 6,4
David MacSweeney 2
Stefan McCabe 9,13,6- Skipper
Paul Toolan, 10
Mark Rutherford, 11
David Morgan, 13,7
Andrew Madden, 13
Sean Stevens, 5
Paul Hoban, 12
barnaby chesterman, 7
Jez Inson, 9
john harrison, 1,5
John Kane 8
Justin Green 15
Robert kane 6,5
Alex Kruczkowski 14
Nick Greenhalgh 2,3