Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end on Saturday as a determined Old Albanians outfit staged a second half comeback to inflict a first defeat for the National 1 league leaders. Both sides expressed a desire to play an attacking style of rugby in the opening quarter, with Ealing Trailfinders shading the visitors in opportunities created. Despite the attacking willingness of the two teams, the game remained scoreless due to unwavering defence from Ealing Trailfinders and Old Albanians and an inability for either side to convert sustained pressure into points. A Ben Ward penalty, given for Old Albanians being off-side, opened the scoring in the 20th minute and seemed to spark the home side into life. From the restart, Phil Chesters collected and jinked his way past several defenders to give Ealing Trailfinders the necessary impetus. The ball moved swiftly through hands to the right wing as Owen Bruynseels’ impressive run had the visitors panicking before centre Sam Wardingly finished off a great team try with a powerful burst to the line. Wards successful conversion gave the hosts a warranted 10-0 lead. It appeared Ealing Trailfinders were going to run away with the match as all facets of their game, particularly their powerful scrum, was enabling the home side to be in total command. An innocuous kick downfield was brilliantly snaffled from the air by Ronald McLean-Dents who off-loaded to Anders Nilsson before the ever-present flanker swung the ball to Chesters who raced over to score the unconverted try. Old Albanians hit back through winger Ollie Marchon who scored after a sweeping move saw him put into space for an unconverted try. Ealing Trailfinders responded in clinical fashion. After a bout of phase play, replacement fly-half Rory Damant, on for the injured Ward who was taken off with a serious hand injury, exploited weak defending to slide through two defenders to score under the posts. McLean-Dents slotted the simple conversion to give the hosts a healthy 22-5 lead going into the break.
OA’s needed a good start to the second half to stand a chance of having a say in the game, and that’s exactly what they got. Stringing a host of multi-phase attacks together, OA’s began to put the home sides defence under pressure. After numerous pick and go’s, Matt Chambers appeared from the malaise on Ealing Trailfinders try line as his sides try-scorer. Lawrence Rayner’s conversion reduced the deficit to 22-12. A Mclean-Dents penalty was quickly cancelled out by a well-worked try finished off by player-coach James Shanahan. OA’s turned the screw once more with Shanahan beginning to orchestrate matters from fly-half. It was a half break and pass from Shanahan to Rayner that saw the visitors claw their way back into a game that at one stage looked dead and buried. Rayner converted his own try to leave the scores finely posed at 25-24 with the visitors building momentum. For the remainder of the game OA’s camped in the home sides half in search of the match-winning points. Despite resilient Ealing Trailfinders defending, Old Albanians’ Sam Collins finished a fine back-line move from first phase possession to touch down in the corner. Rayner’s conversion went wide but the impressive OA’s comeback was good enough to take the game.
This week Ealing Trailfinders make the long trip north to play Blaydon before returning to Vallis Way on the 17th November where they host Sedgely Park. To find out more about the next home game click here.