REPORT: Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV 36 v 31 Fylde

Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV were made to work hard for their 36-31 victory against a resolute Fylde team at Vallis Way. The home side enhanced their position at the top of the National 1 table despite having to withstand a second half blitz by the visitors.

Ealing Trailfinders had been guilty of starting slowly in recent weeks, but there was no evidence of that in the opening exchanges. A sweeping move where forwards and backs combined in getting the home side over the gain line led to the ball switching to Owen Bruynseels to score. In the 10th minute Ealing Trailfinders were rocked when Fylde second row Paul Arnold burst through flimsy Ealing Trailfinders tackling to score his side’s first try, with Chris Johnson adding the extras. The home side was proving dangerous as their attacking intent led to Fylde giving away a cynical penalty at the breakdown, which Thomas Wheatcroft converted to restore the lead. Ealing Trailfinders were firing on all cylinders, with Peter Hodgkinson looking particular sharp on his return from an ankle injury. From a dominate Ealing Trailfinders scrum, the ball moved swiftly through the hands to Hodgkinson who beat the last defender to score. Wheatcroft’s successful conversion enhanced the West London side’s lead to 15-7. Ealing Trailfinders were continuing to bombard Fylde’s line and only a string of handling errors and penalties were preventing them from scoring a handful of tries. The home side did manage to convert their continued pressure into points as a poor clearance into the grateful hands of Phil Chesters saw him sprint into the open space before off-loading to Bruynseels to cross for his second try. Wheatcroft’s well-struck touchline conversion gave Ealing Trailfinders a well-deserved 22-7 lead. Fylde came back strongly and it needed an excellent tackle from Hodgkison and a try-saving turnover from Gavin Curry to prevent them from scoring. Johnson reduced the deficit when he slotted a penalty just before the interval to make it 22-10.

Ealing Trailfinders began the second half impressively as a fine move between the backs almost led to Hodgkinson going over to score. Against the run of play, Arnold again exposed some weak Ealing Trailfinders tackling as he broke through the defensive line and almost ran the length of the field to score. From the ensuing breakdown scrum-half Ryan De La Harpe snuck over from close range to score. De La Harpe converted his own try to take the score to 22-17. The home side were again camped in the Fylde half and will be disappointed not to make the most of their territorial dominance. They were punished for their inability to convert their pressure as a fantastic counter-attacking break from replacement winger Oli Brennand enabled De La Harpe to go over for his second try of the game. The scrum-half converted to give the visiting side a surprising 24-22 lead with a quarter of the game remaining.

Ealing Trailfinders replied instantly through hooker Richard Townsend and then replacement prop Lewis Brown, both tries converted by Wheatcroft to restore the home sides lead to 36-24. Fylde showed their resilient character as they came back and scored to give them hope of sealing an unlikely victory. Arnold was the beneficiary of a powerful driving line-out as his second try of the game was converted by De La Harpe to reduce the arrears within a converted try to win the game. Ealing Trailfinders managed to hold on for the final 5 minutes of the game to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Ealing Trailfinders travel to Blackheath this Saturday (13/10/12) before returning home to Vallis Way to face last season’s Championship side Esher (20/10/12) in what is set to be a classic London derby. To find out more click here