REPORT: Ealing Trailfinders 25 – 23 Jersey

Tom Bedford/Harry Sloan v JerseyEaling Trailfinders earned their first home Greene King IPA Championship victory of the season to complete the double against their familiar rivals from the Channel Islands.

Both teams were desperate to win to help their fight against relegation. The result means that Ealing are still bottom, but are now nine points off their rivals from the Channel Islands with four matches remaining.

It didn’t take long for the breakthrough to come and when it did it was from Jersey. Grant Pointer broke down the right wing and popped inside to Mark McCrea and the centre had an uninterrupted run to the line.

Fly-half Aaron Penberthy knocked over the conversion and then stretched the lead further with a well-struck penalty from near halfway.

It didn’t take Ealing long to open their account. Ben Ward twice kicked penalties to the corner and from the second Alex Bradley was driven over. The young flanker then drove Jersey back from kick-off with a powerful run into their territory.

Both teams continued to move the ball wide quickly as they probed each other’s defence and it was the visitors who were next to score when Latu Makaafi scored the second on the 20-minute mark when he was first to a kick behind the Ealing defence to score in the corner. Penberthy again landed the conversion.

Ward landed a penalty to put Ealing into double figures and then from a lineout Jersey’s back-row were penalised for entering from the side. Ward kicked for the corner, Adam Preocanin took the catch, but from a secondary drive Steve Pape was held up over the line.

Phil Chesters try v Jersey

From the resulting scrum captain Mat Evans appeared set to drive over for his first try before Jersey collapsed the scrum, for which the referee awarded a penalty try that Ward converted to close the gap to two points.

The scoring wasn’t done for the first though as Jersey stretched the lead again when Penberthy knocked over a penalty to put the Islanders 20-15 ahead at halftime.

Ealing took the lead early in the second half. Pape went close again, but when the ball came back it wide to Phil Chesters who ran in his 11th try of the season, which Ward converted to give Ealing the lead.

Penberthy and Ward then exchanged penalties and despite the best efforts of both sides’ attacks it was the defences that were on top.

As the match wore on the nerves started to jangle and late in the game Jersey’s pack tried to muscle their way over, but Ealing’s defence stood strong, forced them into an error and then cleared the danger.

Ben Ward v Jersey

Ealing went on the attack themselves from a kick to the corner, but were unable to find a way through fierce Jersey defence but without success. Jersey then turned the tables from a penalty, but were pulled up for crossing.

In the end neither team could break through for a vital try; Ealing to earn a try-scoring bonus point and Jersey to retake the lead, but when massed defence snuffed out Jersey’s last attack the crowd in W13 were finally able to acclaim a league win this season.

Ealing Trailfinders
Andrew Henderson, Chris Kinloch, Harry Sloane, Tom Bedford, Phil Chesters,
Ben Ward, Morgan Thompson; Ryan Storer, Andrei Radoi, Conor Carey, Steve Pape, Gavin Curry, Adam Preocanin, Alex Bradley, Matt Evans (captain)
Reserves: Richard Townsend, Steve Neville, Tim Brockett, George Merrick,
TJ Anderson, Tom Parker, Billy Robinson
Jack Burroughs, Grant Pointer, Drew Locke, Mark McCrea, Mark Foster, Aaron Penberthy, Nicky Griffiths; Sean McCarthy, Elvis Taione, Dave Young, Nick Campbell, James Voss, Alex Rae (captain), Ryan Hodson, Latu Makaafi
Luke Stratford, Nick Selway, Sam Lockwood, Joe Buckle, Jimmy Williams, Niall O’Connor, David Bishop

STORM Watches Man of the Match – Alex Bradley
Referee – Matthew Carley
Attendance – 843