First Team

REPORT: Ealing Trailfinders 43 – 21 Old Albanian

Ealing Trailfinders were made to work hard by Old Albanian to round off pre-season with a fifth win from five, but by the final whistle they had crossed for seven tries in a 43-21 victory.

The club now have two weeks to prepare for their first match of the season, against London Scottish on 14 September at Allianz Park.

“Five wins is what we were after, but in some aspects it is how you do it,” captain Adam Preocanin said. “That is what we have to look forward to do, to work on those things we need to work on because no-one plays a perfect game. So we have two weeks to do that.”

The host defence was quickly put under pressure by OAs. The Hertfordshire side dominated possession and nearly opened the scoring on 10 minutes when Danny Holmes put Chris May away, but wing Owen Bruynseels stopped the danger with a vital cover tackle.

A minute later Ealing flanker Ed Siggery won a penalty in the shadow of the Ealing Trailfinders posts and after Ben Ward cleared the danger Phil Chesters broke the OAs defence. Good work from the forward pack gave the backline quick ball and from Ward’s cross-kick Bruynseels took a diving catch to score.

OAs responded and were soon in the lead. From a turnover they worked the ball wide quickly and No.8 Andrew Daish dived over for a try that full-back Richard Gregg converted.

Once again the lead changed hands quickly. A slashing break through the middle allowed vice-captain Chris Kinloch to stretch his legs and full-back Andy Hall was on his shoulder to take a pass, run in and then convert his own score.

As the half wore on the hosts took greater control of the match; Siggery nearly capitalised when Gregg mis-judged a Stuart Commins box-kick, before Chesters showed he hadn’t lost his nose for the try-line in his first match back from injury by rounding off another counter-attack to put Ealing Trailfinders 17-7 ahead at the break.

Five months ago he was hit by a moving car, but has battled back to full fitness and showed he will be a threat in the Championship.

“It is like I’ve never been away,” Chesters said. “We played last week in a second XV game and that dusted off a lot of the rust, but today it was really good to get out there and see how it went.”

It didn’t take the home side long to stretch the lead after half-time. Ward poked a grubber kick down the right wing and Kinloch brushed off the OAs cover defence to reach the ball first.

As the match wore on both teams continued to run the ball and spread play wide OAs wing Will Smith went close before second row Maro Itoje twice crashed over from close range to reward OAs commitment to attacking rugby.

Once again Ealing hit back and ended the match with a flourish with tries from England U20 captain Jack Clifford and substitute Andrew Henderson.

“We need to string all the good things we did together and cut out those things we did poorly and that will stand us in good stead for the season,” Preocanin said.

“If we get quick ball we are incredibly dangerous, but it is getting to that stage consistently and putting teams under pressure. We just need to get that quick ball.”