Ealing Trailfinders’ first game under floodlights at Vallis Way nearly ended in disaster for the home side, as a 59th minute floodlight failure almost led to the abandonment of this National 2 South fixture, that the home sided were comfortably winning 59-7 at the time.
In order for a result to stand, 60 minutes must be played, so Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore was a relieved man as the grounds staff at Trailfinders Sports Club worked hard to get the offending lights back in working order. He said "We played very well in all areas of the game. The score lines we have produced in recent weeks have been a reflection of not only how well we have played in attack but also how we controlled the opposition teams in defence. Obviously the floodlight failure was a worrying moment, and we were all glad when they came back on".
The final score line of 87-7 reflects Ealing’s total domination of this National 2 South fixture. Shelford in the past have proved to be Ealing’s nemesis. The Cambridgeshire based side’s heavy pack always being a force to be reckoned with. Not on this occasion however as Ealing’s forwards put their visitors to the sword as Ealing’s backs cut through at will, providing Peter Hodgkinson and wing Phil Chesters with ample opportunities which players of their class don’t need any second invitations, as they grabbed fourtries each on their way to the teams 12 try romp.
Ealing were off the mark after five minutes as Hodgkinson cut through a gap in the disorganised Shelford defence, after some fine approached work by the Ealing forwards, and Neil Hallett started the day as he finished it by converting the first of the twelve tries and with it taking his total contribution to 32 points in a faultless display of place kicking in a man of the match performance.
Hallett added a penalty on eight minutes, and then the tries began to flow: Hodgkinson added his second after a quarter of an hour, then his centre partner Joe Price outpaced the visiting defence to score Ealing’s third of the day on 25 minutes stretching the score line to 24-0 with Halletts conversion.
Hodgkinson’s hat trick came after the young centre collecting the ball in midfield, side stepped his way through three defenders before taking the full back on and outpacing him.
Not to be out done the forwards responded and second row Jack Fishwick was to go over for his first try for Ealing after he charged down a clearance kick from the hesitant Shelford full back and dotted down to take Ealing’s lead out to 36-0 with Hallett’s fifth conversion of the day.
Going into half time with the four try bonus point in the bag, it is always important to continue with the quality during the second 40 minutes, and this was something that skipper Ben Ward was pleased about. "We knew that the Shelford forwards always pose a problem, but the way our guys handled them in the first 40 minutes made my job easy. We moved them around and created miss matches in defence which we exploited. Coming out for the second half, despite conceding an early try the tempo of the game was kept at a high pace, and we continued to create space which we benefited from".
The visitors came out and started the second half brightly as second row Redmond Newbeery crossed the Ealing line off a rolling maul, Andy Daly added the conversion, but Shelford faced a daunting next 35 minutes, trailing 38-7. Ealing made changes to give the squad needed game time. Jon Moyce replaced Lewis Brown and Dinos Alexopolous came on for Steve Neville.
Just after this, Phil Chesters crossed for three tries within a ten minute period of flowing rugby, with Hallett’s conversions, Ealing were flying, 59-7 ahead.
Phil Chesters third was the pick of the bunch. Collecting the ball outside his centre Joe Price, his speed mesmerised the Shelford backs who failed to lay a hand on the speedy wing, who glided past the watching Shelford full back.
It was then that one corner of the ground was put into darkness as one of the new lights failed. Referee Mark Liddell was consulting the fourth official as the TFSC officials were busy repairing the damage.
The return of the lights were greeted by a roar by the crowd and with Ryan Gregory replacing Matt Evans, Jay King (on for Karl Gibson) and Sam Wardingley (for Owen Bruynseels), the tries continued. Chesters and Hodgkinson both crossed for their fourth of the day and were followed by Ryan Gregory and Neil Hallett wrapping up the 12 try victory, after he collected the ball on the half way line, dummying to Phil Chesters in support, he cut an inside line and went over by the posts, slotting his 12th conversion of the day in a deserved man of the match performance.
Ben Ward is confident that the team can carry on the form they have shown over the past few weeks, "We were very pleased with our performance Saturday. In the last three weeks our set piece has been of a high level and so has our defence. This is allowing our attack lots of opportunities to test opposition and cause them problems. We have some tough games coming up but there is too much quality in this league to start looking beyond the next game. We have had some great battles with Worthing over the last few years and this Saturday will be a very tough game."
Next weekend, Ealing travel to Worthing. Worthing were defeated at the weekend, by Ealing’s local rivals Richmond, 31-8, a victory which saw Richmond take fourth place in N2S. Worthing are currently in eighth place in N2S on 34 points.
15 – Neil Hallett, 14 – Owen Bruynseels, 13 – Pete Hodgkinson, 12 – Joe Price, 11 – Phil Chesters, 10 – Ben Ward (C) 9 – Morgan Thompson, 1- Lewis Brown, 2 – Rob Buchanan, 3 – Steve Neville, 4 – Jack Fishwick, 5 – Matt Evans, 6 – Karl Gibson, 7 – Lee Starling, 8 – Anders Nilsson
16 – Jon Moyce, 17 – Dinos Alexoppulos, 18 – Ryan Gregory, 19 – Jay King, 20 – Sam Wardingley
Lewis Brown charge