Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV continued their impressive unbeaten start to the season by defeating derby-rivals Rosslyn Park 29-22 in a hard-fought encounter. Park outscored Ealing Trailfinders by three tries to two but thanks to the boot of ex-Worcester centre Tom Wheatcroft, Ealing Trailfinders ultimately deserved their victory on warm day at Vallis Way.
From the kick-off the Ealing Trailfinders forwards stamped their authority on the game by marching the visitors back with a 20m drive that had the home support purring in delight. Wheatcroft and Park fly-half Ross Laidlaw traded early penalties before two long range penalties from Wheatcroft gave the home side a 9-3 lead.
Ealing Trailfinders attack was well matched by a tenacious Park defence, which made the most of the limited opportunities they had to penetrate the Ealing Trailfinders line. A controlled set of phases led to an overlap to Park, which they pounced on with winger Neville Edwards scoring and Laidlaw converting to send the visitors into a 10-9 lead.
Ealing Trailfinders continued to exert pressure on the visitors and that pressure led to points. After a powerful forward drive a smart break from fly-half Ben Ward had Rosslyn Park on the back foot and short in defensive numbers. Peter Hodgkinson had an easy run in under the posts to score which Wheatcroft converted to restore the lead 16-10.
With four minutes remaining in the half, Park flanker Willie Lipp was yellow-carded for infringing at the ruck. Wheatcroft continued his fine kicking form to convert the penalty and extend Ealing Trailfinders’ lead to 19-10. Ealing Trailfinders would have been happy with their first half performance, but were dealt a huge blow on the stroke of half time when Park winger Dom Shabbo brushed aside several Ealing Trailfinders defenders to score. Laidlaw converted and reduced the arrears to 19-17 as the players took a well-earned break.
After the interval, Rosslyn Park struggled to cope with Ealing Trailfinders attacking momentum and another successful Wheatcroft penalty further extended the hosts lead to 22-17. A poor exit strategy from the ensuing restart resulted in Park levelling the scores when former England U20’s captain Hugo Ellis crashed over in the corner.
Ealing Trailfinders raised their game impressively in the final quarter of the match which saw prop Tim Brockett sneak over from close range after a succession of powerful ruck attacks from the forwards. Wheatcroft’s conversion gave Ealing Trailfinders a 29-22 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining. Ealing Trailfinders held on till the final whistle to secure an important victory against a side with promotion credentials.
Ealing Trailfinders RFC’s Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore said: “It was a difficult game. We didn’t play as well as we would have liked but we won and that’s the most important thing. It’s always great comfort to know the boys can deliver even when they’re not at their best.”
Ealing Trailfinders return to Vallis Way on the 22nd September to face Tynedale, to find out more click here