Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV staged a thrilling comeback to snatch a 27-27 draw against London rivals Richmond in a pulsating game at the Athletic Ground. Despite trailing 27-10 with just over 10 minutes remaining, Ealing Trailfinders may rue the chance to snatch the victory in a fiercely contested game.
Richmond began the game the stronger with Ealing Trailfinders defending valiantly to prevent any scores in the opening exchanges. The Ealing Trailfinders defence stood firm against a barrage of powerful runners mixed with a subtle off-loading game from the home side, as referee Phillip Davies continually penalised the visiting side. A fantastic break by Owen Bruynseels against the run of play enabled the winger to sprint the length of the field before passing to Ronald Mclean-Dents to score, proving how dangerous Ealing Trailfindes can be on the counter attack. Tom Wheatcroft’s conversion took Ealing Trailfinders into a 7-0 lead. With Ealing Trailfinders looking comfortable at nullifying any threats that Richmond possessed, their interpretation of Davies refereeing was proving costly. A succession of penalties led to the sin-binning of Anders Nilsson followed by Tim Brockett in quick succession. Richmond made the most of the numerical advantage as No.8 Harrison Edwards went over from a catch and drive. From the restart a break through the middle led to a try by Chris Davies. With Ealing Trailfdinders reduced to 13 men, Richmond went into the half-time break 12-7 down.
The second half began much like the first as the home side looked in control as Thomas Platt kicked an early penalty to extend his side’s lead to 15-7. The momentum was with Richmond as second-row Will Warden crashed over after a sweeping move left the once-impenetrable Ealing Trailfinders defence tepid. A Wheatcroft penalty reduced the arrears to 22-10 before another Edwards try extended the Richmond lead to 27-10. A scrappy Ealing Trailfinders line-out saw the ball land into the welcoming arms of Lee Starling who crashed over to give the visitors a glimmer of hope as Wheatcroft successfully added the extras. Richmond came back once again, and if it wasn’t for a superb try-saving tackle and turnover from Mclean-Dents the game would have been out of sight for the league leaders. It needed something special to launch the comeback for Ealing Trailfinders, and that something special came from Bruynseels. His solo effort try was of the highest quality at a crucial stage in the game. The right winger gathered a cross-field kick before shrugging off several tackles on his way to the try-line. Wheatcroft was unable to convert the try as the score was 27-22 with 7 minutes remaining. It was a case of de-ja-vu as Bruynseels plucked another cross-field out of the air to touchdown in the corner resulting in a resounding chorus of cheers from the large away support. Wheatcroft was again unable to land his conversion as the scores were level at 27-27. More drama ensued as the rampant Ealing Trailfinders side were pinning an ever-tiring and disjointed Richmond side in their half with seconds on the clock. Ben Ward had the opportunity to clinch a remarkable victory for Ealing Trailfinders with a drop-goal attempt, but the ball sailed just wide. Ealing Trailfinders will have to settle for a draw in this thrilling encounter as they remain top of National 1.
Director of rugby Mike Cudmore said “There were aspects of our game we need to address. Richmond punished us when we had players in the bin but I was proud of the teams response and the way we came back into the game and could have won it. Our support was fantastic and it helped us raise our game”
This Saturday the 6th October Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV return home to Vallis Way where they face last season’s fourth place team, Fylde. To find out more please click here