REPORT: Rosslyn Park 31-24 Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV

Ealing Trailfinders stumbled at The Rock on Saturday, losing a very competitive game away to Rosslyn Park. But a last-gasp score secured the Ealing boys a losing bonus point that meant Rosslyn, the winning side, dropped a place to fourth, while Ealing, the losing side, maintained second place.>

National 2 South leaders Barking kept their 100% winning record, but for the pack behind it is bonus points that may decide their fate, and currently it is Ealing who lead the pack with 7 bonus points from their 8 games.

But Ealing will be disappointed that they probably did not deserve to win, and while both sides would probably claim the best backs, it was a winning performance by the Rosslyn pack that won a vital game for them.

A committed start from both sides led to only a single Ross Laidlaw penalty in the first quarter of an hour, but then the visitors took the lead when the ever-threatening Phil Chesters, Ealing’s top try scorer, chipped through only to be taken out late. The referee adjudged he would have scored and went under the posts for a penalty try.

The rest of the first half saw Ealing defending hard in their own half but Rosslyn couldn’t convert their pressure into points. Finally Rosslyn had a strong run by winger James Strong held up short of the line, but a couple more phases saw Strong with ball in hand to give Park a 13-7 half-time lead.

In a thrilling second half both sides had periods of ascendancy, but Park began the stronger. A try from second row Russell Forster after a long series of phases, and then a penalty from Laidlaw left Ealing 23-7 down and they must have feared they would get nothing from the game. But Ealing’s ability to keep playing to the final whistle is one of the reasons they have accumulated bonus points this season. Most often where their backs have proven their fitness and continued to score tries up to the 80th minute in convincing wins, but now it was time to dig in and salvage something from a losing position.

In the 66th minute an inch-perfect Ben Ward cross kick released substitute winger Bryan Young to score in the corner and then, on 76 minutes, it was Ealing Centre Peter Hodgkinson’s turn.  At 26-22 to Park the home team must have feared that Ealing could snatch the points, but they drove forward once more with their pack to score through Hooker Chris Ritchie with just one minute to go. But Ealing showed the resolve that has been a hallmark of a young side this season, and winning a penalty, Ben Ward cooly stroked it over to win a losing bonus point, and keep second place in the league.

Rosslyn Park have won just three bonus points this season, and Clifton’s 4-try bonus point in their home win against Richmond meant that despite their win, Rosslyn dropped from third to fourth in Nation 2 South. Ealing return to Vallis Way on Saturday and will hope to get back to winning ways against Henley.