Ill discipline cost Ealing Trailfinders this tricky away fixture at Shelford by 19 points to 15. A red and yellow card to prop Dinos Alexopoulos and lock James Winterbottom saw the Vallis Way side come away from Cambridgeshire with a losing bonus point. and with it they slipped to 2nd place in National 2 South behind Barking. Both teams are level on 75 points, Barking are on top courtesy of having won more games. Third placed Rosslyn Park’s game at Canterbury was cancelled on Saturday morning.
Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore was aware of how important the cards were to the result, but did look on some positive aspects. He said after the game "We played most the game with 14 men and at one point went down to 13 for ten minutes. The players who were left on the pitch worked hard and never stopped trying to get something out of the game. Once the ref had finally binned a Shelford player (after ten second half penalties) in the last minute of the game we produced a try and came away with a point from the game".
The home side started the game strongly and Ealing were on the back foot and on the wrong end of the referees whistle in the 5th and 9th minutes as Shelford took a 6-0 lead via the boot of fly half Tom Dann.
Ealing hit back strongly and started to put together some phases of play. Shelford to their credit defended their line strongly, and Ealing came away empty handed.
On 32 minutes the course of the game was changed. Ealing’s tighthead prop, Dinos Alexopolus retaliated to foul play on the far side of a ruck, he was shown a straight red card by referee Simon McConnell. Ealing then made changes to their pack, bringing off the evergreen Dave Essien, replacing him with prop Sonny Kuwana.
A further Dann penalty took the home side into a half time 9-0 lead.
Ealing Trailfinders showed their pedigree coming out of the traps strongly . On 41 minutes, Ben Ward put in a delicate cross field kick, wing Owen Bruynseels collected at speed and he crossed for his 8th try of the season. Ben Ward was unable to add the extra two points.
Ealing were down to 13 men on 46 minutes, when lock James Winterbottom was shown a yellow card for a technical offence. Shelford’s powerful number 8 Feofaaku Lea made a powerful pick and drive into the midfield, he off loaded to scrum half Alex Birkby to score. Dann was unable to add to the score. On 64 minutes Shelford extended their lead to 19-5 as Sam Hoad finished off a flowing move. Again Dann was unable to extend their lead.
Phil Chesters, the leading try scoring in National 2 South, was by this time on the pitch, and the first of his two tries came on 70 minutes. The Ealing backs showed some class as they moved the ball wide finding Owen Brynseels, who linked up with his fellow wing Chesters to go over in the corner.
By now Shelford were clinging on and finally referee Simon McConnell gave something the visitors way. Scrum half Alex Birkby was yellow carded for repeated infringements. With the numerical advantage somewhat restored, Phil Chesters took the seasons try total to 19 on 78 minutes. Following several phases of play, Ward put a grubber kick through to the artyful Chesters who beat his opposite man with some great footwork to score. Ward was unable to add to his tally, but with it Ealing Trailfinders came away with a losing bonus point from this tricky away trip.
Ealing to their credit never gave up. The sprit shown by the team when they were down to 13 men shows a maturity beyond what could be expected of this young team. Games like this show that there are no easy games in National 2, and to battle against adversity and still come away with something positive will all bode well for this group of players.
Ealing fly half Ben Ward echoed this as well. After the game he said, "Playing with 14 men changed the game for sure. On saying that we still showed great spirit to come back and get the bonus point right at the end. There are areas of our game we were not happy with and we have to respond in a positive manner this weekend away at Bridgwater. "
Next week, Ealing Trailfinders are again on the road. They travel to Somerset to visit Bridgwater & Albion RFC. Kick off is 3pm . See www.barfc.co.uk
15 -Peter Hodgkinson, 14 – Owen Bruynseels, 13 – Markus Burcham, 12- Joe Price, 11 – Richard Briggs (Phil Chesters 63), 10 – Ben Ward, 9 – Patrick Gill, 1- Steven Neville (Lewis Brown 66), 2 – Jonathan Moyce, 3 – Dinos Alexopolous, 4- Stuart Ware, 5 -James Winterbottom, 6 – David Essien (Kuwana Sungo 34), 7 -Jay King ( Captain ), 8 -Guthrie Hall
Shelford: Pens: Dann ( 5,9,36mins) Tries: Alex Birkby (60) , Sam Hoad (64)
Ealing Trailfinders: Tries: Owen Bruynseels (41), Phil Chesters (71,80)