In the first MMT1 league game of the season, Staines Cobs had their squad depleted by late call-ups from the club’s first team and, for the second week running, Ealing Amateurs 1sts found themselves having to play uncontested scrums, no doubt much to the frustration of a strong front row.
Ealing played into a strong breeze and bright sunshine in the first half, and found themselves in arrears within a minute of the start. Staines kicked deep, the ball rebounded off an upright and in the ensuing confusion the visitors knocked on. A quick ball from the uncontested scrum led to the Staines inside centre skipping over the line. Three minutes later Ealing had still not fully switched on and tackles were missed as Staines attacked from deep, resulting in a second converted try.
Ealing attacked from the restart, and a clean lineout take following a penalty for offside led to a surging maul, with Ash Spencer scoring. The conversion from near the right touchline failed, leaving the score at 15-5. Midway through the first half, full-back Andrew Johnston came into the line and set off on a mazy run, offloading in the tackle for Des Crinion to touch down.
Staines continued to make good use of the breeze to kick deep and chase, and after 24 minutes the left wing ran incisively and sidestepped the last defender to score in the corner. A fine conversion left Ealing trailing 21-12, despite numerical superiority. Good drift defence by Staines kept the visitors at bay for several minutes, but from a scrum 10 metres inside the Ealing half, Adam Hulmston picked up at No 8 and sprinted all the way to the line, reducing the gap to four points. By half-time Ealing had turned the deficit into a 32-21 lead as Jon Haigh powered his way over the line after Olly Miller was held up just short, Terry Thompson had an easy run-in after good work by the forwards and quick ball along the back-line, and Olly Miller scored when Staines finally ran out of tacklers after Eoghan O’Sullivan had made inroads into the defence.
Playing with the elements in the second half, Ealing Amateurs started to dominate. Jonny Murphy rolled back the years by jinking over, and Andrew Tew scored after a strong run by Mike Whitney, both tries being converted by Johnston. More jinking by Murphy led to a second try for Haigh, and within two minutes Stephen Verma had added another, putting Ealing out of sight at 58-21. Verma was on the score sheet a few minutes later, and with ten minutes to go Hulmston wrong-footed the defence to run in unopposed. There was still time for further touch-downs by Johnston and Crinion and finally a hat-trick try for Verma.
After a shaky start this was a good win for the Amateurs in their first league game of the season, although plenty of areas for improvement were evident, notably in tackling and accuracy of passing under pressure.
Ealing Amateurs 1: Ash Spencer, Darren Almeida, Patrizio Banchar, Jon Haigh, Tom Peppiatt, Mike Whitney, Des Crinion, Adam Hulmston, Olly Miller, Jonny Murphy, Eoghan O’Sullivan, Andrew Tew, Terry Thompson, Stephen Verma, Andrew Johnston
Second-half subs: John Kane, Tom Byrne, Sean Kennett
Tries: Verma (3), Hulmston (2), Haigh (2), Crinion (2), Thompson, O’Sullivan, Miller, Murphy, Spencer, Johnston
Conversions: Johnston (4), Miller, Crinion