Recording their 8th win of the season and in the process attaining the significant bonus-point , Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV remain firmly top of National 1. The 41-17 score-line, deserving as it was, does not do justice the effort a tenacious Wharfedale outfit showed on a chilly autumnal day in Yorkshire.
It was the home side, registering impressive wins over Fylde and Esher in the early part of the season, which opened the scoring thanks to a penalty from Wharfedale’s full-back Tom Davidson. The opening quarter was a lively affair as both teams’ harboured ambitions to attack with intensity. Having weathered a dangerous passage of play from the home side, ETRC settled into their brand of rugby. A turnover at the line-out enabled the ball to be moved to Phil Chesters before the flying winger chipped the full-back and gathered to score ETRC’s first try of the game. Tom Wheatcroft made no mistake with the conversion to take the score to 7-3. ETRC looked threatening out wide but were made to rue missed chances due to errors in the contact area and falling foul of referee Tom Davis. An indiscretion at the line-out provided Davidson with another penalty opportunity, which he kicked to reduce the arrears to within a point. A powerful ETRC drive from a line-out was illegally brought down and gave Mr Davis no option but to award a penalty try which Wheatcroft easily converted. ETRC strung together several energy-sapping phases before flanker Karl Gibson exposed the Wharfedale defence to burst round the edge of the ruck to dot down under the posts. Wheatcroft’s conversion gave the Trailfinders a healthy 21-6 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the half. The home side hit back immediately through the trusty boot of Davidson, as ETRC were penalised at the scrum in their own half.
Wharfedale started the second half promisingly as a bout of phase-play piled the pressure on the Ealing Trailfinders line. That pressure eventually paid dividends as the visitors were penalised for being off-sides in midfield and Davidson successfully slotted his 4th penalty of the game to take the score to 21-12. ETRC responded in clinical fashion to earn their bonus-point. A well-chased Ben Ward kick was brilliantly turned over by Ronald McLean-Dents who spotted that Davidson was horribly isolated. From the ruck, the ball was quickly passed to replacement centre Sam Wardingley who paced to the line untouched, as Wharfedale struggled to get back in defence. Ward, taking over the kicking duties from the injured Wheatcroft, nailed the conversion to pull Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV 28-12 ahead. Unperturbed by the daunting task ahead of them, Wharfedale fashioned an immediate response when they took advantage of an indecisive ETRC kick-off. Wharfedale moved the turned-over ball swiftly through the hands to winger Simon Horsfall who scored in the corner. With the bonus-point secured, Ward kicked a penalty to extend ETRC’s lead to 31-17. The visitors wrapped the game up after a barnstorming run to the try- line by replacement second row Simon Gaynor and a further penalty from Ward.
Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV return to Vallis Way this Saturday to face the Hertfordshire side, Old Albanian, in what is set to be another great southern derby. To find out more about the game click here.