Ealing Trailfinders Owen Bruynseels brace of tries either side of half time paved the way to this bruising win against Worthing Raiders at Rugby Park on Saturday.
The win keeps Ealing on top of National 2 South , still one point ahead of second placed Jersey, who despite being 3-6 down at half time to Westcombe Park, scored four second half tries to record a 30-6 win, whilst Richmond powered past Ealing’s next opponents Canterbury 28-52 to take over 3rd spot, as Southend lost at Henley Hawks 36-11.
Ealing’s Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore was more than happy to come away with all 5 points after this tricky encounter, he said, "Worthing is a tough place to get a result. We are very happy with our five point win but know there are some areas we need to improve on going forward"
Ealing arrived at Rugby Park, buoyed by some fine performances, scoring 213 points for and only conceding 27. Worthing however would present a very different test, given that they had tasted defeat only once at home this season, and so it proved to be the case.
Owen Bruynseels opened Ealing’s account after 7 minutes, following a lineout on the half way line, the ball was moved into midfield, centre Pete Hodgkinson sliced open the Worthing defence , drawing the full back, Hodgkinson found his supporting wing who went over for the days first try. Full back Neil Hallett added the conversion and Ealing were 7-0 ahead.
Worthing responded when Matt McClean knocked over a penalty after the visitors
transgressed at the ruck. Ealing were pegged back by a period of sustained pressure
which allowed the Raiders skipper James Arthur to put the hosts into a brief lead with a try close to the Ealing posts, the conversion was added by McLean, and Worthing were ahead 10-7 on 29 minutes.
Three minutes before half time, Ben Ward put Ealing into a good position just outside the Worthing 22m line, some superb mauling by the Ealing eight saw prop Steve Neville go over for an unconverted try, and took Ealing into a 10-12 lead into the half time interval.
Ealing’s skipper Ben Ward said, "Not much was needed to be said at half time.
We came in with a slight lead and were turning with the wind. We have a group of players that are maturing and are pretty good at knowing what needs to be done to get the result."
Ealing came out after the half time break and took the game to their south coast hosts.
Ealing’s approach work to the third try of the day would have pleased Mike Cudmore, his forwards maintaining the momentum, flanker Karl Gibson made a break, and just outside the 22m line, Ben Ward put over a diagonal cross field kick which wing Owen Bruynseels gratefully accepted for his second of the day, Neil Hallett from out wide could not manage the extra points but Ealing were 17-10 to the good with 44 minutes on the clock.
Not to be outdone, Ealing’s front row union added another try when prop Rob Buchanan bulldozed his way over from short range, Neil Hallett extended the lead with the conversion and Ealing seemed to be cruising at 10-24 with twenty five minutes remaining.
Worthing hit straight back , and their centre Matt McLean closed the gap after he crossed for a try on 55 minutes.
Ealing made changes after 60 minutes, and it was good to see the return to 1st XV action of flanker Blair Morris after a period of illness, he came on for the impressive Karl Gibson, whilst Dinos Alexopoulos gave Steve Neville a rest, and Ryan Gregory
replaced Lee Starling.
National 2 South’s leading try scorer, Phil Chesters took his seasons total to 19 tries, as Ealing looked to kill off any sort of Raiders fight back. He latched onto a sweet grubber kick through and won the footrace to dot down, Hallett again from out wide was just unable to find his range. Ealing led 15-29 with a quarter of an hour remaining. Worthing responded when lock Charlie McGowen was hauled over the Ealing line to bring the score line back to 20-29 with only 6 minutes left on the clock.
Ealing looked to close the game out, and when the Raiders gave away a penalty for
interfering with Ealing scrum half Morgan Thompson at the breakdown, Ealing’s Neil
Hallett calmly stepped up , and the resulting penalty sailed through the uprights, and with it referee Simon McConnell signalled the end of the game, another close game at Rugby Park, but one the league leaders on the balance of it deserved.
Ealing’s two try hero Owen Bruynseels said after the game "Before going into the game we spoke about continuing the progress we have made over the past few weeks and how we should look to continue our good form. Worthing is always a tough place to go and we knew we would have to put in a good performance. Coming away with a bonus point win is always pleasing and some areas of our game functioned well at times. However we were not happy with some aspects of our game and will look to work on these this week in training building up to a big game against Canterbury".
Ben Ward added "We are very pleased to go away from home and take 5 points. Its a
tough place to go and Worthing are a good side. We felt we made some good chances and tested them everytime we kept the ball. Our defence was not at the level we wanted and this allowed them to keep in the game."
This weekend, Ealing Trailfinders return to Vallis Way and entertain Canterbury RFU. Kick off is 3pm and all the details can be found on the club website www.ealingrugby.co.uk
Second placed Jersey face a tricky visit to Southend, whilst 3rd placed Richmond entertain Dings at the Athletic Ground.
Ealing Trailfinders –
15 – Neil Hallett, 14 – Owen Bruynseels, 13 – Pete Hodgkinson, 12 – Joe Price, 11 – Phil Chesters, 10 – Ben Ward (C) 9 – Morgan Thompson, 1- Rob Buchanan, 2 – Jon Moyce 3 – Steve Neville, 4 – Jack Fishwick, 5 – Matt Evans, 6 – Karl Gibson, 7 – Lee Starling, 8 -Anders Nilsson
16 – Lewis Brown, 17 – Dinos Alexoppulos, 18 – Ryan Gregory, 19 – Blair Morris, 20 – Sam Wardingley