Ealing returned from their trip to Station Road with a hard fought victory.
Clifton, despite suffering their fifth straight league loss, and remaining stuck in the relegation zone, produced a performance that pleased their Director of Rugby Darren Lloyd. He said to the Rugby Paper that he felt despite the score line his team could take plenty of positives out of the defeat to the league’s top points’ scorers.
As Ealing were aware, Clifton is never an easy place to go and get a result, and given that in mind, Mike Cudmore was pleased with the result. Mike said, ""We played into a wind in the first half and had to make lots of tackles. We were not happy with our overall first half performance and knew we had to improve to get the result we wanted in the second half. We played the conditions well in the second half and put Clifton under a lot of pressure, but their high work rate in defence and some errors from us stopped us converting a lot of pressure into points. It is always good to win away from home and also pleasing the way we responded at half time and controlled the game in the second period".
Although not their best performance Ealing will be please to get a result on the road. Skipper Ben Ward said after the game "Although we did not play to our best it is very pleasing to grind out a hard fought victory away from home. "
Clifton won the toss and elected to play the first half with the gusty wing in their favour. The opening quarter of the game was an equal affair, with both defences holding firm. Clifton were on the wrong side of referee Steve Lewis and on 17 minutes, Clifton wing Rob Viol tested his patience again by killing the ball again and was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. From the resulting penalty, Ealing full back Neil Hallett opened his and his teams account with a penalty.
Clifton responded on 24 minutes when taking a strike against the head, the ball was moved to wing James Stark who went over for 5 points, fly half Chris Ashwin added the conversion to take the lead to 7-3.
Ealing came straight back at their hosts and it was centre Joe Price taking a switch with fly half Ben Ward, bisecting the Clifton defence just outside the Clifton 22m line, taking the ball at pace and he crossed close to the uprights, but with the strong gusting wind, Hallet was unable to add the conversion, and Ealing took a close 7-8 lead into the break.
Going into the break just ahead, Ealing realised that they would have to take advantage of the conditions, and Ben Ward said, "We defended well in the first half, and that is reflected in the tackle count, we knew if we could control the game and play the game in the Clifton half we could extend our lead".
Straight from the kick off Clifton infringed and Hallet stepped up to extend Ealing’s lead on 46 minutes to 7-11. Ealing began to take total control of proceedings with the wind in their favour and played the conditions well. Fly half Ben Ward spotting a hole in the home defence and went over for his 2nd try of the season. Hallett converted and Ealing’s lead was out to 7-18 on 56 minutes.
Ealing made some tactical changes, as Rob Buchanan, Steve Neville , Sam Wardingley and young lock Jack Fishwick all entered the fray. The bench made all made an impact with Fishwick taking some good lineout ball.
Clifton were given some hope when prop Barney Purbrook burrowed over for a short range try on 68 minutes, narrowing Ealing’s advantage to 12-18.
Hallett added another penalty on 73 minutes and the final word went to wing Peter Hodgkinson who, picking up an offload by ever present flanker Jay King, crossed the Clifton line, Hallett adding the conversion to make the final score 12-28.
This weekend Ealing welcome to Vallis Way, Kent based Westcombe Park RFC . Kick off is 2.30pm.
Looking ahead to the Westcombe Park game, Mike added, "We are all looking forward to the Westcombe Park game this weekend. It will be a very competitive game and we need to build on our performances and produce a good home performance"
In other games this weekend, the 2nd XV are away at Blackheath, the Cougars visit Rosslyn Park whilst the Exiles face GWR at home.
15 – Neil Hallett , 14 – Owen Bruynseels , 13 – Markus Burcham 12 – Joe Price , 11 – Pete Hodgkinson 10 – Ben Ward (c) 9 – Morgan Thompson 8 – Matt Evans 7 – Jay King 6 – Lee Starling 5 – James Winterbotton 4 – Ryan Greegory 3 – Dinos Alexopoulos 2 – Jon Moyce 1 – Lewis Brown
16 – Rob Buchanan 17 – Steve Neville 18 – Jack Fishwick 19 – Gethin Davies 20 – Sam Wardingley
Match photos here.