The Amateurs remain unbeaten since late November following a satisfying victory over one of their main rivals for the Zoo Sports Shield Division 3 South title, for the second consecutive week avenging an away loss suffered earlier in the season.
On a sticky pitch following weeks of persistently wet weather, the two old rivals served up a game of high quality and intensity, notable for outstanding defence. With Park enjoying the benefit of the breeze in the first half, there were few openings in the opening quarter, although Ealing missed with an attempt at the posts following a high tackle.
Half an hour into the game the deadlock was finally broken when Alex Ward kicked Ealing into the lead with a penalty awarded for offside. As the half-time whistle approached, Rosslyn Park started to string together a few moves but the Ealing defence held firm, with crunching tackles notably by the front row of Phil Cotter, Liam McDonagh and Patrizio Bancher. On the stroke of half-time the home side had the chance to double the lead with a second penalty, but the kick sailed wide.
Ealing coach Nick Lambert felt that the only real problem in an impressive first-half performance was the score, and with the advantage of a stiffening breeze the Amateurs dominated for most of the second period. On 45 minutes Ealing opted for a scrum when Park were penalised for a deliberate knock-on, and captain Adam Hulmston plunged over between the posts, leaving Ward with an easy conversion.
With 20 minutes left on the clock tight-head prop Bancher, who had carried and tackled with equal ferocity, was yellow-carded, but the numerical disadvantage seemed to make the home side even more determined, with debutant substitute scrum-half Matt Lowen launching waves of attack. The Park defence held firm, but eventually right wing Hugh Williams stepped inside his opposite number and had the strength to beat the last-ditch defence and record his second try in two weeks. Steve Verma, taking over the kicking duties, converted well from half-way out via an upright.
Two more tries would have brought a bonus point, but Park continued to defend valiantly and benefited when the referee disallowed a try by flanker Des Crinion with a couple of minutes to go because he was unable to see the ball under a pile of bodies.
(See photo album here.)
This Saturday sees the Amateurs in North West Middlesex Cup action away to Wasps Amateurs 1st XV of London Division 3 North-West.