Ealing Trailfinders continued their impressive unbeaten home record , as they overcame a stubborn Clifton outfit with a 6 try victory led by a man of the match performance by full back Pete Hodgkinson.
Clifton arrived at Vallis Way with a growing reputation, being the only side to down the colours of table toppers Barking and with Ex England wing David Rees and Bristol stalwart Matt Salter in their ranks.
Before the game Ealing Trailfinders Director of Rugby , Mike Cudmore commented "Clifton are a good side and that reflects in their current league position. Both teams are positive in the way they play the game so weather permitting the game should produce a good spectacle for all watching. We had a good win last week on the road and all are looking forward to delivering a good home performance"
It was Bristol based Clifton who started the game in top gear, as their top try scorer Rob Viol crossed for a try within 2 minutes after a line out on Ealing’s 22 saw the ball transferred to Viol who creating his own piece of history, by scoring his 100 league try. The conversion was missed by the visitors fly half John Barnes, but he did make amends to extend their lead to 8 points on 5 minutes with an easy penalty.
Ealing began to dominate play following Clifton’s bright start to proceedings, having the confidence to move the ball through many phases of play, and it was centre Joe Price was on hand to finish off one such passage of play after cutting a good line to bring the score to 5-8 after 7 minutes of play.
Joe Price Scoring
Ealing kept the pressure up and wing and Ealing’s growing confidence led to Owen Byuynseels going over for his 3rd try in his second league start of the season in the right hand corner, Ward going narrowly close with the conversion.
Clifton’s stand off narrowed the gap on 22 minutes ( 12-11) with a straightforward penalty, after Ealing transgressed at the maul.
The league’s top scorer and crowd favourite, Phil Chesters extended his own personal record to 16 tries so far this season after some sublime counter attacking play by man of the match Hodgkinson. Hodgkinson off loaded to put the Ealing poacher in for 5 points.
Phil Chesters try
Coming out after half time, with the slope in their favour, Ealing came out the stronger side, and Joe Price sliced through the Clifton defence for his second try of the game on 54 minutes and the all important 4 try bonus point that is becoming a mark of Ealing’s season, having collected 10 four try bonus points from their 13 league outings so far this season. Who said the ELV’s have made try scoring an issue?
Ealing number 8 , Guthrie Hall added to the pot on 71 minutes, following a dominant scrum on the Clifton 22m line, Ben Ward adding the extra 2 points to stretch the homes sides advantage to 29 points to 11.
Guthrie Hall scoring
Ealing continued to up the pace of the game, and at this stage of proceedings, holes appeared in the Clifton’s defence, and for a player with the broken field running skills of Pete Hodgkinson, this was heaven. Hodgkinson stole the ball in the tackle, and strolled over unopposed to clinch the 6 try rout , Ben Ward completing the scoring with 2 points, and with it the game 36-11.
Skipper Jay King said after the team’s 11th win of the season, "Other than the 1st minute slip up when we let them in for a try, I thought it was a controlled, mature performance from the squad. It was the first of the "top 4" to come to Vallis Way and we are pleased with the way we performed. We have to pleased with where we are at this stage of the season".
Away from Vallis Way, Barking could only manage a two try victory over Richmond, which means that Barking and Ealing Trailfinders go into the last game of 2009 in joint top spot. Third placed Rosslyn Park had an impressive 38-15 win over Southend to keep the pressure on the top two sides.
Next weekend, Ealing travel to 14th placed Barnes, a familiar venue and old friends from their days in London One. Kick off is 2pm at Barnes Elms.
Ealing Trailfinders team
15 – Hodgkinson ,14 – Chesters, 13 – Burcham , 12 – Price ,11 – Bruynseels, 10 – Ward, 9 – Gill, 8 – Hall, 7 – King (C), 6 – Morris, 5 – Winterbottom, 4 – Gregory, 3 – Alexopoulos, 2 – Moyce, 1 – Neville
16 – Kuwana, 17 – Buchanan, 18 – Davies, 19 – Essien, 20 – Young