Two tries by the league’s top try scorer Phil Chesters helped Ealing Trailfinders to an impressive away win at newly promoted Taunton’s Hyde Park Lane ground.
Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore was only too aware that of the importance of the win at Taunton, he said "I was very happy with our overall performance. We defended with enthusiasm and produced some good turnovers throughout the game. In attack we produced so good opportunities and to get a five point win away from home is always very pleasing. We went there to express ourselves and come off the pitch with a smile on our face and we certainly achieved this".
Ealing’s Director made some personal changes to last week’s starting XV against Southend, With Joe Price coming in at 12, Neil Hallett taking the number 15 shirt, and Pete Hodgkinson moving onto on the bench.
It was Neill Hallet who scored Ealing’s first points on 5 minutes as Taunton infringed at the breakdown. Taunton started to bring their huge forwards into the game, being brought into the game by their fly half Jon Martin, and Ealing’s defence was severely tested. To their credit they held out and turning the ball over, the ball was moved to flying Chesters who taking off from inside his 22m line, he chipped over the home defence stripping them for pace and crossed the Taunton line for the first of his brace of tries, Hallett adding the conversion to make it 10-0 to the visitors with 17 minutes on the clock.
Taunton began to play with more composure and the continued pressure was only matched by the tremendous defence by the travelling Ealing side. Time and again bodies were put on the line, and Ealing held firm.
It was on 28 minutes that Phil Chesters again using the classic kick and chase , went over for his second of the day, to make it 0-15 to Ealing. Eventually the Taunton pressure told, and centre Christian Gervais dived over for tauntons first points on the board on 40 minutes, full back Gary Kingdom adding the extras, leaving Ealing 7-15 ahead at half time.
The second half began were the first ha started. Hallet adding three points on 59 minutes to take Ealing’s lead out to 18-7.
Further Taunton pressure saw Ealing’s lead dwindle to a single point following a Nick Burnett try and Kingdom conversion on 55 minutes. He added a penalty on 62 minutes.
Ealing’s half backs began to take control of the game, and some fine positional kicking pinned the hosts into their own half. Chesters chased a Ward kick and looked to have claimed his hat trick only for referee Charles Sanson to disallow the try saying he had dripped the ball.
Ealing’s territorial advantage continued, and the next try followed a superb passage of play with the Ealing forwards keeping the ball tight, and following a series of kick and goes, prop Lewis Brown crashed over under the posts. Hallett added the conversion and with it Ealing’s lead went out to 17-25 . Onto the field came Pete Hodgkinson, and taking a sublime reverse pass by scrum half Morgan Thompson just inside the hosts half , he ran at the middle of two defenders, accelerating and jinking past the last line of defence to score on 78 minutes. Hallet for once missed the conversion.
Captain Ben Ward said after the historic first meeting between the clubs, "Taunton was the last game of a very tough month for us with 3 away games and only 1 fixture at home. We played with a lot of discipline especially at the breakdown and didn’t give them anything cheaply. In attack we were able to stretch them and force them to chase the game. It was a very pleasing performance. Taunton will cause a lot of teams problems this year. "
Looking back at the previous months’ games Mike Cudmore added "We have had a tough September with three away games and a local derby at home. We have come through it unbeaten and produced a 16 point total so far. We are happy with that and our performances are improving each week. This weekend’s focus will be about improving our performance standards in all areas of our game".
Man of the match Phil Chesters was pleased with the win, but aware that there were more challenges ahead in October. He said "Everyone was very pleased with the performance at the weekend. Our aim this week was to just go and out there, enjoy ourselves, and play the rugby we know we are capable of…and I think the result reflects that!
Looking at the fixture list for September we all knew it was going to be a challenge right from the off. I believe the squad and management will look back at our results so far and be pleased with the start we have made, three wins and we all know picking up points on the road is crucial. Newbury will be the first game of October and will bring with it more tests . We will look at each team on their merits and prepare accordingly"
This weekend Ealing Trailfinders return to Vallis Way, and welcome Newbury RFC . Kick off is 3pm. Other senior fixtures see the Cougars play the Black Baa Baa’s at Vallis Way. Both games kick off at 3pm. The Exiles are on the road at Chiswick whilst the Evergreens entertain London Scottish Vets in an early 1pm kick off.
On Sunday the Jades travel to Barnes for a 3pm kick off.
Ealing Trailfinders :
15 – Neil Hallett 14 – Owen Bruynseels, 13- Markus Burcham, 12 – Joe Price ,11- Phil Chesters, 10- Ben Ward ( Capt), 9 -Morgan Thompson , 1- Lewis Brown, 2- Jon Moyce , 3- Dinos Alexopolous, 4- Ryan Gregory, 5- James Winterbottom, 6- Lee Starling, 7- Jay King, 8 – Matt Evans
16 – Rob Buchanan, 17 – Steve Neville , 18 – Jack Fishwick , 19 – Karl Gibson 20 – Pete Hodgkinson
For photos of the game can be found here.