Dings Crusaders 3 Ealing Trailfinders 8 - National 2 South Match report
Ealing returned from Dings following a hard fought game at Landseer Avenue , on a pitch that resembled Vallis Way the previous week. The fact that the game proceeded was amazing and put Ealing Vice President Bill Taylor in a quandary , he returned from his own pitch inspection firming believing that the ground staff had been watering the 1st XV pitch as the two adjacent pitches were bone dry!
However referee Phil Watters passed the pitch fit for this National 2 South encounter and it was no surprise that the pitch made playing rugby a real problem for both teams and Ealing's Mike Cudmore was philosophical after this tight win . He said "The pitch was very heavy to say the least and this meant that it was always going to be a low scoring game. In the first half I felt we created enough opportunities to have added to our 8 point total. In the second half with the pitch progressively getting worse and against the wind it was always going to be difficult to play out. We were under a lot of pressure but all defended well and restricted Dings scoring opportunities. Dings is a very difficult place to get a result at even on a dry day so I was very pleased to come away with a good win" .
Skipper Ben Ward echoed Mike's sentiment, adding " Dings is always a difficult place to go and get a win. Conditions didn't suit either team and the game never really got flowing. We had a number of opportunities in the first half we didn't take advantage of and then had to defend for long periods in the second half. Our defence was yet again very composed throughout and we are very pleased to come away with the points."
Ealing kicked off with a strong wind at their backs and despite the fact their hosts had the majority of the ball, Ealing's defence was superb again. They denied Dings any meaningful attacking opportunities and did not allow them into their own 22m area for the whole of the first half. Ealing's back row of Blair Morris, Lee Starling, & Karl Gibson were everywhere , not allowing Dings any time on the ball, creating many turnover opportunities. The problem on the day was the pitch - gaining quick ball is what every team wants to play with but the conditions meant flowing rugby was not to be the order of the day.
Ealing opened the scoring on 16 minutes, when Phil Chesters strolled over for one of his easier 42 tries of the season . Following scrum just inside the Dings 22m line , scrum half Morgan Thompson's pass found Chesters all alone and he strolled over unopposed to cross for what was to be the day's only try. Neil Hallett's kick from out wide was always going to be difficult and the ball sailed wide of the mark.
The game remained tight through the remainder of the first half, and Neil Hallett extended Ealing's lead on the stroke of half time to take an 8-0 lead into the interval.
The second half remained a tight affair , and it was Ealing strong defence that would frustrate Dings - Ding's coach Kevin Hopkins said to the Rugby Paper following the game , We had the majority of the ball today and I thought the boys played with great commitment and desire, but you have to give credit to the opposition for the way they defended". In the past it has been said that Ealing could play on a dry track but when the going got heavy they struggled. Games like this show a different team this season.
Ding's only return for all their possession was a 46th minute penalty, by fly half Steve Plummer.
When Ealing prop Lewis Brown was yellow carded for killing the ball in the 51st minute Dings sniffed an opportunity , but instead of taking the Ealing pack on at a set scrum, now down to seven men, Dings kicked for the corner. They lost the resulting lineout and a possible chance went begging.
Other games at the top of National 2 South saw Ealing's lead at the top remain at 8 points . Jersey's visit to Old Albanians saw the Islanders come away with a tight 19-20 win , but failed to take a bonus point. Third placed Richmond also had a tight 15-21 victory away at Henley Hawks.
This coming weekend see's Ealing Trailfinders on the road to visit Old Albanians , hoping that the weather remains dry and the OA's pitch is well suited to running rugby, something both sides like to play.
Ben Ward said of the OA's fixture, " Old Albanians have had a very good run of results which has seen them well into the promotion race. We know as a team that we will have to be switched on at all times Saturday. Both teams like to play good rugby and it should be an entertaining encounter."
Kick off at OA's in 3pm.
Ealing Trailfinders XV
15 - Neil Hallett, 14 - Owen Bruynseels , 13 - Pete Hodgkinson , 12 - Joe Price, 11 - Phil Chesters, 10 - Ben Ward (C) , 9 - Morgan Thompson
8 - Blair Morris, 7 - Lee Starling, 6 - Karl Gibson , 5 - Matt Evans , 4 - Ben Griffiths , 3 - Steve Neville, 2 - Jon Moyce , 1 - Lewis Brown , 16 - Dinos Alexopoulos , 17 - Sungo Kuwana, 18 - Ryan Gregory, 19 - Jay King 20 - Ronald McLean-Dents
03 March 2011