London Scottish 26
Ealing Trailfinders 42
HUW CROSS @ Richmond Athletic Ground
EALING TRAILFINDERS’ class shone through in the second half as they ran out 42-26 winners against a valiant London Scottish at The Richmond Athletic Ground. After a tight opening 40 in the local derby, the ruthlessness when in the red zone of the high-flying visitors immediately after the break proved too much for Scottish as they fell to two quick scores which killed the tie.
However, the home side showed their courage as they fought back to score two tries of their own including a last minute effort from Craig Duncan – to claim a try bonus point in West London with the last act of the game.
The home side got off to the worst start, fumbling from the kick-off they handed possession to the visitors who forced a penalty which visiting fly-half Craig Willis slotted. An injury to No 8 Matt Eliet compounded the opening minutes but in Mark Bright they had a more than capable replacement slotting into the back-row.
Scottish withstood a possession-heavy Ealing and limited them to just another penalty before getting on the scoreboards themselves on 22 minutes. Centre Dan Barnes found a gap in the midfield and popped to Josh Barton, who gathered at the second time of asking. Harry Sheppard added the extras to give the hosts a 7-6 lead.
Another penalty from the visitors edged them back into the lead, but Scottish replied in the best manner, and what a try it was, with Sheppard dinking over the on-rushing defence on the halfway for Bobby Beattie to collect and glide his way past two covering backs.
But the first half scoring wasn’t done there as some sloppy tackling allowed Jordan Els to bundle over from close range to send Ealing into the break 16-14 up.
Like the first half, Ealing started fast after the break with two tries in the space of three minutes which stretched their lead to 30-14. First, winger Tommy Bell finished off a neat move in the midfield, then Els bludgeoned his way over for a second from close range. Willis making no mistake with both conversions.
Smelling blood and with their pack on-top, Ealing got their try bonus point before 60 minutes, with Sam Dickinson going over from close range after some fine marshaling at the ruck from scrum-half Jordan Burns. Willis was, surprisingly, wayward from the touchline with the conversion.
With the game all but done, Scottish threw caution to the wind and it paid off. Bright showing a turn of pace that belied his 41 years to scamper away down the wing before showing a neat step to go over.
The fairytale comeback was short lived, however, as Ealing’s ruthlessness when they got into the 22 was on full show, as demonstrated when Reon Joseph went over.
With seconds remaining, it was Scottish who had the last word and it could prove crucial come the final shakedown at the end of the season, with Duncan touching down in the corner after some concerted effort from the home side, which led to roars in the stand and undoubtedly a few beers in the clubhouse after.
London Scottish: L Hibberd; R Stevenson, R Beattie, D Barnes, C Duncan; H Sheppard, J Barton, R Eveliegh, J Malcolm, K Whyte, A Toolis, M Jurevicus, L Frost, L Wynne, M Eliet. Subs: B Harding, L Holsey, P Cringle, N Cheishvili, M Bright, R Brand, W Magie, O Allsopp.
Ealing Trailfinders: T Bell; E Niko, L Jones, P Howard, R Joseph; C Willis, J Burns; J Els, A Walker, E Millar-Mills, S Dickinson, J Cannon, K Murphy, J Reid, R Smid. Subs: M Cornish, J Ellwood, G Davis, B West, A Korczyk, N Fowles, S Shingler, S Buckley.
Referee: Fergus Kirby
London Scottish: Tries: Barton, Beattie, Bright, Duncan; Cons: Sheppard 2, Magie 1..
Ealing Trailfinders: Try: Els 2, Bell, Joseph, Buckley; Con: Willis Pens: Willis 3.
Scoring sequence (London Scottish first): 0-3; 0-6; 5-6; 7-6; 7-9; 12-9; 14-9; 14-14; 14-16 (h-t) 14-21; 14-23; 14-28; 14-30; 14-35, 19-35, 19-40; 19-42,; 24-42; 26-42.
Man-of-the-Match: With Burns Night on the horizon it seemed a formality that Jordan, Ealing’s scrum-half, would be the star of the show. Commanding his pack around the park, the general dictated proceedings. A notable mention for Mark Bright, however, who was introduced early to the fray and will undoubtedly be staking a claim for a starting berth next time out after a faultless display.
Talking point: It may have been a consolation score but Mark Bright’s dot down was very easy on the eye. Against his former club, the No 8 collected Rob Stevenson’s pop-up from the deck on the run, as he scampered down the line from just outside the 22 with a defender to beat he showed a sidestep the most talented winger would be proud of.