Cup woes banished as Ealing Trailfinders chase home quarterfinal
Ealing Trailfinders will try to secure a home quarterfinal in this season’s British and Irish Cup when they take on Yorkshire Carnegie on Saturday.
Ben Ward’s side travel to Scarborough Rugby Club with a quarterfinal place already booked for the first time in the club’s history and in the knowledge that one point will be enough to ensure they finish top of Pool 5.
However, with the top four ranked teams at the end of the pool stage earning home quarterfinals, Ealing Trailfinders are likely to require more if they want a home quarterfinal at Vallis Way over the weekend of 10, 11, 12 March.
So far the team has won four and drawn one. In October they began with a 51-35 win at home to Yorkshire Carnegie and then followed up by beating Dragons Premiership Select 28-27 on the road at Cross Keys.
In December the side face home and away matches against fellow Greene King IPA Championship side Bedford Blues.
Alun Walker grabbed a hat-trick of tries in the first encounter up the M1 at Goldington Road in a match that finished 19-19. In the return a week later at Vallis Way both teams showed their ability to spread the play, but it was the home side who finished on top with a 40-28 victory.
Then a week ago Ealing Trailfinders used their greater experience to beat a young Dragons side 56-19.
The progress this year provide a huge contrast to the previous two Cup campaigns, in 2013-14 and 2015-16.
The team faced a baptism of fire in their first foray into the tournament, away to Leinster A in Dublin which finished 49-8. They then welcomed Cross Keys to Vallis Way and lost 24-15 to the Welsh side.
A further defeat followed against fellow Championship side Moseley, before the team enjoyed some respite with a 21-18 win under the lights of Vallis Way.
Two more defeats followed away to Cross Keys and at home to Leinster A, but in the latter the team took their first bonus point of a tough season when Phil Chesters scored a last-minute try that went from one end of the field to another.
Two years on and once again the team were paired with Leinster A and Moseley, as well as another Championship team in Rotherham Titans.
Defeats away to Moseley and home to Rotherham Titans prefaced two clashes with Leinster A over the festive period. The first finished 45-13 in Donnybrook, before the Dubliners crossed the Irish Sea a week later to prevail 36-10 in west London.
Two more losses came at home to Moseley and then away to Rotherham Titans, in a match that was rearranged after the original fixture had been postponed due to an unplayable pitch.
As such by the time Yorkshire Carnegie arrived in west London last October it had been over two years since the team had won in the Cup. Three more have followed since and another is likely to allow fans at Vallis Way at least one more day of Cup action this season.