Ealing Trailfinders 22-23 London Irish
Ealing Trailfinders were denied a famous win against the Greene King IPA Championship leaders in front of their biggest crowd of the season when Irish fullback Tommy Bell hit a late penalty.
Both teams pushed each other hard for the full 80 minutes in a ferocious contest and the result means that Ben Ward’s team finished with a losing bonus point that keeps them fourth in the table.
Ealing Trailfinders quickly found their stride and after building pressure in the Irish half, debutant Miles Mantella broke the line, linked with Aled Jenkins, Arthur Ellis and Kieran Murphy, who set Phil Chesters to finish in the corner.
Bell closed the gap with a penalty as the visitors began to find their rhythm. After continuing to apply pressure fly-half James Marshall ran in their first try of the match after good interplay in midfield between Brendan McKibbin and Fergus Mulchrone.
Both teams continued to chance their arm with the ball and Chesters narrowly missed Aaron Penberthy’s crosskick. Llewelyn Jones then came up with an important lineout steal when Irish had kicked deep from a penalty.
Mark Bright began to impose himself further on the match and set Will Harries free to race clear after he had shrugged off three tacklers. Harries was hauled down short of the line and while Murphy kept the mover going, Irish’s defence continued to hold out.
Bright then made a vital tackle on Mulchrone on the stroke of halftime to ensure the hosts remained in touching distance at the break.
Penberthy scored the first points of the half with a well-struck penalty and Murphy and Harries both made runs that caused the Irish defence problems, albeit without breaking through. Instead it was Irish who added to the score when Topsy Ojo hit a strong line off a Marshall inside pass.
Ealing Trailfinders response was emphatic and after the pack built momentum on the line, Llewelyn Jones marked his return to action by wiggled through the Irish defence, which along with Penberthy’s conversion closed the deficit to two points.
Irish’s pack won a scrum penalty that Bell banged over, but Ealing Trailfinders again responded in fine style. Jenkins found space to break through the midfield and once more Chesters was on his shoulder to round off the move.
Harries was again stopped short after he was first to a Penberthy crosskick and Jenkins then had to make an important tackle on Scott Steele after the reserve scrumhalf raced clear.
Bell hit his second penalty with less than 10 minutes to play, but Ealing Trailfinders maintained their energy levels. One last counter-attack broke down and that allowed Irish to run the clock down and Steele to hammer the ball clear to bring the match to an end.
Tries (Chesters 6, 67, Llewelyn Jones 56), Conversions (Penberthy 56, 67), Penalties (Penberthy 44)
Tries (Marshall 19, Ojo 52), Conversions (Bell 19, 52), Penalties (Bell 14, 64, 71)
Will Harries, Miles Mantella, Aled Jenkins, Joe Munro, Phil Chesters, Aaron Penberthy, Luke Carter; Will Davis, Alun Walker, Llewelyn Jones, Barney Maddison, Kieran Murphy, Arthur Ellis, Mark Bright (captain)
Matt Cornish, James Gibbons, Sam Rodman, Chris York, Rayn Smid, Alex Walker, Lewis Jones
Tommy Bell, Topsy Ojo, Ciaran Hearn, Fergus Mulchrone, Aseli Tikoirotuma, James Marshall, Brendan McKibbin, Tom Court, David Paice (captain), Ben Franks, George Robson, Sebastian De Chaves, Mike Coman, Blair Cowan, Ofisa Treviranus
Todd Gleave, Harry Elrington, Oliver Hoskins, Will Lloyd, Luke Narraway, Scott Steele, Johnny Williams
Referee – JP Doyle
Attendance – 2,630
STORM Watches Man of the Match – Mark Bright