Ealing Trailfinders 22-34 Nottingham
Phil Chesters scored a late try to salvage a four-try bonus point as Nottingham staged a second-half comeback to take all five points on offer with five tries in 20 minutes.
Ealing Trailfinders led 12-3 through tries from Alex and Alun Walker, but Martin Haag’s side found their rhythm midway through the second half to turn the match around.
Nottingham kicked off and enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, but when they tried to drive their way over from line-outs first Jamie Kilbane and then James Stephenson cleared up to take play up to the half-way line.
At the first scrum Ealing Trailfinders’ pack forced their opposite numbers backwards to win a penalty that Ben Ward cleared to the Nottingham 22. Carwyn Jones’ catch allowed the pack to drive Nottingham forwards backwards and after Iain Grieve was stopped short, Alex Walker wriggled his way across the line.
Mugford hit back with a penalty for Nottingham’s first points and while Toby Freeman broke the Ealing Trailfinders line with a strong run, Luke Daniels hauled him down before Chris York and Chesters combined to bundle Heath Stevens into touch.
Stephenson nearly finished from a cross-kick and Grieve was then stopped short from another catch and drive. Neither side were able to add to the score as the first half drew to a close, though Ealing Trailfinders’ back-line was able to put the Nottingham defence under pressure.
Nottingham scrum-half Darryl Veenendaal started the second half with a break that Pia Iongi was unable to collect, but Alun Walker grabbed the next score when he raced home down the line from an exchange of passes with Carwyn Jones at the front of a line-out.
Veenendaal continued to be a nuisance and from one of his breaks the ball was sent wide and Freeman picked a strong angle to run in for a try that Mugford converted.
The try boosted the visitors’ confidence and number eight Paul Grant added a second from a driven line-out catch to give them the lead for the first time in the match.
Ben Woods extended their lead further when he raced in an intercept try and he added his second soon after to cap a swift counter-attack to put Nottingham fully in control and ensure the four-try bonus point.
Grant’s second try came with seven minutes remaining, but Ealing Trailfinders rallied to ensure they didn’t finish empty-handed.
Hooker Rhys Lawrence was the next player to be driven over from a line-out catch and drive and with two minutes remaining Will Harries led a counter-attack Stephenson continued the move and Chesters was on hand to race away and score in the corner.
Tries (Alex Walker 11, Alun Walker 51, Lawrence 77, Chesters 78), Conversions (Ward 11)
Tries (Freeman 55, Grant 60, 73, Woods 65, 66), Conversions (Mugford 55, 60, 66), Penalties (Mugford 13)
Luke Daniels, James Stephenson, Danny Barnes, Tom Wheatcroft, Phil Chesters, Ben Ward, Alex Walker; Jamie Kilbane, Michael Holford, Carwyn Jones, Adam Preocanin, Llewelyn Jones, Iain Grieve, Chris York (captain)
George Porter, Rhys Lawrence, Nathan Buck, Harrison Orr, Alex Bradley, Alex Davies, Will Harries
Billy Robinson, Pila Iongi, Ben Woods, Heath Stevens, Sam Coghlan Murray, Dan Mugford, Darryl Veenendaal; Kieran Davies, Jon Vickers, Conor Carey, Toby Freeman, Dan Montagu (captain), Ben Morris, Rob Langley, Paul Grant
TJ Harris, Tom Heard, Harry Morley, Rupert Cooper, Murray McConnell, Lawrence Rayner, Ricky Andrew
Referee – Greg MacDonald
Attendance - 310