Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Academy sides face tough away ties
Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Academy kicked-off their pre-season schedule with back-to-back fixtures over the weekend, succumbing to Welsh Premiership outfit Pontypridd 28-12 but bouncing back the following day with an emphatic 51-45 win over Horsham.
By Ryan Fitzgerald-Nolan
After a long 18 months without 15's rugby, the Academy made their return to the pitch in south Wales to take on Justin Burnell’s men last Friday (20th).
21 of the 24-man matchday squad against ‘Ponty’ were awarded their Academy debuts by head coach Paddy Gill at Sardis Road, in what was a valuable test against established opposition.
Former London Irish academy star Josh Taylor showed his agility in the first half and touched down following some nice interplay from the turnover, following a Dale Stuckey try and nine points from fly-half Ben Burnell for Pontypridd.
The hosts replied with two converted tries from Morgan Richards and Joe Miles to extend the deficit to 23 at the break.
Trailfinders Academy returned from the interval with a rejuvenated sense of purpose, earning more territory and possession of the ball which culminated in replacement hooker Samson Adejimi crossing over after several phases of play from a lineout.
Both sides failed to register more points after Adejimi’s converted breakthrough despite concerted pressure from the respective teams, as the Welsh outfit’s Cavan Davies was denied after being bundled into touch on the breakaway.
Any doubts cast over the Academy’s ability against difficult opposition were firmly settled in a 51-45 victory over London 1 South side Horsham.
Trailfinders Rugby Academy’s strength in depth was highlighted as scrum-half Presley Farrance was the only consistent squad member across both fixtures, having replaced Ciaran Roberts on the visit to Wales and making his starting berth at Horsham the next day.
Farrance was one of eight try scorers on the Academy’s travels to west Sussex, with Hartpury College product Mason Hughes, Dan Lilley and former members of the Wasps Academy Scott Harman and Mikey Mbaud all crossing the whitewash.
Dan Hoggar and Rhys Thomas joined star performer in the recent Super 7s series Ethan Heath-Drury in completing the win for the Trailfinders Rugby Academy with tries of their own.
Pontypridd 28 – 12 Trailfinders Rugby Academy (Friday 20th August)
Tries: Josh Taylor, Samson Adejimi
Conversion: Matt Dalrymple
1. Lefty Zigiriadis (Garratty)
2. Taine Wagstaff (Samson Adejimi)
3. Joe Keohane (Jewell)
4. Oguntibeju (Gilson-Fox)
5. Josh Taylor (Hill)
6. Andrew Fadera (Adeyeye)
8. Matt Mahoney (C) (Cannon)
9. Ciaran Roberts (Presley Farrance)
10. Matt Dalrymple
11. Wilson Ijeh (Groark)
13. Axel Kalling-Smith
14. Jasper Sorrell
15. Gabe Jones
Horsham 41-54 Trailfinders Rugby Academy (Saturday 21st August)
Tries: Scott Harman, Dan Lilley, Ethan Heath-Drury, Presley Farrance, Mason Hughes, Mikey Mbaud, Dan Hoggar, Rhys Thomas.
1. Lewis Perkins (Mikey Mbaud)
2. Morgan Veness (Seb Dickens)
3. Ash Chirima
4. Jake Parkinson (Daffyd Thomas)
5. Rhys Thomas
6. Toby Ponsford (Jack Lewis)
7. Mason Hughes
8. Albert Slade
9. Presley Farrance (Leon Wood)
10. Jack Hughes
11. Fin Gilmour (Dan Hoggar)
12. Dan Lilley
13. Ethan Heath-Drury (Joe Pattinson)
14. Anatoli Anyanwu (Scott Harman)
15. Tom Jones