REPORT: Blackheath 12 - 45 Ealing Trailfinders
Ealing Trailfinders maintained their nine-point lead over Rosslyn Park at the top of National 1 with seven tries in a five-point victory away to their rivals from south-east London.
With Park enjoying a five-point win at home to Tynedale, it means that Ben Ward’s team will need to beat their south-west London rivals in their final home match next week to secure the National 1 title.
Captain Tom Brown’s catch and carry from kick off set the early tone. Will Harries then set Phil Chesters free down the left wing and was only stopped by a well-executed tackle from fullback Ryan Squires.
In their penultimate match of the season, Blackheath showed that they were in the mood to play. The on-loan Gordon Ross was pulling the strings from fly-half and from a pop pass centre Geoff Griffiths posted an early indication of their intentions when he showed strength and agility to break the Ealing Trailfinders line.
The first score came just past the quarter of an hour mark, with the now-familiar combination of a Llewelyn Jones lineout catch, a drive from the pack and Arthur Ellis dropping over the line.
Three minutes later Sam Wardingley raced in the second after Ward picked out Chris Kinloch with a cross-field kick and the Scotsman popped the ball up for Wardingley to enjoy a straightforward run in against his former side.
Two more tries quickly followed. First Nik Grier opened Blackheath’s scoring when he replicated Ellis’ score after George Oram rose highest at a lineout. Then Harries raced from his own 22 as Ealing Trailfinders hit back immediately.
The match settled back into a pattern as both teams maintained their attacking ambitions, but in both cases their defences came out on top. With halftime approaching though the Ealing Trailfinders pack opted for a scrum from a penalty and after a strong drive Brown touched down to secure the four-try bonus point.
Both teams sought to continue their attacking style at the start of the second half and while both sides pinned their opponents in their own half at times, minor errors following good moves stopped either side from adding to the score.
It meant that for the first 20 minutes of the second the score remained as it was, but eventually and after another error, Llewelyn Jones swooped on a loose ball and his soft pass gave Andy Reay a simple run to the line.
Shortly afterwards prop Kevin Davis pulled off a glorious show and give to set Harries free for his second, but the impressive Griffiths wiggled his way over as the hosts continued to keep the ball in hand.
The last word went to the visitors though. Daniels broke through the heart of the Blackheath defence and offloaded to Phil Chesters to score. It means that all eyes will now turn to Vallis Way in seven days-time when the National 1 title will be up for grabs.
Tries (Grier 22, Griffiths 71), Conversions (Squires 22)
Tries (Ellis 16, Wardingley 19, Harries 24, 68, Brown 40, Reay 61, Chesters 76), Conversions (Ward 19, Daniels 40, 62, 69, 76)
Ryan Squires, Jake Lloyd, Markus Burcham (captain), Geoff Griffiths, Joe Hardy, Gordon Ross, Tom Trotter; Bertie Haskins, Nikolas Grier, Aston Croall, Fred Owens, George Oram, Chris Sewell, Jesse Liston, Isaac Ajayi
Harry Fry, Stefan North, Dave Kearsey, Omari Caro, Jake Bedding
Will Harries, Chris Kinloch, Sam Wardingley, Andy Reay, Phil Chesters, Ben Ward, Alex Walker; Tom Smallbone, Matt Thompson, Nathan Buck, Paul Spivey, Llewelyn Jones, Redford Pennycook, Tom Brown (captain)
Kevin Davis, Alex Penny, Carwyn Jones, Anders Nilsson, Luke Daniels
Referee – Rob Warburton
Attendance – 1, 346