REPORT: Hartpury College 22 – 39 v Ealing Trailfinders
Ealing Trailfinders put in a clinical display to ensure that they left the west country with all five points on offer against Hartpury College, just over a month after they slumped to their second loss of the season down the road in Cinderford.
With Rosslyn Park beating Richmond the previous night Ben Ward’s side knew that they needed to beat a team full of youthful exuberance that have been enjoying their first season in National 1 if they wanted to return to the top of the table. In the end they did so with six tries that ensured they return to top spot with 100 points.
It didn’t take the visitors long to find their rhythm and take control of proceedings; Danny Kenny opened the scoring after eight minutes when he popped up on the end of some slick handling to dive over in the corner.
The pack then began to take control and after they twice tried to power their way over with a caught and driven line-out, on the third referee Fergus Kirby awarded a penalty try after Hartpury College players had infringed once too often.
Despite the early lead, Hartpury College looked more than capable of causing the Ealing Trailfinders problems if their backs had the chance to stretch their legs. Their back three of Ruaridh McConnochie, Steve Reynolds and Jaike Carter were full of pace and attacking endeavour, while centre Steve Leonard showed the type of form that has brought admiring glances from Saracens.
However they were unable to break through the Ealing Trailfinders defence and Luke Daniels kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty before Sam Wardingley finished off a flowing move that Daniels had started and Alex Walker and Llewelyn Jones had kept moving.
After half-time Hartpury College returned in rejuvenated mood and enjoyed some attacking forays, though the closest either team came to adding to the score came when Ealing Trailfinders centre Andy Reay nearly danced through to the line.
Eventually Ealing Trailfinders’ pressure paid off when Arthur Ellis was driven over from a catch and drive. It secured the lineout, but moment later he was yellow carded and Hartpury College capitalised fully when hooker William Tanner and flanker Will Safe scored while he was off the field.
Karl Gibson scored his first try of the season when he latched onto another catch and drive and Walker then popped up on Daniels shoulder to score a sixth after the fullback had been set free by soft hands from Kevin Davis.
Hartpury College had the last word when Carter scored their third try and while Gareth Thompson converted it, ultimately Ealing Trailfinders had put it in a strong performance from which they achieved everything they set out to do at the start of the day.
Tries (Tanner 63, Safe 67, Carter 79), Conversions (Thompson 67, 79), Penalties (Thompson 10)
Tries (Kenny 8, Penalty 17, Wardingley 35, Ellis 60, Gibson 72, Walker 77), Conversions (Daniels 18, 36, 61), Penalties (Daniels 30)
Ruaridh McConnochie, Steve Reynolds, Steve Leonard, Craig Jackson, Jaike Carter, Gareth Thompson, Ben Vellacott; James Gibbons, Chris Fortey, Wayne Thompson, Tom MacDonald, Rob Fuller, Will Safe, Dan Thomas, Lewis Ludlow
Will Tanner, Des Merrey, Tim Brockett, Henry Harper, Matt Protheroe
Luke Daniels, Chris Kinloch, Sam Wardingley, Andy Reay, Phil Chesters, Ben Ward, Alex Walker; Jamie Kilbane, Karl Gibson, Nathan Buck, Carwyn Jones, Llewelyn Jones, Danny Kenny, Arthur Ellis, Tom Brown (captain)
Kevin Davis, Alex Penny, Paul Spivey, Anders Nilsson, Ronnie McLean
Referee – Fergus Kirby