Rugby Result: Ealing Trailfinders 15 Rosslyn Park 19
Second place for Park despite win as Ealing take National 1 Championship
A superb performance by Park, but when skipper Hugo Ellis’ younger brother, Arthur, wormed his way over for a try for Ealing on 63 minutes to take them within 7 points of Park it was enough to secure for the home side the losing bonus point and with it the League title. Had Park held them out, it would almost certainly only have postponed the inevitable for another week. Park can look back on a fine performance to beat the Champions, and a fine season in which they will again finish runners-up.
In laying their 3G artificial pitch, Ealing declined to level off their traditional slope. However a stiff end-to-end breeze was the main advantage. Park enjoyed it in the first half, and set about their business from the off. The home side had barely got out of their half when Park forced a penalty on 5 minutes. It was 35 metres out, wide enough to be difficult, but fly half Scott Sneddon struck it perfectly for 3-0.
Park made clear from the start that they had not come to make up the numbers for a home celebration party. With tireless harrying and tackling they denied their hosts much worthwhile possession and were soon back in enemy territory, claiming an Ealing throw and forcing a further penalty on 9 minutes. This one was 40 metres out but Sneddon again made no mistake for 6-0.
Ealing came back at Park, gaining a penalty. They put down a marker by spurning an easy three points to go for the catch and drive. They looked distinctly menacing and forced a repeat. But too often their discipline was to let them down in promising situations. They conceded a penalty and then got themselves marched back 10 metres to allow Sneddon to clear beyond half way.
It was cut and thrust stuff as Ealing came back at Park only for centre Paul Mackey to run them back into their own territory. Again Ealing conceded a penalty but this time Sneddon yielded to human frailty and narrowly missed possibly his most straightforward chance of the afternoon.
Ealing were constantly looking to attack, but Park’s tigerish tackling frustrated them, starving them of decent possession with which to do it. Trying too hard to remedy that situation saw them concede a further penalty on 24 minutes, a long range effort. Sneddon proved equal to the task for 9-0.
If the home side were feeding off scraps at this stage, they showed their class by turning them into a feast in conjuring a super try up the right, winger Luke Daniels evading the defence at pace. He could not convert his own effort, but for all Park’s possession their lead was cut to 9-5 on 25 minutes.
Ealing pressed, but were sometimes their own worst enemies: a good break ended with a knock on, then they got penalised at a scrum while in a good attacking position.
Park suffered a blow when dangerous winger Dave Vincent had to go off injured, replacement scrum half Jack Gash taking his place.
Back at the Ealing end, the home side again got themselves penalised at a throw on their own 22 and again Sneddon exacted the toll of three points for 12-5 on 33 minutes.
A seven point lead looked scant advantage with which to play against the elements – not to mention Ealing – in the second half. Park threw everything into increasing their lead and looked to have cracked it when a super move saw Mackey go over, but after consulting his touch judge the referee ruled the effort ‘held up’. Park nearly got over again from the scrum, but forced another one. After several individual ‘pick and goes’ at the line the ball was quickly spread wide to where a brick wall would not have stopped prop Alex MacKenzie from bursting over. Sneddon nailed an outstanding conversion with the last kick of the half and a lead of 19-5 looked defendable.
Park drew first blood after the interval with a penalty on halfway, but now playing into the wind Sneddon did not even think of attempting a score, but instead made a safe touch. Ealing cleared with such interest as to have full-back Nev Edwards scampering to retrieve.
It was now mostly Ealing asking the questions, and a particularly awkward one saw Park concede a penalty 25 metres out, which Daniels converted for 19-8 on 49 minutes.
Park did much more than just absorb the pressure. A penalty to touch looked promising until they conceded a free-kick at the line-out. A great run by Baldwin went to the heart of the home defence. A neat move nearly sent Gash in, only stopped at the cost of a yellow card for home scrum half Alex Walker for a professional foul on 58 minutes.
However, Ealing were in no mood for defeat and with a man short were determined to play in the vistors’ half. They launched a good attack up the left, worked the ball to the left and Arthur Ellis got over to the right of the posts, Daniels converting for 19-15.
Ealing had come for a coronation and threw everything at Park, but the visiting defence was absolutely superb in commitment and organisation and they held out for a deserved win. It only slightly dented Ealing’s party, as they had already done enough to be crowned as Champions. But the manner of this win gave the Park faithful also plenty to celebrate.
April 20, 2015