Ealing Trailfinders 56, Fylde 15
Fylde’s attacking and defensive performances in their first eleven fixtures of the season have been top rate but they more than met their match at National One leaders Ealing Trailfinders. The Lancastrians had conceded just eight tries in five away games up to this trip. But this was very different as Ealing ran in eight tries, three before the interval, five in the second period in an excellent display of running rugby. They installed a 3G pitch at Vallis Way during the summer and this suited the attacking ambitions of both teams. But Ealing’s full-time squad train on this surface day in, day out, and have exploited this in the last four home games during which they have run up 243 points. Fylde played their part in a fine spectacle and shop window for National One rugby.
The hosts opened the scoring in the 15th minute when they were awarded a penalty try following a collapsed scrummage. Director of Rugby & fly-half Ben Ward opened his account with a straightforward conversion, the first kick of a perfect ‘eight out of eight’ performance.
In the 19th minute an Ealing player offended in his own half and Fylde fly-half Chris Johnson opened the visitors’ account with a well struck penalty. But this was undermined when in the 23rd minute Fylde lock Joe Robinson was adjudged to have pulled down a line-out and was sinbinned. From the subsequent penalty, scrum-half Alex Walker wriggled over for a try and Ward added the extra points for a 14-3 lead.
In the 31st minute Ealing were pressing deep in the Fylde half when the visitors gained possession and the ball reached winger Oli Brennand on the 22m line. The arch speedster set off down the left and raced 75m downfield for a splendid try. Johnson’s attempted conversion drifted wide but the deficit was down to 8-14.
One of the new stars recruited by Ealing during the summer was Will Harries, the former Northampton Saints, Gwent Dragons & full Wales international wing or fullback. He was at fullback for this game and made his mark with two fine tries either side of the interval. The first was in the 40th minute and, with the subsequent conversion by Ward, this gave his side a crucial 21-8 lead at the break.
Three minutes into the 2nd half Harries was at it again. He received the ball from a scrummage on half way, chipped delicately ahead and raced through to latch on to the ball and race clear for a lovely try. Ward’s conversion took the lead to 28-8.
Fylde heads didn’t drop, however, and they came back strongly. They pressed inside the Trailfinders’ 22m line in the 51st minute and skipper Evan Stewart drove over from close range for his 3rd try of the campaign. Chris Johnson kicked the conversion and Fylde were back in the contest, just, at 15-28 down.
The crucial part of the match was a five minute period from the 54th minute. Firstly, Ealing no 8 Tom Brown scored a try converted by Ward. Fylde flanker Mark Goodman was sinbinned a couple of minutes later and the hosts took full advantage. Centre Andy Reay & winger Chris Kinloch both scored tries within a couple of minutes and, suddenly, Ealing were cruising at 49-15 ahead.
There was just time for the Ward & record try scoring winger Chesters party piece. Ward chipped high to the left corner and Chesters caught the ball cleanly and scored a fine try. Ward completed the afternoon with the conversion and a final score of 56-15.