Ealing Trailfinders 25 Jersey 2321/03/2014
Ealing Trailfinders 25 Jersey 23
Greene King IPA Championship
by Tom Innes
(Reproduced by kind permission of the JEP)
Jersey may yet outlast Ealing Trailfinders in the battle to avoid relegation, but the West London side were able to claim a notable double over their Channel Islands rivals last night.
A narrow victory in a pulsating but error-strewn encounter represented Ealing's first points on home soil this season, and reduced the margin between 11th and 12th in the table to nine points. Jersey's attempts to seal the survival deal will have to wait; hopefully no longer than the home match with Moseley next Saturday.
The Reds could hardly have got off to a better start, working the ball wide to Grant Pointer, who made good ground and fed Drew Locke. The pass inside to his fellow centre Mark McCrea didn't go to hand, but the Irishman hacked on, chased, gathered the bouncing ball and crashed over. Aaron Penberthy added five points with the conversion and a fine penalty from more than 40 metres.
The home side soon managed to force their way into the game with a penalty kicked to the corner, followed by an attacking lineout. Jersey expected a rolling maul, but instead Alex Bradley nipped up the blindside and touched down.
Undaunted, Jersey attacked and again the centre partners linked up for a try: Locke chipped forward and McCrea raced to touch down the bouncing ball. Not only that, but Penberthy added the conversion and Ealing speedster Phil Chesters was yellow-carded for a professional foul.
Jersey's 5-17 lead looked good, but masked some problems: the first three lineouts by the visitors were all lost, and the penalty count was also mounting against the men in red. To begin with Ealing only had a Ben Ward penalty to show for it, but then they seized the moment in a crucial passage of play just before half-time.
Firstly a penalty try was awarded to Ealing after a prodigious scrum drive, and Jersey's Ryan Hodson was yellow-carded for trying to prevent the score (which made it 15-17). Then Jersey tight-head Dave Young went off injured and within two minutes his replacement Nick Selway was himself banished to the bin for another penalty.
The visitors at least had the satisfaction of the final score of the half, courtesy of Penberthy's boot, but knew they'd be in for a tough start to the second period. That's exactly what happened, with some sustained Ealing pressure sucking in the cover defence, and then the ball spun wide for a straightforward finish for Chesters. Ward's kick put his team in the lead for the first time before the clock had hit two minutes.
Penberthy's fine game with the boot continued when he restored Jersey's lead with another penalty, but Ward responded in kind just before the hour mark, and both sides entered the final quarter knowing the game was up for grabs.
Jersey's lineout weakness may have been eliminated in the second period, but they remained prone to the shrill blast of the referee's whistle, and the 2 to 1 penalty count remained to the end of the game. This allowed Ealing to eventually close out the game.
Jersey's commitment was not to be questioned, with some fine play by both forwards and backs, with the centres playing well, and both James Voss and Latu Maka'afi especially prominent. but once they were on the referee's wrong side they seemed unable to remedy the situation, and this was at the heart of the narrow defeat.
Forwards: Sean McCarthy, Elvis Taione, Dave Young, Nick Campbell, James Voss, Alex Rae (capt), Ryan Hodson (YC 32), Latu Maka'afi.
Backs: Nicky Griffiths, Aaron Penberthy, Mark Foster, Mark McCrea, Drew Locke, Grant Pointer, Jack Burroughs.
Replacements: Nick Selway (YC 38) for Young (36min), Sam Lockwood for McCarthy (48), Jimmy Williams for Griffiths (49), David Bishop for Pointer (61), Joe Buckle for Hodson (71).Not used:Luke Stratford, Niall O'Connor.
Forwards: Ryan Storer, Andrei Radoi, Conor Carey, Steve Pape, Gavin Curry, Adam Preocanin, Alex Bradley, Matt Evans (capt).
Backs: Morgan Thompson, Ben Ward, Phil Chesters (YC 19), Tom Bedford, Harry Sloan, Chris Kinloch, Andrew Henderson.
Replacements: Richard Townsend, Steve Neville, Tim Brockett, George Merrick, TJ Anderson, Tom Parker, Billy Robinson.
Referee: Matt Carley
Men-of-the-match:Adam Bradley (Ealing) and Latu Maka'afi (Jersey)
Tries: Bradley 10, Penalty Try 32, Chesters 41
Conversions: Ward 32, 41
Penalties: Ward 21, 56
Tries: McCrea 3, Maka'afi 19
Conversions: Penberthy 3, 19
Penalties: Penberthy 8, 35, 48