Jersey Reds 24 Ealing Trailfinders 3217/02/2018
The Reds went down to a narrow defeat to the Championship's second-placed side in a game featuring four tries for each side.
Ealing Trailfinders scored 25 points in a 27-minute spell either side of half-time and then withstood a Jersey comeback in the closing stages. It was the visitors' 13th win in 16 Championship outings, and halted an impressive recent run by the Reds.
After Brendan Cope missed an early penalty chance for the hosts, Ealing kicked their opening penalties to the corner and engineered a mauled try for James Gibbons, only for the Reds to respond in kind courtesy of hooker Jack Macfarlane.
There was little to choose between the sides at the half-hour mark but then Trailfinders struck twice before the break courtesy of two pinpoint kicks by ex-Jersey fly-half Aaron Penberthy to his wingers, with both Will Harries and James Cordy-Redden outjumping their opponents to score.
Although Seb Nagle-Taylor finished another Jersey maul soon after the break, Ealing added another 11 points to their tally courtesy of two Pete Lydon penalties and a try from Luke Carter's quick-fire break up the middle having seized a loose ball.
The Reds claimed two tries in the final quarter to pick up a losing bonus point, with Macfarlane's second from a well-worked catch-and-drive, and Tom Pincus going over for his ninth league try of the season after fine approach work and a scoring pass from Jerry Sexton. Olly Bryant could have secured a second point, and set up a grandstand finish, but a tricky conversion slid across the posts.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon said his Jersey had been frustrated after the game, which ended in his side's first defeat in six Friday night league and cup outings this season.
"We said that the match would be a good gauge of how far we'd come since going to Ealing in October and losing heavily [31-8]," he said. "To that extent we could take some positives from tonight's result, but three of the tries we conceded were down to our errors and we're disappointed by that.
"We are in a tough sequence against Bedford, Ealing and Bristol and only earned one point from the three games earlier in the season, so to have six already with Bristol to play is a good effort. We were able to give some players game-time today and manage others' workloads, and hopefully that means the squad will be peaking at the back-end of the season."
Head Coach Alex Codling was pleased with the reaction from his players after a narrow defeat to league leaders Bristol in their previous outing.
"The stats show that when you have a tough encounter against Bristol, especially with a six-day turn-around, it's difficult to get back up for your next game, so to get five points from a tough away trip is a great effort," he said. "Jersey were strong in the last quarter, but we'd got the points on the board."
JERSEY REDS: Worrall; Pincus, Van Breda (c), Eastwell, Hodson; Cope (Bryant 60), Hardy (Dudley 60); Godfrey (c) (Woolmore 52), Macfarlane (Selway 65), Atalifo (Armstrong HT), Sexton, Mckern (Kolo'ofa'i 52), Bartle, Nagle-Taylor (Upfield 48), Argyle.
EALING TRAILFINDERS: Lydon; Harries, O'Conor, Robling, Cordy-Redden; Penberthy, Carter (Waters 65); Gibbons (Davis 70), Walker (Cornish 65), Tampin (Thiede 49), Maddison, Casson, Murphy, Temm (Bright 73), Allen (Smid 65). Not used: Daniels
REFEREE: Christophe Ridley. Assistants: Lionel Spooner, Darryl Chapman
Half Time: 7-21
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by Match Sponsor Randalls): Aaron Penberthy (Ealing)
Tries: Macfarlane 13, 64, Nagle-Taylor 47, Pincus 73
Conversions: Cope 13, Bryant 64
Tries: Gibbons 5, Harries 30, Cordy-Redden 39, Carter 53
Conversions: Lydon 5, 30, 39
Penalties: Lydon 51, 57