The Reds’ hopes of a rare Championship success over old rivals Ealing – which would have extended the Island side’s tenure of top-spot in the league table – were blown away at Vallis Way.
Trailfinders registered six tries, three in each half, with the half-back pair of Craig Hampson and Craig Willis arguably the biggest influencers of the outcome.
The Reds had to be content with a bonus point after an afternoon that saw far too many errors, particularly when penalties were kicked for territory only for the resulting lineout to be lost. Unfortunately the visitors rarely looked like having any success with an attacking lineout against opponents reported to have conceded just one mauled try so far this season.
The home side struck first with Reuben Bird-Tulloch the danger man. The centre made an initial break and was hauled down just short, and was then in the right place on the opposite side to take an inside pass and just make it across the line.
The Reds attacked straight from the restart and had a chance from an attacking lineout. The ball was overthrown, but gathered by Sean O’Connor and when it was worked across the field Alex McHenry went over.
Brendon Owen’s intercept brought excitement to Vallis Way as the full-back burst forward. It was 90 metres to the line and unfortunately he couldn’t quite make it nor find the supporting Tomi Lewis.
Wing Cian Kelleher claimed Ealing’s second score just before the mid-point of the first half, finishing well in the corner. Then on the half-hour scrum-half Craig Hampson sniped over for a third score and Craig Willis added an excellent touchline conversion for 19-5.
Needing something before the break, the Reds were struggling to impose themselves through the attacking lineout but did then string together enough phases for James Dun to crash over under the posts.
Bennett added an easy conversion (19-12) and it could have been even better for the visitors as the fly-half opted to go for goal with the last kick of the half, but fired the ball just wide.
The first score after the break is often important, and it was Hampson who claimed it in the 47th minute courtesy of a lavish dummy after a spell of pressure. Willis added the conversion and then a penalty to stretch the advantage to 17 points.
The Reds still had their moments in attack, one of which saw Holgate cross in the corner for a third try, but then that man Hampson struck again with a pacy dart from the base of a ruck and scoring pass to replacement prop Ross Kane to finish by the posts.
Harvey Biljon emptied his bed in a bid to give his side some zip and accuracy, and two of the new men combined for the bonus point try as Charlie Powell fed Will Brown in midfield and the wing carved through the defensive line at pace to score in the corner.
Willis had the last word with a try after 73 minutes, which he also converted (for a sixth successful kick from seven attempts), while the Reds inaccuracy continued to the last play as a penalty kick to touch went into touch-in-goal and the final whistle was blown by referee Luke Pearce, who had officiated with authority and clarity throughout.
Ealing moved a point clear of the Reds at the top of the table and have a game in hand which they will look to ‘cash in’ when they travel to Caldy on January 7th, while the Reds next game will be away to Coventry the following Saturday.
Pics by Simon Cooper @snapzman.co.uk
EALING: Jonah Holmes; Luke Daniels, Reuben Bird-Tulloch, Pat Howard, Cian Kelleher; Craig Willis, Craig Hampson; Kyle Whyte, Shaun Malton, Lewis Thiede, David O'Connor, Danny Cutmore, Rob Farrar, Carlo Tizzano, Rayn Smid (capt).
Replacements (used): Cam Terry, Will Davis, Ross Kane, Bobby De Wee, Simon Uzokwe, Steven Shingler, Jack Digby. Unused: Jordan Burns
JERSEY REDS: Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett (Will Brown 57), Alex McHenry (Charlie Powell 52), Jordan Holgate, Tomi Lewis; Russell Bennett, James Mitchell (James Elliott 52); Sam Grahamslaw (Greg McGrath 61), Eoghan Clarke (TJ Harris 48), Steve Longwell (Adam Nicol 39), Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook (Hamish Bain 57), James Dun, Lewis Wynne (capt), Max Argyle (Tim Grey 62).
REFEREE: Luke Pearce. Assistants: George Selwood, Mike Woods
Half Time: 19-12
Tries: Bird-Tulloch 3, Kelleher 19, Hampson 30, 47, Kane 65, Willis 74
Conversions: Willis 3, 30, 47, 65, 74
Penalty: Willis 53
Tries: McHenry 7, Dun 37, Holgate 62, Brown 68
Conversion: Bennett 37
03 Feb 2023
Home side look to improve poor record over London rivals