Jersey Reds were put to the sword by free-scoring Ealing Trailfinders, who kept up their impressive form this season and reached 30 league points from six league games in which they have racked up a positive points difference of 264.
It was a tough afternoon for the visitors, who played the last 25 minutes of the game after a red card for Apakuki Ma’afu and finished one try short of a bonus for their efforts.
There were some promising flashes for the Reds, with combative efforts from four players making their competitive debuts: Matti Williams, James Scott, Eoghan Clarke and Lesley Klim.
After a minute's silence in honour of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Reds were behind early on when the front row was harshly penalised before the very first scrum had settled. The penalty was kicked to touch by Ealing and then another penalty was given from the maul as two Red backs encroached. Another maul looked likely, but hooker burst off the side before it had formed, broke a tackle and fed fly-half Bill Johnston for a try by the posts which he also converted.
The maul was also the vehicle of choice for the home side when Simon Uzokwe touched down to make it 12-0.
The Reds had enjoyed very little possession by this point, although soon afterwards Darren Atkins had a good break down the left but was just hauled down by David Johnston.
The Reds’ scrum was impressive after the initial setback, competing solidly in spite of an enforced change with Roy Godfrey forced off after eight minutes and replaced by Ollie Dawe.
Malton added another mauled effort for his side’s third try, but then the Reds struck after a period of pressure. The ball was fed wide from a scrum, Scott Van Breda grubber-kicked through and Brendan Owen got the touchdown just before the ball crossed the dead-ball line (17-5).
The Reds would have reasonably happy to hear the half-time whistle at this point, but in the event there was a spell of Ealing pressure ending with a try for skipper Rayn Smid.
The second half started at a lively pace. The Reds scored first when Williams powered over on debut, with Brendan Cope converting, but then the home side scored twice in three minutes with Smid grabbing his second and then feeding scrum-half Craig Hampson.
Red pressure saw a powerful maul gain a penalty advantage and a Cope cross-kick to the corner where Owen leapt high for the bouncing ball and just grounded it before being forced into touch-in-goal.
With three tries on the board and a third of the match to play, the Reds were in a reasonable position, but the remainder of the match was an unfortunate episode. Firstly Ma’afu clashed heads with Dean Hammond and the Tongan’s attempted tackle was ruled to have a ‘high degree of danger’ by referee Neil Chivers, who produced a red card.
Play was halted for almost 15 minutes while Hammond received attention and eventually departed on a stretcher. His team-mates were determined to mark his departure in a positive way, doing so with a burst of four more tries.
Replacement scrum-half Jordan Burns crossed twice, his second a fine effort after replacement Guy Thompson gathered his own chip ahead; then Max Bodilly finished another long-range attack and finally Smid cantered over for his side’s 10th try, also completing a hat-trick.
The Reds never gave up in the search for a try bonus point, but the Ealing defence held firm until the final whistle.
After a run of away games, the Reds will look forward to a long-awaited outing on home-turf next weekend, when Nottingham will be the visitors to Stade Santander International.
Pictures: Simon Cooper, Snapzman.co.uk
Ealing Trailfinders v Jersey Reds– Greene King IPA Championship, Round 6/11, Trailfinders Sports Ground, Saturday April 17th 2021, k-o 1pm
Ealing Trailfinders (15-9, 1-8)
David Johnston; Angus Kernohan, Max Bodilly, Pat Howard, Dean Hammond; Bill Johnston, Craih Hampson; Kyle White, Shaun Malton, Lewis Thiede, Simon Linsell, Harry Casson, Bobby De Wee, Simon Uzokwe, Rayn Smid (capt)
Replacements: Michael Van Vuuren, Will Davis, Elliott Millar-Mills, James Cannon, Guy Thompson, Shane Buckley, Jordan Burns, Luke Daniels
Jersey Reds (15-9, 1-8 * = debut)
Brendan Owen; Lesley Klim *, Scott Van Breda, Apakuki Ma’afu (RC 56), Darren Atkins; Brendan Cope, Max Green; Roy Godfrey, Eoghan Clarke *, Dan Richardson, James Scott *, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Lewis Wynne (capt), Matti Williams *.
Replacements: Jack Macfarlane, Ollie Dawe, Jack Higgins, Zak Farrance, Tim Grey, James Elliott, Josh Bainbridge, Jack Roberts
Tries: Johnston 5, Uzokwe 11, Malton 28, Smid 40, 45, 73, Hampson 47, Burns 58, 60, Bodilly 64
Conversions: Johnston 5, 40, 45, 58, 60, 64, 73
Tries: Owen 37, 53, Williams 43
Conversions: Cope 43
Referee: Neil Chivers. Assistants: Steve Lee, Simon Adams