Ealing Trailfinders 21 v Blackheath 14.
Not the most convincing of performances, but from an Ealing perspective one that keeps the Trailfinders comfortably at the head of the table and on course for Championship rugby next term.
Nevertheless, Blackheath will look back and wonder how so much second period territory and possession failed to yield the crucial score that might have dented the league-leaders’ progress.
‘Our endeavour was 100% but for our execution I’ll give us one out of ten,’ said the Club’s performance director Yusuf Ibrahim.
‘We must have had 80% of the ball after the break but couldn’t do anything with it until the game was gone, and we conceded a soft try through Ealing’s only attack of the period.’
Indeed there was little separating the scores throughout. The two sides were locked together during the opening half hour with Club fly-half Rory Teague cancelling out two Tom Wheatcroft penalties for a 6-6 scoreline, but in the 33rd minute Ealing conjured up the try that effectively settled the match.
With Blackheath numbers sucked into the ruck, Ealing full-back Peter Hodkinson’s neat pass found Wheatcroft who threaded a delightful grubber-kick for wing Phil Chesters to collect and dive across in the corner.
Wheatcroft missed with the conversion, but the inside-centre’s third penalty gave the hosts a 14-6 interval lead.
Blackheath had failed to capitalise on two attacking line-outs prior to the break, but now, after the re-start, they once again enjoyed the territorial advantage. However, crucial knock-ons and lack of penetration in the final quarter of the field continued to deny them, a third Teague penalty their only reward, and although they had the better of the line-out play, Ealing second-row Steve Pape continually knocked them back.
Eventually, Ealing broke the shackles and forced play into the opposition half of the field, and as the West Londoners picked and drove their way forward, replacement hooker Jon Moyce crossed to put the game beyond doubt, right-wing Liam Gibson’s late score salvaging a bonus point for the visitors.
‘Our matches against Blackheath are always close and this was another tough London derby played on a difficult surface,’ said Ealing head coach Mike Cudmore.
‘On the positive side we got the win, but I was very disappointed with certain areas, particularly our line-out. It negates our forward platform and it’s something we need to work on.’
Next Saturday, Blackheath are on the road again as they travel to the north-east for their re-arranged fixture against second-placed Blaydon, kick-off 2.00 pm at Crow Trees.
Tries: Chesters, Moyce.
Pens: Wheatcroft 3.
Pens: Teague 3.