Ealing Trailfinders 24 – 23 Bedford Blues
Ealing Trailfinders held off a Bedford Blues fightback to record their fifth win in a row and go up to third in the Greene King IPA Championship table.
Rhys Lawrence and Aled Jenkins scored in the first half and Alex Penny ran in the winner in the second half, while Aaron Penberthy weighed in with nine points with his boot.
The Blues fought back in a much improved second-half performance, but Ealing Trailfinders’ defence held them out till the very last play.
The hosts immediately went on the attack and Curtis Wilson nearly went over in the corner, but the Bedford Blues cover defence bundled him into touch. However, Jacob Fields overthrew the lineout and his opposite number Lawrence was happy to accept the invite to bundle his way over for the opening score.
Bedford hit back when Myles Dorrian knocked over a penalty, but Penberthy landed his first of the day soon after to restore the seven-point advantage.
Luke Daniels knocked on after swift hands from Joe Munro and Jenkins had set him free and Wilson then cut a strong line through the Bedford defence to keep it on the back foot.
Both teams continued to test each other’s defence up to the half-hour mark, but it wasn’t till Jenkins finished off a flowing move that he started that the scoreboard ticked over again.
The centre wiggled his way through the Bedford defence and found Lawrence. He moved the ball on to Carwyn Jones and the second-row showed deft hands to release Jenkins who had looped round to race home.
Bedford roared back at the start of the second half and Alex Walker needed to be alert to clear up a George Perkins kick through. Dorrian scored his second penalty of the match and then Oli Dodge rounded off a good period of pressure by finding a gap to race through.
Lawrence came close to being driven over for his second try, but good work from Hayden Thompson-Stringer stopped him short of the line. The Ealing Trailfinders pack tried twice more, but on both occasions they were unable to find a way through the Bedford defence.
Burns and Perkins teamed up to lead a counter-attack that finished when Dorrian brought the Blues to within a point.
Daniels set James Cordy-Redden free, but again Bedford’s defence stood tall. Ealing Trailfinders third try came shortly afterwards though as Penny popped up in midfield to race home from Chris York’s flick pass.
Reigning Players’ Player of the Year Adam Preocanin came off the bench for his first appearance of the season and immediately came up with a vital lineout steal and Cordy-Redden then made a vital intercept close to the line as Bedford attacked in the dying moments.
Blues’ hooker George Edgson went over at the death and while it meant they were able to claim a losing point, there was no time left for them to go for the win.
Tries (Lawrence 3, Jenkins 33, Penny 70), Conversions (Penberthy 3, 33, 70), Penalties (Penberthy 11)
Tries (Dodge 47, Edgson 79), Conversions (Dorrian 47, 79), Penalties (Dorrian 8, 43, 66)
Luke Daniels, James Cordy-Redden, Aled Jenkins, Joe Munro, Curtis Wilson, Aaron Penberthy, Alex Walker; Will Davis, Rhys Lawrence, Lewis Thiede, Carwyn Jones, Harry Casson, Willie Ryan, Arthur Ellis, Mark Bright (captain)
Mark Cornish, James Gibbons, Alex Penny, Adam Preocanin, Chris York, Luke Carter, Ben Ward
Elliot Clement-Hill, Pat Tapley, Michael Le Bourgeois (c), Ollie Dodge, George Perkins, Myles Dorrian, Tom James; Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Jacob Fields, Dave Spelman, Mike Howard, Will Carrick-Smith, Ed Taylor, Ben Adams, Jason Hill
George Edgson, Jack Culverhouse, Christian Judge, Byron Hodge, Josh Buggea, Jordan Burns, Jake Sharp
Referee – Jack Makepeace
Attendance - 789