REPORT: Ealing Trailfinders 24 – 18 Coventry
Ealing Trailfinders needed a try two minutes from time from substitute Luke Daniels to ensure that they ended the day with their unbeaten home record intact after an enthralling encounter against a fired-up Coventry side.
With the clock ticking down Coventry led by a point, but Daniels rounded Coventry’s Scott Hamilton and Dominic Lespierre to ensure that Ealing Trailfinders’ best crowd of the season left having watched their side finish the match with all five points on offer.
Following a feisty opening, Coventry fly-half Matt Jones opened the scoring when he slotted a penalty after three minutes, but Ealing Trailfinders showed their attacking intentions soon afterwards when Will Harries led a counter-attack that finished when Phil Chesters was tackled into touch after Coventry’s Dan Rundle had raced across from his opposite wing.
A few phases later though the home team took the lead. Not for the first time this season, Llewelyn Jones caught a lineout and flanker Arthur Ellis was driven over.
As Ealing Trailfinders increased their pressure Chris Kinloch was stopped by on-loan Leicester Tigers fullback Scott Hamilton, but when the ball went to the other wing Coventry infringed and once again Ellis was driven over from the resulting lineout.
Jones tried his luck with a penalty from over the halfway line and along with his halfback partner Wayne Evans and the pace of Hamilton at fullback, Coventry were happy to keep the ball in hand as much as possible.
It was symptomatic of a free-flowing match and Coventry continued to play their part with a counter-attack of their own, but Chesters turned the tables on Rundle when he stopped his opposite number from breaking clear.
The visitors did break through just before halftime, when Will Hurrell controlled a loose pass to round off an attacking move with a flourish in the corner. It set up a frantic few minutes before the break in which both teams tries their luck, but Ealing Trailfinders scored their third from another catch and drive after Coventry infringed and the referee awarded a penalty try that Ben Ward converted.
Coventry started the second half in determined mood and would have closed the gap, but for a double Llewelyn Jones tackle. Eventually they opened the scoring when Jones landed his second penalty of the match.
Luke Daniels came off the bench and quickly became put in a try-stopping tackle on Hamilton. However, just past the hour mark Coventry took the lead when the referee awarded a penalty try that Jones converted.
As the clock ran down neither side was able to find a way through two well-drilled defences until Wardingley put Daniels into space down the right hand side and the Port Elizabeth native rounded Dom Lespierre and Hamilton to dot down, with Ward adding the extras.
By now Coventry were down to 13 players as more and more of their side picked up knocks, but it didn’t stop them chancing their arm. However, it was Daniels who had the last word in an absorbing match that was a great advert for National 1 rugby.
Will Harries, Chris Kinloch, Sam Wardingley, Andy Reay, Phil Chesters, Ben Ward, Alex Walker; Tom Smallbone, Matt Thompson, Nathan Buck, Paul Spivey, Llewelyn Jones, Red Pennycook, Arthur Ellis, Tom Brown (captain)
Kevin Davis, Alex Penny, Carwyn Jones, Anders Nilsson, Luke Daniels
Scott Hamilton, Dan Rundle, Mark Hodgkiss, Rob Knox, Will Hurrell, Matt Jones, Wayne Evans (captain), Andy Brown, Matt Price, Adam Parkins, Tom Poole, Scott Morgan, Danny Wright, Alex Woodburn, Sam Pailor
Jake Farnworth, Chad Thorne, Loti Molitika, Callum MacBurnie, Dominic Lespierre
Tries (Ellis 11, 21, penalty 38, Daniels 78), Conversions (Ward 39, 78)
Tries (Hurrell 36, penalty 65), Conversions (Jones 65), Penalties (Jones 3, 52)
STORM Watches Man of the Match – Sam Wardingley
Referee – Fergus Kirby
Attendance – 1, 024