The Amateurs maintained their unbeaten record since the end of November, but came perilously close to defeat as Guildford showed spirit and tenacity surprising in a team sitting third from bottom in Zoo Shield Division 3 South.
Despite a huge storm the previous night that left Guildford Rugby Club and the whole of the Godalming area without power, the pitch was declared fit after a late inspection, and while mud, surface water and a strong wind meant flowing rugby was out of the question, a good contest ensued.
Kicking off into a diagonal wind, Ealing regained possession and seemed set to make a typically aggressive start, but Guildford won a turnover and put the visitors onto the back foot, where they were to remain for much of the first half. Unusually, the Amateurs found it difficult to secure their own line-out ball in the blustery conditions and were also unable to assert any ascendancy in the set scrums or rucks and mauls. As yet more heavy rain started to fall around a quarter of the way into the game, Guildford kicked ahead and were only denied a try by captain Adam Hulmston falling on the ball as it crossed the line, just ahead of an opponent.
Guildford had the chance to take the lead shortly afterwards when a penalty was awarded 22 metres out, but the kick drifted wide of the posts. With 25 minutes on the clock, Guildford finally earned some reward for the dominance of their forwards when they created an overlap on the left, enabling the wing to evade a last-ditch tackle and score under the posts. After a period with little rugby of note in the middle of a heavy pitch, Ealing found themselves under the cosh again as half-time approached, and the lead was extended to 10-0 with a penalty awarded for pulling down the maul.
Facing the prospect of a shock defeat after a first half when they looked rusty following two consecutive cancelled fixtures, the Amateurs showed marked improvement in the second 40 minutes, without ever looking capable of entirely subduing the opposition. The forwards launched several attacks but were unable to stamp any authority, until a concerted drive eventually brought reward with flanker Mike Whitney touching down under a pile of bodies. With the conversion slotted over by full-back Steve Verma.
The visitors were starting to believe that a win could be salvaged and attacked again from the re-start. When they were finally awarded a penalty within kickable range, Verma duly obliged with three points to tie the score. Despite a period of ascendancy for Guildford and a strong finish by Ealing, there was no further score, and it was generally felt that a draw was a fair reflection of the game, although the visitors were grateful for four missed penalty attempts.
The Amateurs are in action again this Saturday in a rearranged home fixture against Richmond Normans and will need to return quickly to the form they showed in December and January so that they can remain in touch with arch-rivals Chichester at the top of the table.
See all 17 People