The Men’s 1sts finished off their league campaign with a resounding win over Esher, their fourth win on the bounce and largest margin of victory for the season. Although they lost a prop to injury the evening before the game and were unable to find a replacement, meaning that under league rules they were required to play with fourteen men, Esher were well beaten in all departments, Ealing running in no less than thirteen tries on a sunny April afternoon.
The tone was set for 80 minutes of open, exciting but somewhat unstructured rugby when centre Sofiane Atik benefited from a spilt pass in the Esher back line to pick up and scuttle over the line. Almost immediately Esher were back on level terms. However, with 10 minutes on the clock the green-and-whites regained the lead with a try by Harry Craig, and ten minutes later his second-row partner Jonathan McKeogh added to the list of no fewer than 35 try scorers for the team this season, using his strength to barge his way over.
Ealing’s forward dominance was reflected in further first-half tries by prop Patrizio Bancher and flanker Mike Whitney, his first after returning from knee surgery.
Five unconverted tries playing against the breeze in the first half, with the try bonus already secured, suggested a comfortable victory was assured, but Ealing were in no mood to show mercy and proceeded to add another 46 points in an increasingly loose and one-sided second half. First Sean Kerr, filling in at full-back in the absence of Steve Verma, created an overlap on the right wing to benefit from quick scrum ball. The next score went to the visitors with a long-range effort finished on the left wing, but within a minute Ealing captain and No 8 Adam Hulmston added to his tally for the season. Soon afterwards Esher were reduced to 13 men with a yellow card for preventing release, and conceded another try when panic overcame their line in trying to deal with an awkwardly bouncing kick deep in defence and McKeogh was first to collect and touch down. Scrum-half Will Isaac, the fourth kicker to attempt a conversion, was successful, leaving the score at 44-10 with a quarter of the game to go.
The perpetually busy Atik scored his second try of the afternoon, driven over the line by the forwards, and the half-century was passed soon afterwards when Kerr side-stepped his way past the defence. Esher managed a third try to put themselves in reach of a bonus point for scoring four, but replacement Ealing second-row John Worthington, on his long-awaited return from injury, was up in support to finish out on the right for a try well converted by Isaac, and Hulmston became one of four double-try scorers for the day from a rolling maul, Isaac again adding the extras. With Esher down to 13 men for the second time, this time for over-exuberant celebration of a disallowed try, Craig ran out of defence and kicked ahead and Ealing regained possession for centre Alex Hazell to round off proceedings.
A sterner challenge awaits in the final game of the season, away to Ruislip in the final of the North-West Middlesex Cup on Friday 24 April, kick-off 7.30 pm. Support, as always, is welcome. If the final at the same venue and against the same opposition two years ago is anything to go, it should be a cracker.
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