Clinical finishing from turnover ball proved the difference as reigning Zoo Shield Division 2 champions Richmond Saxons accumulated six converted tries, despite having less of the possession and territory than Ealing and being dominated in the set pieces.
The home side, the Richmond third string, who would have promoted to Zoo Shield Division 1 but for the fact that the equally successful Richmond 2nd XV were already in that league, were well drilled and had several individual players capable of turning the game. After an evenly contested opening period, the pattern was set for the game when a Mond centre burst through two attempted tackles and accelerated away from the half-way line to finish under the posts.
Despite this setback, Ealing were showing a marked improvement on their performance away to Shelford, with solid scrummaging and plentiful line-out possession, notably from Felix Leonard-Fox. With a quarter of the game gone the same player was somewhat harshly yellow-carded for not retreating the full 10 metres at a penalty close to the Ealing line. Richmond opted for a scrum, but impressive work by the Ealing pack produced a strike against the head and the danger was averted. The visiting pack again defended stoutly at a line-out close to the try line follow a penalty kick to touch, and this time forced the Richmond forwards into conceding a penalty.
A series of further penalties, which could have led to a yellow card, pinned Richmond inside their own half, but the Mond tight-head prop burst clear and fed the back line, with the fly half finishing off to make the score 14-0. In a hard physical encounter, Ealing lost captain John Worthington to an arm injury but continued to play well. At a disrupted Richmond scrum on the stroke of half-time, at which they came close to ceding possession, the ball was scrambled away, and the impressive fly half accelerated away before passing back to the scrum half to finish, again under the posts.
Ealing continued to test Richmond as the second half got under way, with good work by replacements Mike Whitney in the back row and Stuart Miller at inside centre. However, Richmond notched their bonus-point fourth try from another powerful burst in the centre, before the visitors finally put points on the board through a push-over try scored by No 8 Marcus Lowe. Two further tries against the run of play and a final deficit of 37 points left Ealing ruing their inability to turn possession into points against strong opposition.
An encouraging performance in a tough league sets the stage for the first league home game of the season, against another strong side, Hertford 2nds, this Saturday (3 October).
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