A mixed season for the Men’s 1sts ended on a high note with one of the best performances of the season in retaining the North West Middlesex Cup with a fourth consecutive final win against perennial rivals Ruislip at Harrow RFC.
Notoriously slow starters in recent Zoo Shield games, Ealing went straight onto the attack on a cold late April evening and were rewarded with the first score, with prop Tim Hitchcock forcing his way over from short range. Ealing continued to dominate proceedings, winning a string of penalties. Back-chat to the referee from one such penalty meant an extra 10 metres, enabling fly half Joe Smith to bag an easy three points. With less than a quarter of the game gone, the men from Vallis Way pounded the Ruislip line again, second row Charles Mansell weaving his way towards the line before being held up just short. A solid 5-metre scrum then enabled No 8 Andrea Costa to pick up and dive over, with Smith adding the extras.
Full back Steve Verma shortly afterwards chipped over the Ruislip defence and just failed to re-gather with the try line beckoning as the referee played advantage for offside. An attacking line-out from the ensuing penalty looked promising, but Ruislip managed to turn the ball over and cleared. As the half-hour mark approached, Ruislip began to enjoy more possession, forcing a succession of penalties, the last of which was taken quickly and produced a try.
Despite conceding points, Ealing were still in the ascendant, enjoying good-quality possession from line-out and scrum. Shortly before the break, Mansell peeled off from a driven line-out and drove over.
Starting the second half 20-7 ahead, Ealing found their opponents posing a much sterner test, and the deficit was reduced to 8 points with a try from another quickly taken penalty. Strong tackling kept Ruislip at bay as they laid siege again, and to the delight of the Ealing supporters defence was turned into attack and left wing Richard Joyce was put into space to score wide out.
Despite going down to 14 men following another succession of penalties, Ealing held firm with some of best tackling seen all season, and when Ruislip finally managed to convert pressure into points there was only a minute left on the clock. The remaining time was successfully run down to seal a fine victory.
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