Ealing Trailfinders 27-14 Doncaster Knights.
The Knights headed to West-London looking to make it four wins on the spin in the Championship against an Ealing Trailfinders side who had endured a tricky start to the new campaign.
In 2015/16 the two sides played out a 17-17 draw on the artificial surface with the hosts unlucky not to have bagged the win so there was no danger of the Knights entering the fixture complacent. History has a funny way of repeating itself and if the Knights were not at their best at Vallis Way last season then they were miles off this time around.
A disorderly display saw the Knights continually fall foul of referee Fergus Kirby’s whistle and give up two sloppy second half tries from avoidable errors.
The game started in a lively fashion with the Knights looking sharp at the set piece and making the best of the early phases. Having made their way into the Ealing 22m on the back of a scrum penalty indiscipline allowed the hosts into the game. Three back to back penalties piggy backed the Trailinfinders to within five metres of the try line and only some dogged defending prevented a score.
After twenty minutes the Knights had managed to give away five penalties and two free kicks. When they were able to spin spells of possession together Doncaster looked threatening but constantly gave up attacking positions and easy yards through penalties. At the back of a solid scrum in the Knights 22m centre Joe Munro hit a nice line to burst through some poor tackling and cross under the sticks for the game’s opening score. Aaron Penberthy added the extras, 7-0.
The pressure from the hosts continued following the score and again the platform was built from a penalty against the Knights. Good defence in the 22m prevented a further score but the signs were not encouraging.
The Knights needed a spark and thankfully, on their first real attack, got it. Tyson Lewis broke the line following a midfield lineout as he has done so successfully in recent weeks and burst through the home defence. The winger carried deep and almost looked as if he’d missed the opportunity to offload to his support but the winger found Mat Clark just inside the 22m who put his foot down to cross in the corner. Dougie Flockhart added the extras with a pin point conversion from the touchline; all square.
Trailfinders spent the final moments of the half camped in Donny territory as the Knights conspired to give away further penalties. However, good work at the scrum and lineout got them out of trouble a couple of times and the half ended with a Knights scrum penalty which Simon Humberstone dutifully kicked to touch.
Following the restart the Knights showed no signs of improving their discipline and gave away two kickable penalties in the opening ten minutes and Penberthy was only too happy to take the points on offer; 13-7.
Dave Nolan had a chance to hit back for the Knights shortly after as he chased down a loose ball at the back of a deep Ealing lineout but the bounce of the ball evaded the second row and possession was spilt forward.
The game was decided just after the hour mark, after Dougie Flockhart had a long range penalty drop just wide of the sticks Ealing twice capitalized on careless Doncaster errors.
Firstly, Paul Jarvis had a kick charged down which was collected by second row Carwen Jones who galloped to within a metre of the Knights line. In the next phase possession was put wide and Aled Jenkins was able to cross in plenty of space; Penberthy on target with the conversion.
Five minutes later disaster struck again.
A deep kick was fielded in the Knights twenty-two and as the pack looked to run it out of danger the ball was stripped. Ealing were able to quickly spin it wide where former Rotherham winger Curtis Wilson crossed. Penberthy’s conversion made the score 27-7 with just over ten minutes to play.
The Knights went after the game in the dying stages and found a bit more energy as the replacements entered the field of play and got some late consolation. Mat Clark and Dec Cusack linked up well to put the latter into a gap and cross the whitewash before quickly converting.
With time almost Donny nearly scraped a losing bonus point as Sean Scanlon went over in the corner but the scrambling Ealing defence were able to hold the full back up and shortly after the game ended.
A tough day at the office for the Knights who will need to show plenty of improvement if they are to maintain their undefeated home record next weekend against Nottingham.
Ealing Trailfinders; 15 Will Harries, 14 James Cordy-Redden, 13 Aled Jenkins,12 Joe Munro, 11 Curtis Wilson, 9 Luke Carter, 10) Aaron Penberthy, 1) Ignacio Lancuba (James Gibbons 47’), 2) Rhys Lawrence (Matthew Cornish 56’), 3) Lewis Thiede, 4) Carwyn Jones, 5) Llewelyn Jones, 6) Willie Ryan, 7) Arthur Ellis, 8) Mark Bright (captain)
Replacements; 16 Matt Cornish, 17 James Gibbons, 18 Alex Penny, 19 Harry Casson, 20 Chris York, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Ben Ward.
Tries; Munro 22’, Jenkins 64’, Wilson 69’
Conv; Penberthy 22’, 64’
Pens; Penberthy 47’, 52’, 69’
Knights; 15. Paul Jarvis, 14. Dougie Flockhart (Sean Scanlon 69’), 13. Mat Clark, 12. Lloyd Hayes, 11. Tyson Lewis, 10. Simon Humberstone (Dec Cusack 69’), 9. Michael Heaney © (Sam Edgerley 69’), 1. Richard List (Robin Hislop 58’), 2. Harry Allen (Richard List 58’), 3. WillGriff John (Joe Sproston 69’), 4. Dave Nolan, 5. Glen Young, 6. Latu Makaafi (Jarad Williams 56’), 7. Beau Robinson, 8. Alex Shaw
Replacements; 16. Robin Hislop 17. Harry Allen 18. Joe Sproston 19. Jarad Williams 20. Sean Scanlon 21. Dec Cusack 22. Sam Edgerley
Tries; Clark 32’, Cusack 76’
Conv; Flockhart 32’,
Pens; Flockhart 32’, Cusack 76’
Referee: Fergus Kirby