Trailfinders triumph in top four tussle.

Doncaster Knights 21-29 Ealing Trailfinders.

The Knights grasp on third place is a little looser after Ealing Trailfinders triumphed in the dying moments of today’s game at Castle Park.

The Knights narrowly lost out in this battle for top four positioning despite a superb second half showing where they almost completed a remarkable comeback. With five minutes to go Aaron Carpenter touched down to nudge the Knights into a 21-19 advantage but it was not enough as the Trailfinders finished with a ten-point flurry.

The game started in disastrous fashion for the home side who lost Mat Clark to a suspected broken leg after just four minutes; two controversial yellow cards followed in what was a rather unfortunate afternoon at Castle Park.

Donny looked unsettled following Clark’s departure and after weathering the initial Ealing barrage they gave away a cheap penalty in front of the posts to give the visitors the lead, 3-0.

Doncaster hit straight back after some fantastic work at the breakdown by Jack Ram, some excellent carries followed, most notably by Jarad Williams, put the Knights in field position where they were awarded a penalty after a blatant offside. Dougie Flockhart converted; 3-3

Ealing continued their pressure which was causing problems for the Knights but the home side were showing their play-off pedigree with some outstanding defending denying the Trailfinders on the line time and time again.

Unable to get on the front foot the Knights bad luck continued, Sean Scanlon was deemed to have unlawfully tackled James Cordy-Redden in the air, despite appearing to have been pushed into the airborne winger and was shown the first yellow card of the day.

Despite the man advantage Ealing struggled to break Doncaster down, as they did for much of the game, as they met a wall of committed challenges. Penberthy managed two further penalties with Scanlon in the bin but had it not been for such defensive resilience it could have been much worse for the Knights.  

The second half began much like the first finished, with the Knights under immediate pressure and for the first time in the game Ealing almost had something to show for it. The visitors were unable to break the Knights defence down with pick and go carries but had created an abundance of space out wide, Penberthy’s kick was unable to find it’s intended target and the Knights were let off the hook.

Ealing did, however, put another three points on the board after a Lloyd Hayes challenge was deemed too high, the centre was sent to the bin for ten minutes for the tackle; 3-12

With Castle Park fans still infuriated with the referee’s decision a Michael Heaney try managed to go completely under the radar, the scrum-half scooped up the loose restart and went through unchallenged to put the Knights back within reach. Flockhart’s conversion unfortunately hit the post, 8-12.

The Knights will certainly be frustrated with the ten minutes that followed Heaney’s try, first off was a blatant high tackle on Richard List which went completely unpunished and then a moment of complete confusion for the Knights.

The ball was secured at the back of a Knights ruck possession was inexplicably passed straight into the hands of Ealing number eight Mark Bright who in turn fed Barney Maddison for an unchallenged run to the line to extend the visitors lead. 8-19

If this mistake didn't fire up the Knights then nothing would, fortunately their response was immediate. An excellent interchange down the touchline between Tyson Lewis, Flockhart and Hayes saw the Knights turn defence to attack in a heartbeat. The Knights continued to play through the phases and earned a penalty which Flockhart converted, 11-19.

Donny looked in the mood for it following the penalty. Paul Jarvis especially was a man on a mission, the full-back marched Doncaster down the field. The Castle Park fans felt a degree of vindication on 65 minutes as Ealing saw Matt Cornish sent to the sin bin, Flockhart converted the penalty and put the Knights just one try off the mark. 14-19

The momentum was firmly with the home side now, from the restart the Knights were in control penning Ealing deep in their half. The ball was won back and with the crowd urging Donny forward the home side got the breakthrough, Williams carried from the back of the scrum to be stopped short but on the very next phase debutant Carpenter powered his way over the line to put the Knights level, Flockhart’s conversion was good and the Knights took the lead for the first time. 21-19

Unfortunate, with the crowd still celebrating, Ealing capitalised. Centre Joe Munro ran a fantastic line off a scrum and went straight through the Knights defence and under the posts breaking home fans hearts. 21-26.

To add insult to injury Ealing didn’t stop there, good work post penalty established prime field position for a drop goal and Penberthy obliged to rob the Knights a losing bonus point; the least they deserved.

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Lloyd Hayes, 12) Mat Clark (Sean Scanlon 5’), 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney (Sam Edgerley 76’), 1) Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 63’), 2) Ben Hunter (Harry Allen 67’), 3, WillGriff John (Colin Quigley 32’), 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Dave Nolan (Aaron Carpenter 58’),6) Jack Ram, 7) Michael Hills (C), 8) Jarad Williams.

Replacements; 16) Jack Bergmanas, 17) Harry Allen, 18) Colin Quigley, 19) Latu Makaafi, 20) Aaron Carpenter, 21) Sam Edgerley, 22, Sean Scanlon.

Tries; Heaney 49’, Carpenter 72’

Conv; Flockhart 72’

Pens; Flockhart16’, 63’, 66’

Ealing Trailfinders XV; 15 Luke Daniels, 14 Miles Mantella (Will Harries 78’), 13 Lewis Jones, 12 Joe Munro, 11 James Cordy Redden, 10 Aaron Penberthy, 9 Luke Carter (Alex Walker 55’), 1 Will Davis (Ignacio Lancuba 48’), 2 Alun Walker (Matt Cornish 64’), 3 Lewis Thiede (Sam Rodman 64’), 4 Llewelyn Jones, 5 Barney Maddison (Adam Preocanin 68’), 6 Chris York, 7 Rayn Smid (Willie Ryan 68’), 8 Mark Bright (c)

Replacements; 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Ignacio Lancuba, 18 Sam Rodman, 19 Adam Preocanin, 20 Willie Ryan, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Will Harries.

Tries; Maddison 58’, Munro 78’

Conv; Penberthy 58’, 78’

Pens; Penberthy9’, 21’, 30’, 33’  

Drop Goal; Penberthy 79’

Attendance; 1,452.

Written by Connor Hickinbottom

Trailfinders triumph in top four tussle.

League Table

TeamPoints
1 London Irish 39
2 Ealing Trailfinders 35
3 Jersey Reds 32
4 Nottingham 30
5 Bedford Blues 30
6 Cornish Pirates 30
7 Coventry 21
8 London Scottish 18
9 Doncaster Knights 17
10 Richmond 16
11 Hartpury College 11
12 Yorkshire Carnegie 7