By Ashley Jay-Tinkler
Four quickfire scores after half-time proved to be the real turning point as Coventry Rugby slipped to a 19-55 defeat against an Ealing Trailfinders outfit which entrenched their place at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship table.
However the power and dominance shown in the second half by the Londoners overshadowed what had been Coventry’s best 40 minutes of the season so far, and indeed up there with the best halves since promotion into the Greene King IPA Championship.
Ealing had the best possible start, second row Bobby De Wee charging down a Pete White box kick, which he then gathered and took deep into Coventry’s 22. The ball was quickly shipped and Ealing made use of the overlap with captain Rayn Smid crossing in the first minute. Craig Willis adding the extras to give the Trailfinders a 0-7 lead.
Nevertheless the rest of the opening 40 belonged to Cov, who began to enjoy some possession in the opposition half, edging forward through phase-play from the forwards before Tony Fenner unleashed his backline. The ball found its way to winger Rob Stevenson, who exploited his Sevens experience to score using his quick footwork and spectacular finishing, taking the acrobatic approach when dotting down in the corner.
From the restart the home side managed to maintain this pressure, Ealing leaking a penalty from a breakdown infringement and another by collapsing the resulting maul. With Coventry now on the Ealing five-metre line, Hooker Nic Dolly threw a dart to his target and then broke off the maul to make it three tries in as many matches. This time Fenner managed to add the extras from out wide giving Coventry a 12-7 lead after a high tempo opening 10 minutes.
The remainder of the half proved to be a stalemate as Coventry failed to take advantage of the extra man after de Wee was sent to the cooler for a dangerous tackle on Dolly. Both teams continued to trade possession and the first half looked as if it would see no more scoring. That was until a late penalty and kick to the corner for Ealing put them within five metres and eventually replacement prop Will Davis went over with the last play of the half. Willis hit the upright with the extras and the teams headed in all square at the break.
Ealing began the second half as quickly as they’d started the first, but this time around were able to keep hold of momentum, playing at a ruthless pace and scoring four tries within quick succession.
Smid scoried his second of the game after breaking through a tackle and showing good speed to go over under the posts. From the restart, a turnover after isolating Louis James gifted the visitors good field possession. Some good offloading following the lineout saw centre Fraser Strachan cross the try line for Ealing’s second of the half. Flanker Simon Uzokwe then scored a brace, really putting Ealing in the driving seat as the scoreboard read 12-38 to the visitors.
Coventry then started to get back into the game as a string of Ealing infringements saw Louis Brown regularly kicking into the opposition 22, but a misfiring lineout meant most of these chances result to nothing.
After Ealing knocked on at one of these lineouts and a few quick tap penalties from Ryan Burrows at the base of the scrum (one of which was held up) pressured the visitors’ defensive line, Coventry eventually broke through with Cameron Jordan going over from close range, Fenner adding the extras to make it 19-38.
This did little to loosen Ealing’s grip on the game. A foot in touch from the restart giving the ball back to the Trailfinders and after a good driving maul made further yardage, after recycling the ball prop Davis went over for Ealing’s seventh of the game. Two minutes later a long-range penalty from replacement fly half Steven Shingler and another score via James Cordy Redden meant Ealing ended proceedings 19-55 to the good.
After a tight first half ended with the score at a deadlock, Coventry would have fancied their chances. Instead Ealing stepped up a gear and showed exactly why most view them as one of the favourites for promotion. Some relentless play saw the final score flatter the visitors and isn’t reflective of Coventry’s excellent first half display.
15 Louis Brown; 14 Rob Stevenson, 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Will Owen, 11 Louis James; 10 Tony Fenner, 9 Pete White; 1 Toby Trinder, 2 Nic Dolly, 3 Phil Boulton, 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Cameron Jordan, 6 Sam Lewis, 7 Ben Nutley, 8 Ryan Burrows (capt)
16 Suva Ma’asi, 17 Luc Jeannot, 18 Alex Gibson, 19 Adam Peters, 20 Senitiki Nayalo, 21 Joe Snow, 22 Kieran Wilkinson, 23 Rob Knox
Tries – Rob Stevenson, Nic Dolly, Cameron Jordan. Cons – Tony Fenner (2)
15 Luke Daniels; 14 Angus Kernohan, 13 David Johnston, 12 Fraser Strachan, 11 James Cordy Redden; 10 Craig Willis, 9 Craig Hampson; 1 Kyle Whyte, 2 Alun Walker, 3 Johannes Jonker, 4 Bobby de Wee, 5 James Cannon, 6 Kieran Murphy, 7 Simon Uzokwe, 8 Rayn Smid (c)
16 Shaun Malton, 17 Will Davis, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Ben West, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Matt Gordon
Tries – Rayn Smid (2), Will Davis (2), Fraser Strachan, Simon Uzokwe (2), James Cordy Reddan. Cons – Craig Willis (4), Steven Shingler (2). Pen – Steven Shingler
Bobby de Wee
REFEREE Alex Thomas