A rematch of the 2021/22 Championship Cup Final took place at Butts Park, as league and cup Champions Ealing Trailfinders made the visit from the capital, for the fourth round of the Championship campaign.
Ealing brought with them to the BPA a 100% win ratio, however, Alex Rae’s young squad were looking to demonstrate the same grit and determination that got the job done a week ago against Ampthill.
Coventry kicked off playing towards the train track, and were put to defensive work immediately by the Champions. Cov held out a number of driving maul attempts before a clever line from Ealing skipper, Rayn Smid, tore through the home defence. The ball went sharply through a few pairs of hands before Max Bodilly crossed for the first score of the day. Craig Willis landed the extras to make the score 0-7 after 6 minutes.
Coventry began to put some phases together with ball in hand, much to the enjoyment of the Butts Park faithful – until former Welsh international Jonah Holmes demonstrated his vast experience as he managed to both strip the ball in contact and run nearly 60 metres to the try line. Willis was successful with his conversion once more, as Ealing reached a 14-point lead after as many minutes. (0-14)
The game certainly wasn’t all Ealing, as Cov looked close to scoring, but were just let down by one or two loose handling errors inside the Trailfinders 22. However, on the 25-minute mark, we witnessed an excellently ran first phase Ealing move off a midfield lineout. Jonah Holmes sliced through before finding Reuben Bird-Tulloch who ran home untouched. (0-21)
Despite no lack of heart on show by a young Coventry side, the Ealing pressure was relentless. Multiple phases inside the Cov 22 eventually took its toll as Craig Willis spotted a gap in the Cov defence, before dotting down and converting his own score before the end of the first period. (Half time: 0-28)
Coventry began the second half perhaps the brighter of the two sides, before a loose kick gave Ealing possession in a dangerous position. A siege of powerful carries from the Trailfinders’ pack was followed by some neat handling to find Jonah Holmes in the corner for his second of the afternoon. A first miss of the day for Willis made the score 0-33 with 35 minutes left to play.
50 minutes on the clock, and the BPA was rewarded with the moment of the match thus far (from a Cov perspective). A neatly timed lineout move gave Senitiki Nayalo a one on one just 5 metres out… from which there is often only one winner. Tiki crashed over to score, before Patrick Pellegrini’s conversion strayed just wide of the posts. (5-33)
Unfortunately, Ealing responded like the Champions that they are. They quickly found themselves back in Coventry territory before a virtually unstoppable driving maul finished with the ball on the try line. Willis didn’t manage to add to his tally on this particular conversion attempt. (5-38)
After 10 minutes or so of genuine parity between the two teams, Ealing added to their try scoring total again. The scrum was beginning to look ominous as the Trailfinders began to make yards each time the two sides packed down. After a scrum that looked destined for the try line was brought to an illegal end, replacement scrum half, Jordan Burns, dived over to score for the visitors. (5-43)
After being named the Coventry player of the match, Will Talbot-Davies was then sent to the bin for playing the ball illegally on the floor. Cov showed spirit up until the very end of the contest, however it was Ealing and Carlo Tizzano that had the last laugh in what was the final play of the game as he crept over from short range.
Full time: 5-50
Rae’s squad travels to London Scottish in a week’s time before a well-deserved rest weekend. We sadly have to wait until Saturday 22nd October until we’re back at the Butts again, when we take on Cornish Pirates. We look forward to seeing you all there when ‘The Cornish men will come’…