EALING Trailfinders had to dredge up reserves of bloody-mindedness, but they emerged with a dramatic victory to stay on course for promotion to the second tier of English rugby.
The table-toppers were behind for most of the match and needed a late try from scrum half Tom Parker to edge home, but Old Albanians gave them a torrid afternoon at Woollams Park and came close to repeating a win they achieved against the National One leaders earlier in the season.
The Vallis Way club were far from at their best, frittering away too much possession and missing tackles during the first half in particular and were punished for a suicidal attempt to play their way out of their own 22 rather than kick for safety.
That gifted the home side's second try for their star player, Ollie Marchon, an England sevens player with lightning speed, who made the most of an interception.
In the second half, the Albanians winger denied Phil Chesters in a race to the line to reach a ball kicked ahead, and later showed his searing pace to blaze down the right flank in another kick and chase for another try, which put Albanians 29-27 ahead going into the final quarter.
Ealing's ability to fashion tries when they are on the back foot stood them in good stead as they bagged six in all for another precious bonus point – three in the first half, to ensure they turned around only 17-15 down at the interval.
Owen Bruynseels scored in the corner after a converted Matt Chambers try had put the Herts side in front, then came Marchon's try, with full-back Richard Gregg again converting.
Parker scored the first of his two tries for the afternoon after peeling away from a 5m scrum and scoring down the left, which again left kicker Tom Wheatcroft with too much of an angle for a successful conversion.
Tim Brockett's five-pointer after a cross-field kick from skipper Ben Ward nudged Ealing in front for the first time in the match, but the advantage was short-lived, as Gregg buried a penalty for Old As just before the interval and Stefan Liebenberg crossed the line from a tap penalty at the start of the second half.
Phil Chesters burst through two tackles to bring it back to 24-22 following Wheatcroft's first successful conversion at the fourth time of asking, and when Bruynseels claimed his second try, it looked like Ealing might finally assert themselves.
Not a bit of it. A few minutes later, Marchon had put the home side ahead again and Ealing had to defend for their lives during a demanding 15-minute spell which threatened to end their 11-game unbeaten run.
But with five minutes to go, Parker profited from some quick handling and sharp recycling from the backs down the right – Bruynseels providing the final decisive pass.
Ward missed the conversion, having taked over the kicking from Wheatcroft after the centre picked up a knock, but Ealing had somehow found a way to edge a game they struggled to control.
The win maintains their 13-point lead over closest challengers Blaydon, at the top of the table, and they have a game in hand too. With seven to go, Trailfinders are closing in on their holy grail.