Ealing Trailfinders boss Mike Cudmore admitted it was one of the strangest feelings he had every experienced – seeing his players coming off the pitch in buoyant mood after an 82-28 battering.
In normal circumstances, such a scoreline would be harrowing, but instead there was mainly satisfaction from the Green Army that they had posted four tries to claim an unlikely bonus point.
The crucial fourth from Tom Parker arrived in the final play of a breathless match that produced 16 tries – 12 of them to the hosts, who lead the Championship.
It leaves Ealing still trailing Jersey by eight points with three to play, but it has kept them in with a shout of beating the drop and there was no mistaking the mood at the end. It was one of upbeat defiance rather than despondency.
“It was the weirdest feeling coming off the pitch at the end seeing players celebrating after the fourth try,” said the director of rugby. “But the important thing is it shows the players still believe they are in with a chance of staying up.
“It was always going to be a tall order getting anything out of the game, against such a good team like that, but we said before the start that if we kept working and kept believing, we might cause them problems and score tries.”
The four second-half touchdowns were all the more remarkable given that Ealing were down to 13 men for a long spell after having Steve Neville and full-back Andrew Henderson sin-binned in quick succession.
“Playing with 13 against an exceptional back line of Premiership quality was asking too much,” Cudmore said.
“They had a dominant scrum and we were feeding off scraps, but we somehow still managed to get forward and cross the line four times.
"It gives us something to focus on ahead of our next game against Nottingham.”