Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club (ETRFC) returned back to the summit of National League One with a clinical 5-41 victory over Loughborough Students.
The Students came into the game on the back of a purple patch but there was no sign of that good form continuing as the visitors dominated proceedings in atrocious weather conditions.
ETRFC were quick in adapting to the conditions and their purposefulness early on ensured they raced into a 22-0 lead within the first half hour.
It was Tom Wheatcroft who opened the scoring for the visitors with a well-struck penalty before Rory Damant was on hand to capitalise on a well-waited grubber kick by Peter Hodgkinson to score ETRFC’s first try of the afternoon.
The Students’ inability to control possession enabled the visiting side to impose their physical and ruthless dominance on the game.
A quick-tap by Sam Shires from a scrum infringement allowed Hodgkinson to expose the Students’ midfield and put the in-form Sam Wardingley into space for the winger to sprint in and score.
With their forwards rumbling on and Hodgkinson’s tactical kicking constantly putting his side into the Students’ half, ETRFC were in complete control. After an incredible bout of inter-linking phase-play between backs and forwards, Shires ran a great line to crash over and score. Wheatcroft made no mistake with the conversion, leaving the home side trailing 0-22.
Just before the break, the Students did capitalise on a rare defensive mistake from the visitors as full-back Craig Holland raced 40 metres to score what would turn out to be the Students’ only points on a torrid afternoon.
ETRFC came out in the second half with no intentions of letting their lead slip, with Sam Shires scoring the all-important bonus point try at the start of the second period. ETRFC continued to ruthlessly bombard the Students’ line with wave after wave of meaningful attacks. Eventually, the continued pressure told as Wheatcroft scored and converted his own try to take the visiting side to an unassailable 5-34 lead with just minutes remaining.
With ETRFC demonstrating their superior fitness levels, there was still time for one last try as Peter Hodgkinson’s perfectly guided kick was caught on the run by Sam Wardingley, who raced to the line to complete the rout.
ETRFC are now four points clear of second-placed Rosslyn Park at the top of National League One and will be hoping to build on their push for promotion away at Cinderford in a fortnight’s time.