Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club (ETRFC) maintained their lead at the top of National League One with a hard-fought 10-11 victory against Cinderford at Dockham Road.
With tarnished memories of the shocking start ETRFC made at Cinderford last season at the forefront of the players’ minds, ETRFC started the game the more positive of the two teams.
Despite the visitors demonstrating great pace and physicality to their play, it was the home side who made the break through. An audacious kick up-field was poorly dealt with by ETRFC’s last line of defence, allowing Cinderford winger Lloyd Stapleton to gather and score. The conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the hosts 5-0 ahead.
The visitors bounced straight back as the ETRFC pack showed their impressive power in dismantling a Cinderford scrum on the edge of the host’s 22m line. When the referee had no alternative but to award the penalty, Thomas Wheatcroft coolly converted to narrow the deficit to 5-3.
It was clear that the game was going to be a low-scoring contest, with both defensive lines demonstrating impressive organization and steely determination in order to hold out the opposition. Despite the guests’ best attempts, the Cinderford defence was unyielding, ensuring ETRFC would go into the break without a try on the board.
ETRFC started the second half with great purpose and were soon rewarded for their enthusiasm and dominance. Six minutes into the second half and a flurry of quick passes just short of the Cinderford line allowed Sam Shires to cross for the guests. ETRFC could not capitalize fully as the conversion was missed, leaving the score at 5-8.
It seemed as though the guests were going to rue the missed conversion as just three minutes later, Cinderford hit back with a try of their own, reclaiming their lead in the process. The home side couldn’t make the most of the conversion and took a 10-8 lead into the final half hour.
With the game reaching the final quarter, the visitors were awarded their second penalty of the afternoon, with Wheatcroft making no mistakes with the kick.
ETRFC pushed on in the final twenty minutes in an attempt to extend their lead but struggled to break down the Cinderford defence. Nevertheless, the visitors held out for a crucial 10-11 victory and are now odds-on to be top of the league going into the New Year.
Director and general manager at ETRFC, Mike Cudmore, was delighted with the result, saying: "Going to Cinderford and getting a result is always a challenge. We were very happy with the four point win and our want and work rate all game was of a high level."