Ealing Trailfinders 17-31 Cornish Pirates
Ealing Trailfinders suffered their third defeat in a row – but drew massive encouragement from their most competitive performance so far.
After taking a 79-9 battering at Rotherham Titans last week, the Green & Whites were desperate to put on a better show in front of their own fans in their first ever fixture in the Championship at Vallis Way.
And although they were outscored 5-2 in tries, the sight of them with ball in hand towards the end and playing adventurous, running rugby raised spirits.
By the end, boss Mike Cudmore was lamenting his side's failure to collect the losing bonus point he felt they deserved, which is some measure of progress.
The Pirates drew first blood through Kieran Goss after 10 minutes, but after Darren Barry had been sin-binned for a deliberate offside to reduce the visitors to 14 men, Trailfinders took a 7-5 lead with Ed Siggery scoring a pushover try and Tom Wheatcroft converting.
The visitors hit back immediately when Ealing were guilty of a knock-on and Goss capitalised for his second try of the game, Keiran Hallett converting for a 12-7 lead at the break.
A Wheatcroft penalty reduced the gap to two points at the start of the second half, suggesting a bit of glory might be in the offing.
But it was not to be. The Pirates upped a gear and grabbed three tries through Jack Andrew, Aaron Carpenter and Thomas Kessell to effectively close the door on the home sides ambitions.
Yet the response in the final 10 minutes was good, with Tom Parker dancing his way down the left flank to the try-line and there were more moments when Ealing threatened to bag another seven points for a consolation points.
Even without quite managing it, the mood was unmistakably hopeful as the players trooped off at the end.