Ealing Trailfinders 15-19 Rosslyn Park
A touch of bitter and a lot of sweet greeted Ealing Trailfinders at Saturday’s final whistle against their nearest rivals.
The west Londoners returned to the Greene King IPA Championship at the first bounce - even if they did lose their unbeaten home record.
A season’s best 2,278 turned up at Vallis Way to see Trailfinders take an all important losing bonus point and deny Park a fifth digit that would have extended the battle to the last week.
As it was, bubbly burst all over a losing but excited squad. Surely, one of the few times a defeat has been celebrated with such joy as captain Tom Brown lifted the National One trophy.
Park were hell-bent on ruining the day when former Trailfinders flanker Sam Shires hit Brown like a runaway truck seconds into the game. It set the early tone and soon after Brown teamed up with Arthur Ellis to stop a pick up from Park captain Hugo Ellis.
Rosslyn fly-half Scott Sneddon opened the scoring when he notched a fourth-minute penalty, and added a second six minutes later.
The visitors added to their lead soon after though when Sneddon knocked over his third penalty.
Ealing responded immediately when Luke Daniels picked up a loose ball and sped past three defenders to score in the corner. A flowing move from a Will Harries counter-attack looked to have put Phil Chesters in, but at the last he knocked on.
Sneddon was back on the scoresheet in the 33rd minute with another penalty, and Park piled on the pressure when prop Alex Mackenzie dived over in the corner for a converted try.
The half-time whistle could not have come sooner.
Trailfinders regrouped at the break, and all the better when Daniels knocked over an early penalty. He then converted an Arthur Ellis try after the flanker burrowed over from close range.
At the end, both sides celebrated. Park had won, but Trailfinders yo-yo’d back to the league they left just 12 months previously.
Tries (Daniels 25, Ellis 63), Conversions (Daniels 64), Penalties (Daniels 49)
Tries (Mackenzie 39), Conversions (Sneddon 40), Penalties (Sneddon 4, 9, 24, 33)
referee – Fergus Kirby
STORM Watches Man of the Match – Tom Brown
Pics: Dave Jackson