Ealing Trailfinders 7 – 21 Bristol
Championship title contenders Bristol were pushed all the way by a battling Ealing Trailfinders side who will be disappointed not to have at least secured a losing bonus point from a game in which they took an early lead.
Bristol piled on the pressure from the off, resulting in the award of two penalties from kickable distances. They opted to go for the try both times, but were left ruing that decision when Tom Bedford intercepted a pass from well inside the Ealing twenty-two and ran the length of the pitch to score under the posts. That was his second of the season and was converted by Ben Ward for the perfect start.
Ealing’s fortune didn’t last long though. Repeated infringements in defence saw captain Adam Preocanin yellow carded and the visitors made their numerical advantage count in a ruthless ten-minute period.
Bristol kicked the penalty to touch and their drive from the resulting line-out was just edged over the try-line by Nick Koster. Shortly after they were awarded a penalty try as the Ealing pack struggled to cope without the powerful Preocanin. Nick Robinson converted both to put the visitors firmly back in the driving seat.
Bristol continued to batter away at the Ealing defence, using their forwards to great effect, and they eventually notched their third try when Rhys Lawrence bundled over in the corner. The difficult conversion was again secured by Robinson, despite the driving wind and rain.
Ealing almost narrowed the gap as the half came to a close, but they were held up on the line after sustained pressure in the Bristol twenty-two.
The home side competed well, in what proved to be a scoreless second half, as Bristol sought to secure a bonus point win, and they had chances to secure a bonus point of their own. They were ultimately thwarted though by a solid Bristol defence and the tricky conditions, as handling became an issue for both sides.
EALING: Andrew Henderson, Chris Kinloch, Ronnie McLean, Tom Bedford, Phil Chesters, Ben Ward, Morgan Thompson; Steve Neville, Sam Wilkes, Conor Carey, Steve Pape, Adam Preocanin (Captain), Matt Evans, Ed Siggery, Sean O’Connell
Reserves: Andrei Radoi, Darryl Marfo, Tim Brockett, Gavin Curry, Sam Hocking, Tom Parker, Tom Wheatcroft