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Home > News > Ealing 8 - Rosslyn Park 9
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In a dramatic end to a full-blooded battle in the Ealing mud, Ben Ward’s attempt to convert Phil Chesters’ last gasp try for Ealing passed outside the far post and Rosslyn Park’s players leapt for joy. They could claim a victory that they deserved for their efforts over the whole 80 minutes. But their last ditch attempt to hand the match to their opponents, after a supremely disciplined 80 minutes, certainly raised the blood pressure among their army of travelling supporters.

The match nearly didn’t take place at all. After the pitch had passed a 9:00AM inspection there was an hour’s heavy rain, leaving it up to the captains whether or not to go ahead. Park were keen to play, Ealing less so. The referee sensibly suggested that, as he had reffed both sides in pretty desperate conditions in the past, the match should go ahead but that he would stop it if he felt conditions were getting dangerous. Underfoot conditions were indeed pretty awful, but players of a previous generation – where slopping through a mud bath was an essential part of the game – would have scoffed that there should have been any doubt.

Park underlined their wish to play, taking the match by the scruff of the neck from kick off and being rewarded with a third minute penalty, stroked over by Ross Laidlaw for 3-0. When both defences were not engaged in playing aerial ping pong at each other, Park were having slightly more possession and territory in what was essentially a midfield war of attrition. However, Ealing showed how dangerous they could be when awarded a penalty 10 metres into the Park half and Ward made the equaliser look easy.

The visitors were beginning to play some – in the conditions – good rugby, putting together some good attacks, notably when a run from full-back Richard Davies nearly went over. Ealing’s defence was top notch but they were forced to concede a penalty in the 23rd minute which allowed Laidlaw to increase the lead to 6-3.

Ealing had their best attack up the right wing,but the defence was equal to it. Park mounted a great attack through the middle but knocked on. A super kick from Laidlaw put Park firmly back in the 22, but Ealing countered, forcing the Park defence to play some smart rugby behind their own posts. Ealing then had their only period of real concerted pressure, driving at the visitors just before the interval, and Nick Huggett rashly allowed himself to be provoked into throwing a punch and was yellow carded. Park held out until the interval.

Starting the second half a man short, Park really took the game to Ealing. A good run from James Strong saw him stopped just short of the line. The visitors applied solid pressure through several surges but Ealing’s last ditch defence was superb. No sooner had they weathered that attack than Ollie Lyndsey-Hague nearly got over, and another siege was set up. Park could not get over, but they had dominated play and conceded nothing for the entire period of the sin bin.

Park continued to have a slight edge, but mistakes were inevitable in the conditions and they could not quite piece together a move to pierce the home defence. As the match entered its last quarter Ealing perceptibly came more into the match, though not enough to trouble a strong visiting defence. It was still a combination of midfield slog and long kicks, but the home side now possibly had more possession. However, it was they who made the crucial error when Park followed-up and Ealing were penalised for “crossing” on their 22 in front of the posts after 37 minutes. Laidlaw snapped up the 3 points for 9-3.

Ealing tried desperately to salvage something, but the visiting defence were more than equal to it, and Richard Davies put in a tremendous clearance kick almost to the home line. When Park then won possession for the last play of the match all they had to do was to stick it up their proverbial jumpers to claim a deserved and hard-earned victory. But in one of those moments of sheer madness that drives Coaches insane they chose to make the ball available. Unfortunately the player it became available to was the League’s top try-scorer, Ealing winger Phil Chesters, who hacked and dribbled the ball to the Park line and triumphantly dived on it.

Had the kick gone over it would have been daylight robbery, except that it is pretty well impossible in law to mug yourself!

Park: Davies (O’Driscoll, blood); Strong, Sweeney, Jewell, Lyndsey-Hague; Laidlaw; Chilten (Barr); Huggett, Tauialo, Collier; Pape, Quigley; Gates (Daw, safety), Barrett (M Jones), Lock.

Sub (Did not play): A Jones.

Park scorer: Laidlaw (3P)

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