Ealing 1871 vs Uxbridge, Herts/Middlesex Division 2; 9 November 2019
On a cold, wet West London afternoon at the Trailfinders Sports Ground, Ealing Trailfinders 1871 took on top of the table Uxbridge RFC, who were previously unbeaten, in a game that would see Ealing take top spot should the result go their way.
The home team set to work from the get-go, organised, vocal and ready for what seemed likely to be a forward-dominated game.
Ealing started the game with a high contestable kick, caught expertly by No 8 Kairo Rodrigo-Payne. With scrum half Lucas Braithwaite and fly half Enrico Rolfo bossing the attack, Rolfo slid a kick to apply pressure, with Uxbridge dotting down for a 22 metre drop out.
Uxbridge piled on the pressure and worked their way down the pitch towards Ealing’s try line, but a huge defensive effort from Ealing led to multiple mistakes from Uxbridge, with the away team eventually conceding a scrum for a knock-on.
A slightly rushed clearance kick failed to find touch, which meant that the Uxbridge full back had a sea of broken play to attack and to make the final pass for a score in the corner. The conversion was made, giving Uxbridge a 7-0 lead.
More sustained pressure from Ealing in defence forced a mistake, with the wet weather really taking its toll on both sides, leaving Ealing with an attacking scrum on the 22 metre line. A strong charge from Rodrigo-Payne off the base of the scrum and some quick hands saw full back Jack Hobbs with a tough task, but with silky hips that would not look out of place on the Strictly dance floor, he dotted down in the right corner. Rolfo converted, leaving the score tied at 7-7.
A catalogue of back and forth mistakes made up the next 20 minutes of rugby, and a change of tactics was required. Ealing started pinning Uxbridge into the corners, piling on the pressure at the lineout, and regularly coming out on top. Another knock-on from Uxbridge at the lineout gave Ealing a further chance to assert their scrum dominance, and they duly obliged. Another bullish charge from Rodrigo-Payne saw him break through desperate tackles to score. Rolfo converted again, leaving the score at 14–7 to the home side going into halftime.
The second half started just as the first had ended, with Ealing piling on the pressure, forcing Uxbridge to play out of their own 22 metre area with kicks into the corner, one in particular being chased by big front row man Andrew Barton, who did not quite have the pace to get on the end of his own fly hack but more than made up for it with a huge tackle on the covering player, sending him into the next county. The tackled player knocked on, but unfortunately the gathered ball was lost and the attack fizzled out.
The defensive work rate was a testament to how hard this Ealing side battle. Constant defensive efforts piling on pressure and forcing mistakes led to Hobbs intercepting a poor pass on his own 22 metre line and running the length of the pitch to score under the posts for his second of the match. Rolfo converted once more, making the score 21-7 in Ealing’s favour.
The change of tactics during the first half really paid dividends, with another kick into the corner leading to a defensive lineout on Uxbridge’s own 5 metre line. The throw-in was expertly stolen by 2nd row Matthew Donnelly, and from the subsequent breakdown a slick inside ball from Brathwaite to Rodrigo-Payne saw the No 8 over the line for his second of the day. The conversion was missed, meaning that the score at the final whistle was Ealing 1871 26 Uxbridge 7.
Man of the match:
Forwards: Kairo Rodrigo-Payne
Backs: Enrico Rolfo