London Welsh 2nd XV 20 – 17 Ealing 1871 2nds

A hard-fought battle with old rivals London Welsh ended in agonisingly narrow defeat for the Ealing 1871 2nds in Middlesex Merit Table Division 1.

Fielding a makeshift front row due to late unavailabilities, Ealing battled hard all afternoon and great credit is due to Kieran Woolford, Evan Poole and Fabio Krasniqi for digging in against a powerful and heavy Welsh pack. The league leaders took an early lead with a well-worked move from a penalty but the visitors bounced back within a few minutes with full back Lewis Steadman finishing off with aplomb after slick handling along the back line from a penalty lineout. Scrum half Dan Thomas added the extras. A period of Welsh dominance followed with a number of penalties awarded, but strong tackling held the home side at bay, and slightly against the run of play it was Ealing who extended their lead with an outstanding run down the touchline by recent recruit Manuel Viviani, who subsequently had to leave the field with a bang on the nose. Attacks by both sides were repelled with shuddering tackles to leave the half-time score at 10-7 to Ealing.

The second half proved equally competitive, but Welsh moved into the lead 7 minutes after the break with an unconverted try when an overlap was worked from a penalty, and extended their advantage to 17-10 with a quarter of the game to go.  Steadman replaced Calum Jones at fly half, with Matthew Lacour moving from wing to full back, and 5 minutes after the Welsh had scored replacement centre Stan Duhamel, who had overslept and consequently been unable to join the Under 23s for their trip to Guernsey in the Zoo Shield, intercepted and burst upfield, slipping on the mud but managing to release man-of-the-match Steadman, who outpaced the defence to score under the posts. With the score tied at 17-17 a dramatic conclusion saw Welsh convert a penalty before Ealing, in an almost identical position, opted to take a scrum rather than a kick at goal. The Welsh held out under heavy pressure to finish a pulsating encounter of high-quality rugby three points to the good.