Saturday, October 12, 2013

Leinster A-49 Ealing Trailfinders-8

[Update April 23, 2014 - Archive time here at HoR and we go back to October and the start of Leinster A’s bid to retain their British & Irish Cup.  It has been a relatively easy passage for them through to this coming Saturday’s semifinal but you can be sure the trip to Pontypridd will be anything but easy.]

Leinster Ealing

WEEEE-HOOOO!!!!!

I won’t say this match was boring, but let’s just say that about five minutes before halftime it was pretty clear which way the result was going to go, which meant the crowd was somewhat subdued.

So when the visiting Ealing Trailfinders, already 21-3 down on the scoreboard, won themselves a penalty around that time, the sound of their skipper giving the above cheer (imagine Blur’s “Song 2” and you have it) provided the assembled spectators with some lasting amusement.

That moment narrowly beat out Darren Hudson’s earlier attempt to kick a spare ball off the pitch during a break in play being met with a “PING!” as it hit the crossbar and came back to him.

Not that I’m trying to put you off going to one of these British & Irish fixtures, far from it…even if you’re not a season-ticket holder (free admission) it’s well worth the tenner to come along and see the players on the fringes of the full Leinster side mix it up in full competitive action.

It’s just that in the Ealing Trailfinders we didn’t exactly have our match last Saturday.  Even their name isn’t as interesting as I first thought…my assumption was that it was a classically British eccentric club name with a fascinating story behind it like Crewe Alexandra or Corinthian Casuals…in actual fact they are sponsored by a travel agent.

And considering they romped to victory last season in the third tier of English rugby and now can’t buy a win, we can get a pretty good picture of how the talent pool across the country is divided, with only the Premiership and a handful of Championship clubs really able to call themselves serious top-class outfits.

But we could only deal with what was put before us and the lads quickly raced into a 14-0 lead thanks to tries from Tom Farrell and Sam Coughlan-Murray.

Now to be fair to the visitors they did enjoy something of a purple patch in the second quarter but they could do nothing to break down the Leinster defence which was every bit as strong as we have seen at senior level, something good to see being consistent throughout the squad.  Ealing could only manage a single penalty in that period.

Then on 28 minutes after a lineout in the Ealing half a well-executed set move from the backline allowed Coghlan-Murray to break the line before an easy offload to his skipper Conor Gilsenan (who has beefed up this season and even added a headband for a distinctly “Jamie”-esque look) who had the easiest of scores.

The second half began with a yellow shown to Ealing hooker Sam Wilkes…it took us a while to take advantage but as he was ready to come back on Leo Auva’a crashed over for one of his trademark scores in this competition and the bonus point was secured.

From then on it was a question of how many but try number 5 was arguably the pick of the bunch.  Out-half Cathal Marsh was my man-of-the-match…a try and 7 out of 7 from the tee including one from the touchline didn’t hurt but he sealed it when he caught a kick in his own 22 and proceeded to jink his way down to the other end of the pitch before an offload to lock Tadhg Beirne who made a beeline for under the posts.

The other try-scorer was John Cooney who surprisingly enough played more than 70minutes before being replaced by Luke McGrath…I can only assume the Irish Under20s skipper from last season will himself get a start in next weekend’s trip to Moseley.

Finally it was good to see Ross Moloney brought on as a sub towards the end…just last March he was appearing at the RDS for St Michaels in the Leinster Schools Cup final…it just goes to show how good the opportunities are at Leinster if you have the ability.

So a comfortable start to Leinster A’s defence of the trophy and no doubt there will be tougher tests to come.  Clearly if I could have afforded the time and expense I would have rather been in Swansea but even with the one-sided nature of the contest (I say few were disappointed to see Ealing skipper Damon Albarn Thomas Anderson getting a consolation try on 71m) this definitely was the next best thing and I hope to see you down at Donnybrook for the next home match vs Cross Keys in December. JLP

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