London Welsh made it eight wins from eight against Ealing Trailfinders to consolidate their position at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship table.
While the result was never in doubt once the Exiles made the breakthrough, it was to Ealing’s credit that the home side were forced to wait until the 24th minute to cross the whitewash for the first of their four tries – Rob Lewis touching down.
Gordon Ross’s try three minutes later hinted that the floodgates could be about to open, but that proved unfounded against a spirited, disciplined and well organised Ealing side.
Welsh did strike once more before the break, courtesy of a penalty try, with the bonus point score coming mid-way through the second half as Tom May crossed in the corner.
That Welsh didn’t extend their lead further was down to the resilience of their visitors, who refused to fold. However, while it may not have been as comprehensive as many had predicted, for Welsh it was a case of job done and on to Moseley next Saturday.
Just as Welsh’s start had set the tone for victory over Bristol seven days earlier, the same was the case against Ealing, only this time with Welsh unable to do anything right.
Ealing’s Andy Hall had the first chance for points, only for his penalty to slip just wide, while Christopher Kinloch made one darting break, only for a knock on to bring to an end a promising Ealing attack.
While Welsh were struggling to find their game, Ealing were looking composed and were tackling themselves to a standstill – the latter something they would keep up for the full 80 minutes.
The visitors were also showing adventure in attack. Hall, Kinloch and Andrew Henderson combined to release Philip Chesters, as Ealing attacked from deep. Welsh survived however.
Hall was again off target when given a second sight of the Welsh posts, and the Exiles duly made the breakthrough. It came from nothing; Mike Denbee found a hole in the Ealing defensive line and had Nathan Morris in support, with the hooker feeding Lewis to cross.
Ross added the extras and was soon converting his own try after Stegmann left several Ealing defenders in his wake. The winger was hauled down just short of the line, but Ross was on hand to accept the offload and go over.
Ealing, however, had no intention of meekly surrounding to Welsh despite that double set-back. Anything the Exiles were going to get from this game, they were going to have to earn.
Ross pushed a penalty into the corner and Welsh set up camp just metres from the Ealing line. After a succession of scrum penalties the home side finally got their reward when referee Craig Maxwell-Keys wheeled away to award the Exiles a penalty try. Ross’s conversion was the last action of a largely frustrating half for the home side, but one that still saw them go in at the break leading 21-0.
The second half would be a one-sided affair, dominated territorially by the home side. Finding a way through this Ealing defence, however, would be just as difficult.
Stegmann nearly forced his way over after Ian Nimmo’s lineout steal, but Ealing were defending like the very game and their Championship survival rested on denying Welsh a fourth try.
Despite their effortless, try number four would eventually come for the Exiles. After 18 fruitless minutes spent trying to batter a way over the Ealing line, the away side managed to clear down field, only for Welsh to strike from deep.
Denbee suddenly broke clear from a ruck, taking play over half way. Welsh spread the ball quickly and Will Robinson’s exquisite flat pass sent May racing all the way to the corner. Robinson converted.
Twenty-four minutes still remained for Welsh to go in search of more points, but Ealing refused to buckle. Sonny Parker came closest, but was tackled short, after a good break, but Welsh knew they had achieved their primary goal – the win and the bonus point were in the bag.
London Welsh scorers:
Tries: Lewis, Ross, Penalty Try, May; Cons: Ross (3), Robinson.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Referee Assistants: Philip Davies & Brian Ravenhill