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Nottingham Come Up Short Against Ealing

A lively and dramatic game at the Trailfinders Sports Ground saw Ealing give their survival hopes to huge lift as they beat Nottingham 37-35.

With so much at stake for both clubs it was encouraging to see both commit fully to a positive gameplan.

The Nottingham pack generally had the better of things, but it was the Ealing backs who earned the points as they regularly cut through the visitors' defence with some pacey and inventive breaks.

But four tries for the Green and Whites, along with the two-point losing margin, meant they travelled home with two precious bonus points, the gap between them and Ealing reduced to eight points.

The means Nottingham still need two points to preserve their place in the Green King IPA Championship, with just two games now remaining.

It was nail-biting stuff and in another strong finish Nottingham almost snatched the draw that would have guaranteed safety as their fourth try brought them back to within two points, only to see the conversion hit the upright.

A great start saw Joe Munro grab an early try following a break form Tom Calladine, Matt Jarvis making it 0-7 with the conversion.

But the home side hit straight back with a try from winger Phil Chesters as he gathered a cross-field kick. Ben Ward's conversion levelled the scores.

Two Jarvis penalties gave the Green and Whites a six point lead but Ealing again responded well, winning a lineout in Nottingham territory and moving the ball out wide for Ronnie McLean to break through after good work form impressive full back Andrew Henderson. Ward again slotted over the conversion to put Ealing 14-13 ahead.

And it was Henderson who got the home side's third try, showing plenty of pace as he broke away from inside his own half to touch down and give Ward a straightforward conversion.

But it was Nottingham who finished the first half camped in home territory, eventually creating space for Joe Cobden to mark his return to the side with a try which Jarvis converted to make it 21-20 at the break.

The Ealing backs had caused all sorts of problems for the Nottingham defence, and it didn't take them long to secure the bonus point with another impressive attack soon after the restart.

And again it was Henderson who made the breakthrough after good handling from Tom Bedford and Phil Chesters. Ward's conversion gave the home side an eight-point cushion.

Another Jarvis penalty cut the deficit to five points, but the move which led up to that penalty saw Cobden forced out of the action with a hamstring problem.

Despite being reduced to 14 men, following a yellow card, Ealing restored that eight-point advantage with a penalty from Ward, who then increased it to eleven points with a drop goal.

A second drop goal, this time from Morgan Thompson made it 37-23, but Nottingham managed to find another strong finish to close the gap to just two points.

First it was Calladine who chipped through and gathered the ball to cross, with Jarvis making it 37-30 with the conversion.

And substitute Harrison Lee-Everton then raced down the wing to score in the corner. The difficult conversion would have levelled the scores but hit the post, much to Ealing's relief and Nottingham's frustration.

The home side managed to run the clock down over the last couple of minutes to hang on for a deserved win.


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