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Match Report: Ealing Trialfinders 34 v 32 Doncaster Knights

Ealing Trailfinders finished as 34-32 victors over Doncaster Knights after a nail-biting encounter that was decided by the last kick of the game on 23 September 2023.

Tries from Jonah Holmes, Reuben Bird-Tulloch, Dan O’Brien, Matt Cornish and Rayn Smid, and a 78th-minute penalty from Steven Shingler helped the home side secure a narrow victory.

This result leaves Trailfinders top of Pool D, with three wins from three games in the new look competition.

After a Billy McBryde penalty, Jonah Holmes crossed in the corner on 15 minutes to calm the early nerves of the TFSC faithful.

The Knights would reply quickly as Number Eight Seb Nagle-Taylor dotted down in the 21st minute to make the score 7-8.

Then Bird-Tulloch produced a bit of magic. Taking the ball on the right-hand side of the field 30m from the opposition try line, the inside centre beat three men and would not be caught as he flew over the line to score.

Ealing Trailfinders v Doncaster KnightsPremiership Rugby Cup
Kyle Whyte of Ealing Trailfinders during the Premiership Rugby Cup match between Ealing Trailfinders and Doncaster Knights at Trailfinders Sports Ground, Vallis Way, West Ealing, England on 23 September 2023. Photo by Liam McAvoy.

Yet again, Doncaster would answer quickly as ex-Trailfinder Ollie Fox broke through the line and offloaded to Flanker Archie Smeaton to dot down.

Dan O’Brien scored three minutes later, after a maul on the Doncaster 5m line, making it two from three for the Aussie who made his debut in Round One.

That would be the last try of the half, and following a McBryde penalty kick, Trailfinders would go in at half-time with a narrow 19-18 lead.

It was a breathless first half, where Trailfinders had to dig deep to get anything out of a physical, accurate Doncaster Knights side.

The second half would start strangely.

McBryde attempted to take a leaf out of George Ford’s book with a drop goal from the 22, but he did not move the scoreboard.

Then, in the 49th minute, Matt Cornish opened the scoring in the second half, taking his record to three tries from three games and the score to 26-18.

The away side would score next through centre loanee Joe Bedlow as the game entered the final quarter at 26-25.

They would quickly take the lead through another ex-Trailfinder. Jack Metcalf streaked away from the Trailfinders defence to leave the score 26-32.

The home side would reply quickly as Smid went over in the corner to close the gap.

The score would be 31-32 entering the last 10 minutes.

Shingler then gave the home side the lead as Trailfinders won a penalty right in front of the posts from 10m out, which he knocked over comfortably to leave the score 34-32.

The Knights would have one last chance. A penalty kick from about 45m out against the wind was the challenge for McBryde. His attempt dropped just inches short, leaving Trailfinders unbeaten in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

Trailfinders Director of Rugby Ben Ward said, “We’re delighted with the five points. It was a game that could have swung either way.

“They were probably unlucky not to get the result, but we managed to find a way.”

Full-Time – Ealing Trailfinders 34-32 Doncaster Knights

Tries – Holmes (15) Bird-Tulloch (25) Dan O’Brien (32) Cornish (49) Smid (68)

Conversions – Shingler (16,32,50)

Penalties – Shingler (78)


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