- Ealing Trailfinders - Tries: Harries, Wilson. Penalties: Clegg (2)
- Yorkshire Carnegie - Tries: Holmes (2), Davies, Burrows. Conversions: Ford (4). Penalties: Ford. Drop-goals: Ford
Yorkshire Carnegie held off a spirited Ealing Trailfinders comeback to take an 18-point lead back to Leeds in the first leg of the Greene King IPA Championship semi-final.
Carnegie opened up a commanding 24-3 lead at the break with a first-half double from Jonah Holmes stunning the hosts after parity in the opening quarter.
Fly-half Joe Ford pulled the strings magnificently for Carnegie and added a drop-goal of his own on the stroke of half-time.
But Ealing fought back after the break to stay in the two-legged tie with full-back Will Harries stepping four defenders to get his side back in the game.
But Carnegie No.8 Burrows ensured Yorkshire returned back to the north with a sizeable cushion ahead of Ealing’s visit next Friday.
Ealing resist early pressure
From the off, Yorkshire Carnegie put the hosts under serious pressure with Trailfinders scrum-half Luke Carter charged down from two box kicks in the opening 10 minutes.
Despite suffocating Trailfinders in the opening exchanges, Carnegie conceded the first points of the match when Ealing fly-half Rory Clegg landed a long-range penalty after ten minutes.
Carnegie playmaker Ford varied his kicking game between high bombs and long probing kicks to test the Ealing back three early on but winger Wilson was up to the challenges posed to him.
And Clegg should have doubled his side’s lead after 15 minutes but the fly-half dragged his penalty shot wide from a position he would have expected to be successful from.
Yorkshire continued to be the masters of their own downfall by giving away penalties at the breakdown confounded by Joe Ford failing to find touch when they did get their reprieve.
When Yorkshire did manage to put some phases together, they began to have some joy around the ruck which eventually resulted in the game’s first try.
Carnegie gained good field position from the boot of Ford and second rows Ben West and Matt Smith displayed some masterful handling to release winger Holmes under the sticks to put the visitors ahead.
Just minutes later, Ford’s cross kick bounced kindly into the arms of the onrushing Holmes who gladly trotted under the posts to increase Carnegie’s lead to 14-3 in a matter of minutes.
And it went from bad to worse for Ealing, just minutes after Clegg missed a shot at goal he attempted a long, flat pass as he looked for an opening.
The pass was telegraphed by his opposite number Ford who intercepted and galloped 80 metres down the field – he was eventually caught but had the wherewithal to offload to half-back partner Alex Davies who dotted down for their third.
Ford dissected the posts with his conversion to give his side a commanding 21-3 lead. And the impressive fly-half increased his side’s lead with a sweetly struck drop-goal just minutes before half-time.
Trailfinders fight back
A scrappy first 10 minutes after the break did nothing to harm the scoreboard until Ford slotted a penalty to extend Carnegie’s lead further.
Trailfinders were then denied in the corner when Phil Chesters was bundled into touch in the corner, Carnegie’s exit failed to find touch and full-back Will Harries took full advantage.
The Ealing No.15 collected the ball on the halfway line and glided past four Yorkshire defenders to give his side something to shout about in a scintillating individual score.
And Clegg rediscovered his kicking points to knock over another three points as Ealing chipped away at the Carnegie lead.
Ealing continued to mount a brave fightback as their forwards began to gain an edge up front.
They had a go through a powerful driving maul but then opted to spin the ball wide, neatly through the hands to Curtis Wilson who scored in the corner against his old club to bring the scores to 27-16.
But Carnegie showed their class as No.8 Ryan Burrows charged over the line from the base of the scrum to add some gloss to the score line and take a commanding lead into the second leg.
Ealing Trailfinders: 15. Will Harries; 14. Curtis Wilson, 13. Lewis Jones, 12. Joe Munro, 11. Phil Chesters, 10. Rory Clegg, 9. Luke Carter; 1. James Gibbons, 2. Alub Walker, 3. Lewis Thiede, 4. Barney Maddison, 5. Glen Townson, 6. Kieran Murphy, 7. Rayn Smid, 8. Mark Bright
Replacements: 16. Matt Cornish, 17. Will Davis, 18. Alex Penny, 19. Llewelyn Jones, 20. Arthur Ellis, 21. Alex Walker, 22. Aaron Penberthy
Yorkshire Carnegie: 15. Chris Elder; 14. Jonah Holmes, 13. Andy Forsyth, 12. Pete Lucock, 11. Stevie McColl, 10. Joe Ford, 9. Alex Davies; 1. Lewis Boyce, 2. Phil Nilsen, 3. Sione Faletau, 4. Ben West, 5. Matt Smith, 6. Ollie Stedman, 7. Richard Mayhew, 8. Ryan Burrows (c)
Replacements: 16. Mike Mayhew, 17. Matt Beesley, 18. Mike Cusack, 19. Mike Myerscough, 20. Richard Beck, 21. Max Green, 22. Max Wright
Referee: Ian Tempest