Bees 3 Ealing Trailfinders 35
THE start of the rugby season came too early for Bees who were soundly beaten here at Damson Park by last year’s League Two champions.
The one certainty is that the hastily assembled home squad, relegated from the Championship last season, can only get better as director of rugby and Number 8 Russell Earnshaw acknowledged: “We’ve only just got together and we simply haven’t had time to gel.
“We will improve, we’ve just got to do it quickly and work harder.”
There were bright spots in defeat - Kiwi scrum half Warwick Lahmert was particularly lively while Tom Quarrie at second row proved a useful ball carrier. Wing forward Chris Brightwell also made an impact.
However of major concern must be the scrum, which creaked from the first and then leaked a penalty try right at the start of the second half to give Ealing a 28-3 lead.
The line out was misfiring too with too many balls going astray in key attacking positions.
“The lack of ball killed us,” admitted Earnshaw, “and we will definitely be working on winning first phase in training.”
Bees didn’t see the ball at all for the first five minutes of the match as Ealing, known for playing running rugby, spun it wide for winger Owen Bruynseels to score in the corner.
Fly half Neil Hallett missed the conversion but it was his only kick that did go astray all afternoon.
Bees immediately hit back, spurning a kick at goal on eight minutes to slot it into the corner instead. However from the line out hooker Jack Preece was penalised for hanging on to the ball and the opportunity was lost.
Ealing’s backs looked dangerous all afternoon and on ten minutes Bruynseels fielded a high ball, passed to No 8 Matt Evans who kicked for the corner, left winger Phil Chesters scoring by the flag. Hallett converted.
Bees were living off scraps and what ball they got was woefully slow but the home side won a penalty which new fly half Dan Hawkes kicked to make it 12-3 for Ealing.
These proved to be Bees’ only points of the game and were quickly cancelled out with interest by three Hallett penalties as the home side struggling to control their own line out, committed a series of infringements.
Then came the penalty try which sent Bees spiralling to 28-3 down.
However the home side did come into the game more in the second half; the ball was still bobbling around in the line out but the scrums were better and so was ball retention.
Quarrie at second row was prominent too as Bees started to make dents in the Ealing line.
They came close to crossing it as well, but the ball was slow and there was always the temptation, taken too often, to kick for the wingers instead. A bit more patience might have paid dividends instead.
Ealing meanwhile had a host of chances, centre Joe Price and full back Pete Hodgkinson seemingly breaking the gain line at will. Luckily for Bees final passes were going astray until the very last minute of the match.
The visitors won turn over ball inside their own half and fed Bruynseels who scampered off down the line, drew his opposite number and fed Hodgkinson to score under the posts. Hallett converted.
On Saturday Bees are away to Jersey in National League 1 and Earnshaw will be looking to win primary possession, hang on to it, and then use it well - preferably with pace.
“Things did get better in the second half when we had the opportunity to play the sort of rugby we’ve been aiming for,” said Earnshaw.
“But let’s not take anything away from Ealing, they were a very good side, who’ve been together a long time and it showed.”