Ealing Trailfinders 16-22 Cornish Pirates
Ealing Trailfinders were unable to give their fans a festive treat when they slipped to only their second loss at Vallis Way.
Curtis Wilson scored a try and Aaron Penberthy added a conversion and three penalties, but it wasn’t enough to stop a determined Pirates side who were inspired by livewire scrumhalf Stuart Townsend.
Ben Ward’s side did at least finish with a losing bonus point that takes them to 31 points in the Greene King IPA Championship.
Wilson came close to opening the scoring early on, but he was unable to reach Alex Walker’s grubber before it ran dead.
Instead it was Pirates who struck first when Toby May finished in the corner after scrumhalf Stuart Townsend had sparked their back line with a tapped penalty on the halfway line.
Townsend continued to cause problems and Laurence May also came close to breaking through before Ealing Trailfinders’ defence had to bundle Alex Cheesman into touch close to their line.
Soon after Pirates hooker Tom Channon was held up after a driven line-out, as was Marlen Walker as the Pirates continued to set the tempo.
Ealing Trailfinders began to work their way back into the match and Aaron Penberthy slotted his first penalty after the Pirates defence was penalised for offside.
The home defence continued to work hard as Pirates continued to apply the pressure, but neither side added to the score before the break.
The home side came out and immediately raised their intensity. Alun Walker came close to the hosts first try, before Penberthy kicked them ahead early in the second period.
Pirates Laurence May replied almost immediately with his first penalty and then picked out wing Jack Arnott with a carefully threaded grubber kick.
Penberthy kicked his third penalty and then after Arthur Ellis had broken into the Pirates half, Wilson was set free down the right wing to score in the corner.
The fly-half’s conversion put Ealing Trailfinders ahead for the first time, but Pirates prop Tyler Gendall wiggled over after Joe Munro had twice stopped the Cornish backline from breaking through.
Ealing Trailfinders did their best to fight back as the clock ran down, but the Pirates controlled possession and ran the clock down by kicking deep whenever they could to stop the home side facing a packed defence whenever they ran the ball back.
Tries (Wilson 62), Conversions (Penberthy 63), Penalties (Penberthy 32, 46, 60)
Tries (Toby May 7, Arnott 51, Gendall 68), Conversions (Laurence May 52, 68), Penalties (Laurence May 48)
Luke Daniels, Curtis Wilson, Aled Jenkins, Joe Munro, Phil Chesters, Aaron Penberthy, Alex Walker; James Gibbons, Alun Walker, Lewis Thiede, Carwyn Jones, Glen Townson, Willie Ryan, Arthur Ellis, Mark Bright (captain)
Matt Cornish, Ignacio Lancuba, Sam Rodman, Barney Maddison, Kieran Murphy, Luke Carter, Lewis Jones
Toby May, Jack Arnott, Max Bodilly, Nicolas De Battista, Kyle Moyle, Laurence May, Stuart Townsend; Marlen Walker, Tom Channon, Tyler Gendall, Chris Morgan (capt), Brett Beukeboom, Sam Simmonds, Alex Cheesman, Tom Duncan
Jack Innard, Alan Paver, Jake Parker, Dan Lee, Alex Day, Will Cargill, Bar Bartlett.
Referee – Mike Hudson
Attendance - 856