EALING LEAVE BRISTOL EMPTY-HANDED
By Ian Todd
October 16 2017
In a closely fought game Bristol came out on top but left it terribly late. A piece of individual brilliance from Mat Protheroe set up the winning try with just minutes left and a penalty on the stroke of full time ensured that Ealing failed to register a losing bonus point
Ealing tried to put Bristol under early pressure but, for all their efforts, it was Bristol’s defence that was utterly dominant and the visiting side ended up going backwards and then giving away a penalty. Bristol went for touch, the catch and drive went in and Ross McMillan duly touched down for a converted try with just five minutes gone.
Bristol then gave away a penalty that Lydon, from long-range sent over, only to see his effort cancelled out shortly afterwards by Billy Searle. Bristol then cut loose down the left wing with Tom Varndell just hauled down but he had Alapati Leuia inside him in support and a lovely offload saw the centre touch down.
Ealing tried to strike back and some inattention allowed them to surge over the Bristol line but some brave work saw Carter turned and held up as he went for the try. The visitors kept up the pressure and although Bristol defended well they eventually cracked when former Bristol forward Will Davies went over.
Ealing edged closer with another Lydon penalty but it was Bristol who ended the half the happier of the two teams when Searle’s darting run bamboozled the defence and he popped the ball on to Steve Luatua who loped over.
The Bristol scrum had been under pressure for much of the first half (legally or not) and it was unsurprising that the referee’s patience finally wore out and Nicky Thomas was sent to the sin-bin. More surprising was was yellow for a very marginal dangerous tackle spotted by the referee’s assistant and then watched several times on the screen. Apparently looking at the screen and seeing the reason Luke Morahan had to go off wasn’t possible. Oh well. Down to thirteen it was seemingly inevitable that Ealing would score. In fact it took them quite a while to get over the whitewash and that is to the credit of Bristol’s defence. More worrying were the two Lydon penalties that put the visitors into a one point lead with just a few minutes to go.
Ealing were down in the Bristol half when their lineout misfired and Luatua claimed the ball. Mat Protheroe took the ball on and with astonishing pace sliced though the Ealing defence. He wrong-footed one man, started to come inside, drew the defender and offloaded to Rhodri Williams who slid in for the crucial bonus point try. Minutes later a knock on from Ealing gave Bristol a scrum in the visitors’ half. Astonishingly it was Ealing who were penalised, to ironic cheers from the crowd, and Searle's last minute effort sailed over to deny Ealing even the consolation of a losing bonus point.