For 65 minutes, an inexperienced Richmond side did very well to contest a tight game with an Ealing side stuffed full of Premiership and top end Championship quality.

A yellow card at this stage proved to be a tipping point as the Trailfinders, having looked thoroughly frustrated, pulled away with three tries in the last fifteen minutes.

This was the second week of Cup games and Richmond retained only three starters from the previous week, with one of them Jordan Simpson-Hefft moving from wing to full back. The changes provided first starting opportunities for three backs, Marcus Webber, Morgan Ward and Ben Cook whilst lock Rui D’Orey on the bench made his first team debut.

In good running conditions, Ronnie McLean-Dents led the Richmond team out and they were soon under pressure. The first score stemmed frustratingly from a lost line out on the 22. Richmond then conceded a penalty under pressure and, after Ealing kicking for the corner, received a warning from referee Dean Richards. The visitors used the second penalty to set up again five metres out. This time, Richmond had no answer and Alun Walker scored a familiar try, converted by Laurence May, last season’s Cornish Pirates fly half.

Richmond levelled the score just six minutes later. The visitors were penalised as Richmond kicked off deep. Loose tap ball at the line out stalled initial progress but another Ealing penalty provided further opportunity. Cook probed intelligently, one lovely flat pass almost sending in Toby Saysell. When the Trailfinders conceded a third penalty, Richmond exacted full punishment, moving the ball to the wide right, Harry Edwards and Jamie Gibbs contributing well before McLean-Dents looped round to take a scoring pass in the corner. Cook added an excellent conversion and it was 7-7.

Ealing were soon back on the attack, with Jordy Reid and Ben West prominent but the defence held. Cook was the first of three home players off for HIA’s before Edwards relieved the siege with a high stepping lope gaining twenty metres from the back of a scrum. However Richmond were sometimes their own worst enemies as the third of eight first half penalties was conceded for running into their own man. Once again the home defence was severely tested but, under the watchful eye of skipper McLean-Dents, the line speed and defensive organisation were excellent. Unable to convert territory into points, Trailfinders made errors too, handling mistakes compounded by a touch kick rolling over the dead ball line.

With the wind favouring them, Richmond’s best moments came around the half hour when several phases were put together around the 22. Cook again showed a nice range of passes whilst Man of the Match Webber on the wing caught the eye several times with some neat footwork and pace. However no more scores were added before half time, a long hopeful penalty by Cook just failing in the final action of the half.

With the wind behind them, Ealing were quickly into their stride, using a penalty to get within fifteen metres. The home defence worked hard but Ealing were more patient this time and, after several phases, May was able to dummy and skip through under the posts, before adding the conversion.

Ealing now had an increasing amount of possession as West disrupted Richmond’s line out ball despite Max Crawford’s best efforts. Their pack applied pressure at the scrum too so, although Richmond played some neat rugby, they struggled to build momentum. Simpson-Hefft, imposing under the high ball, combined well with Jono Woodward and almost worked a breakaway. On the other wing Webber continued to impress in attack and defence. For Ealing, David Johnston, signed from Munster, claimed the moment of the match with a stunning take of a box kick down by his feet.

After 65 minutes, Richmond were suddenly reduced to fourteen men as Nat Opedo, just brought on, was yellow carded near his 22. Trailfinders exacted immediate punishment, kicking to the corner and driving over, courtesy of South African prop Jordan Els. Having defended staunchly for most of the game, Richmond conceded two more tries as Ealing confidence returned. Winger Howard Packman pulled in several defenders before slipping an inside ball to Richmond old boy Jordan Burns, who neatly stepped a defender before racing under the posts.

Finally, with five minutes left, the last score fittingly came from the line out, where Ealing’s superiority had proved significant. A driving maul made good progress, with Walker in trademark position, before the ball was released to the speeding Will Harries for a clinical try. May added the conversion to make the final score a decidedly harsh 7-33.

Steve Hill, Richmond Director of Rugby, commented; ‘This was by some way our best first 60 minutes against Ealing in my time at Richmond. Each Richmond player worked incredibly hard against a really strong Ealing team. A very harsh yellow card proved ultimately our undoing and Ealing showed their firepower in the last fifteen minutes. I thought many of the Richmond players new to this level did really well and for them it proved to be an excellent learning and developing experience.’