Ealing Trailfinders 17 Doncaster Knights 17: Lowly Ealing run Knights close
Doncaster Knights remain unbeaten on the road since October but they must have been hoping for better than a 17-17 draw at Championship strugglers Ealing Trailfinders.
Last season’s National One champions, hoping to avoid a second relegation in three seasons, had not won a league game on their 3G pitch since the opening month of the campaign, though they had picked up a losing bonus point against both Bristol and Bedford.
Despite not being at their best, Knights still had the chance to win the game but fly-half Simon Humberstone - taking over the kicking duties from the injured Dougie Flockhart in his first Championship start for the club - failed to convert a late try.
Ealing’s hopes of recording their second home win of the season weren’t helped when former Knights fly-half Tristan Roberts joined several other team-mates on the sidelines and director of rugby Ben Ward had to don the No 10 shirt. But they welcomed back record-breaking winger Phil Chesters and former Knights centre Toby Howley-Berridge.
Chesters opened the scoring on nine minutes, rounding off a bout of slick handling from a scrum to touch down too wide for Ward to add the extras. It had been a below par first half by Knights but the momentum swung their way in the closing stages of the half and they came in 12-5 ahead.
Scrum-half Michael Heaney caught the Ealing defence flat-footed when taking a quick tap penalty and No 8 Ollie Stedman crashed over for his fourth try in the last two games.
Humberstone tagged on the extras to secure his side a 7-5 lead. Hooker Ben Hunter, who spent time at Ealing earlier in his career, touched down for a second try on the stroke of half time from a maul inside the 22.
Wing Rhys Crane, one of only three backs to have started against Pirates last time out to start the game, touched down from close range after the home side had worked the ball towards the Doncaster line following a lineout on the halfway.
Ward tagged on the conversion to level the scores at 12-12 going into the final quarter.
Knights fell behind for a second time on 66 minutes, centre Danny Barnes getting on the end of a chip kick by Crane to score an unconverted try to put his side on course for a shock win.
But Knights never know when they are beaten and, after going close a couple of minutes earlier, drew level from a huge driving maul
Knights, who failed to capitalise on a Stedman break as well as Humberstone having a drop goal charged down, went closest to winning but Ealing hung on for a deserved draw.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Hurrell, Bulumakau, Clark, Lewis; Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, Quigley, Challoner, Hotson, Shaw, Makaafi, Stedman. Rep: Stagg, Sprotson, John, Hotson, Owen, Bryant, Field.