Ealing Trailfinders won the first of their back-to-back pre-season clashes with Newcastle Falcons in West London on Saturday, edging a physical and competitive contest.
Having gone 239 days without a game the Falcons flew into their task early on, showing physicality in contact and earning a pair of line-outs in the Ealing 22.
Dogged home defence and the inevitable degree of rustiness saw those attacking opportunities come to nought, despite the best efforts of some hard midfield running lines from centre pairing Joel Matavesi and Luther Burrell.
Ealing, too, saw promising field position going unrewarded when a five-metre line-out in the right corner ended up with a knock-on at the base, but the home side were certainly fronting up in defence as they produced a jackal penalty to end a spell of Falcons phase play on the opposing 22.
The deadlock was finally broken on 23 minutes when a pick-and-go from close range saw Newcastle prop Mark Tampin burrowing over against his old team, the ruck having been set up from a rampaging run by fellow prop Adam Brocklebank.
Joel Hodgson converted, but within five minutes Ealing hit back when debutant winger Angus Kernohan was first to a loose ball in the right corner, the Falcons having stopped the home side’s driving maul.
Craig Willis’s missed conversion left the Falcons two points up at the half-hour mark, Hodgson having no such worries with the boot as he slotted a penalty from right of centre, 35 metres out.
Willis, however, found his range with a more straightforward penalty just before the interval, cutting Newcastle’s half-time lead to 10-8.
He did so again just three minutes after the resumption, the Falcons bringing on 12 replacements during the break but falling behind for the first time thanks to Willis’s boot.
Flanker Kieran Murphy extended their advantage to eight when he scored just to the left of the posts following a lineout in the right corner, Willis slotting the extras, and there was worse to come when a collapsed maul saw a penalty try awarded as well as ten minutes in the sin bin for Logovi’i Mulipola.
Home flanker Guy Thompson crossed for Ealing’s fourth try with a quickly-tapped penalty in the right corner, but the Falcons hit back with a quick tap of their own when Sam Stuart scooted between the posts after a sustained period of goal-line pressure.
Toby Flood added the simple conversion, Ealing responding via another Willis penalty three minutes from time in what proved to be the last scoring act of the day.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Joel Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Gary Graham.
Replacements: 16 Darren Barry, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Rob Farrar, 20 Will Welch, 21 Matthew Ward, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Ben Stevenson, 2 Charlie Maddison, 3 Mike Daniels, 8 Tom Marshall, 9 Sam Stuart, 12 Pete Lucock, 15 Brett Connon.
Scorers – Tries: Mark Tampin, Sam Stuart. Conversions: Joel Hodgson, Toby Flood. Penalties: Joel Hodgson.
Ealing Trailfinders: 15 David Johnston, 14 Angus Kernohan, 13 Max Bodilly, 12 Pat Howard, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Craig Hampson; 1 James Gibbons, 2 Shaun Malton, 3 Lewis Thiede, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Harry Casson, 6 Kieran Murphy, 7 Guy Thompson, 8 Rayn Smid (captain).
Replacements: Will Davis, Michael Van Vuuren, George Davis, Simon Linsell, Dave McKern, Simon Uzokwe, Abongile Nonkontwana, Shane Buckley, Jordan Burns, Steven Shingler, Fraser Strachan, James Cordy Redden.
Scorers – Tries: Angus Kernohan, Kieran Murphy, penalty try, Guy Thompson. Conversions: Craig Willis 2. Penalties: Craig Willis 3.
Referee: Wayne Barnes.