Latest Match Report’s
Coventry 18 Rosslyn Park 19
This top-of-the-table tussle was every bit as close as the score suggests. Park’s superbly marshalled defence and real mental fortitude saw them take away Coventry’s unbeaten home record and consolidate their second place in National 1, just 3 points behind leaders Doncaster.
Coventry took the game to their visitors from the start but could not find a way through a defensive brick wall until Park conceded a 7th minute penalty, which was converted by fly half Cliff Hodgson from 35 metres out for 3-0.
From the re-start Park put together a lively attack and tested the home defence with a drive. A great run up the right by winger Charles Broughton extended the ‘Cov’ defence and as the ball was worked across they conceded a penalty to allow Scott Sneddon to equalise on 14 minutes.
If the home side shaded possession and territory, Park’s defence was regularly inducing uncharacteristic errors from them, and it was the visitors who looked most like making something of the possession they had. Park had a chance with a long range penalty, but Sneddon’s kick bounced back into play off a post.
A super run through the middle by Gower set up an attack through several phases before Broadbent was sent clear, only to be brought back for a forward pass. A further Park penalty was hammered to the corner, to set up the catch and drive, and Will Bowley set up the move that saw Broughton power over to put Park into the lead, Sneddon’s conversion stretching it to 10-3 on the half hour.
Coventry are too good a side to take that lying down and launched a massive attack. Park’s defensive tackling was out of the top drawer, but they could not avoid conceding a penalty in front of their posts to allow Hodgson to reduce the margin to 10-6 on 33 minutes.
Park countered with a run from Sneddon deep into the home defence, and a try out wide looked very likely but for a wild final pass.
On the stroke of half time Cov forced their way to the Park line and some doughty defending could not stop lock Scott Morgan crashing over to score. Hodgson’s conversion for a 13-10 home lead was the final kick of the half.
Only two minutes into the second half Park forced a penalty for Sneddon to equalise at 13-13.
Perhaps the pivotal point of the match came on 54 minutes, with Park attacking and an overlap up the right looked ‘on’. But Coventry full-back Barry Davies made a brilliant interception to streak away. However, referee Andrew Small had already spotted an obstruction moments before and brought play back for a penalty to Park, gratefully accepted by Sneddon for 16-13.
Park came back onto the attack immediately, a hack on by Hugo Ellis set up a promising situation. Cov conceded another penalty and Sneddon scored off the post for 19-13 on 58 minutes.
However, Park were dealt a massive blow moments later when the fly half had to retire injured, leaving Park without a specialist kicker. Full-back Pete Hodgkinson moved to fly half and Ed Lewis-Pratt came off the bench to fill his place.
Coventry replied immediately with a devastating attack that saw the ball flung wide to winger Mark Kohler, but with the line at his mercy he knocked on. Cov threw everything they had at rescuing the match. They gained a difficult penalty, which Hodgson narrowly missed. Ten minutes from the end they gained their reward, Kohler making amends for his previous mistake with a superb try in the corner. It looked as if a great diving cover tackle had put the winger into touch but referee and touch judge were well positioned to allow the effort. Hodgson’s touchline conversion attempt was always missing, but at 19-18 Park had to play out the final ten minutes with a one-point lead.
The biggest crowd of the season at the Butts Arena put a wall of noise behind their team, but Park simply refused to yield. When Park took the game to Coventry and gained a penalty, Ed Lewis-Pratt was left to convert a really difficult chance with his first kick of the match. He narrowly missed, but Park continued to strangle the match with a series of drives. When the referee indicated two minutes to go, Park produced an object lesson in how to run down the clock. A series of pick-and-drives gave Coventry not a scent of the ball, and when Hodgkinson looked at the referee who indicated that 80 minutes was up, he accepted the ball and kicked it into the crowd to claim victory
Park: Hodgkinson; Broughton, Staff, Gower, Vincent; Sneddon (Lewis-Pratt); Gash; Lundberg, Bellamy, McKenzie (Ward); Ball, Bowley; Starling (Rowland), Broadbent, Ellis
Subs (not used): Cobb, Heeks
Park scorers: Broughton (T), Sneddon (4P, C)
Doncaster 24 Rosslyn Park 17
This match was everything a top-of-the table clash should be, and Rosslyn Park left Castle Park with their heads held high in defeat. They competed on equal terms with the league leaders – the only full-time professionals in the Division – right up to the very last moment, and with the rub of the green the result could easily have gone the other way.
Doncaster held most of the early possession but Park’s tigerish tackling kept them at bay. The visitors suffered a serious early blow when flanker Ben Lonergan had to be helped from the pitch after only six minutes.
The home side got first blood, an interception allowing flanker Lucas Guillame, on loan from Leicester Tigers, to sprint over after just 15 minutes in a Doncaster shirt. Fly half Paul Roberts converted for 7-0.
Park fought their way back into it, immediately forcing a penalty. Fly half Scott Sneddon’s long range attempt narrowly missed, but he was on target two minutes later to peg the scores back to 7-3. Both sides looked dangerous with ball in hand, putting together some fine moves, but the defences were equally sound.
It was Park who blinked next with Doncaster gaining the ball from a Park line-out for centre Bevon Armitage to sprint through and place the ball under the posts. In the context of the match it was a soft try, Roberts’ conversion a formality for 14-3 on 21 minutes.
Park showed they had not given up on the match as their pack mangled a Doncaster scrummage. The home side then forced a penalty, missed by Roberts, only for Sneddon to return the compliment the other end. It was real ding dong stuff, with Park gaining encouragement just before the interval when home back row man Adam Kettle resorted to extra-legal means to stop a Park drive and was yellow carded for a professional foul.
Rosslyn Park made a storming start to the second half with a move that ripped apart the home defence for replacement flanker Harry Broadbent to run through a despairing tackle to score by the posts. Sneddon added the extras to peg the score back to 14-10 after only 3 minutes of the second period.
Park were now looking like gaining the upper hand but Doncaster forced their way back to gain a penalty that Roberts missed. It was end to end, the home side nearly scoring in the corner, only for Park to launch a lethal counter-attack that saw full-back Peter Hodgkinson sprint away to score on 61n minutes. Sneddon nailed the conversion for a 17-14 lead, and an upset was on the cards with only 19 minutes remaining.
Doncaster launched a massive response that saw Park lock James Inglis binned for a professional foul, and replacement fly half Jamie Lennard slotted over the penalty to extract the full price and being the score back level at 17-17 with 12 minutes remaining.
Battling on initially a man short, Park could not have given more and it was a heart breaker for them when home winger Tyson Lewis flew in for a super try with less than two minutes left, Lennard converting.
Still Park did not give up and threw everything into a massive last minute assault on the Doncaster right corner. The home side conceded three penalties and a yellow card in holding them out, but just as a penalty try looked on the cards it was Park who incurred the penalty. Doncaster gratefully hoofed the ball out of the ground to claim victory and end a really superb game of rugby that was a credit to two fine teams.
Park Head Coach, Alex Codling, said, “The overall feeling is pride. They’re an unbelievable bunch. I don’t like losing but I’m proud of what we’ve achieved against a fully professional outfit”.
Park: Hodgkinson; Cole, Broughton, Staff, Vincent; Sneddon; Gash; Liffchak, Bellamy (Clark), McKenzie (Lundberg); Inglis, Bowley; Ball, Lonergan (Broadbent), Ellis.
Subs (not playing): Heeks, Mackey
Scorers: Broadbent (T), Hodgkinson (T), Sneddon (P, 2C).
Rosslyn Park 38 Esher 31
If Rosslyn Park deserved to come out in front in this thrilling local derby, in front of a large Roehampton crowd, scoring five tries to Esher’s three, a stunning comeback by the Surrey side forced them to dig deep to see out the victory. A key difference between the two sides was the flair shown by the Park backs.
Esher started strongly, but offered nothing that the home defence could not comfortably deal with. As soon as Park sniffed possession, a powerful run by winger Dave Vincent saw him offload to centre Charles Broughton, who beat two tackles to ground the ball. Fly half Scott Sneddon added a conversion for 7-0 on 2 minutes.
Broughton turned provider for the second try 12 minutes later. The home pack got the better of Esher at a scrum and from a resulting penalty a good run by Broughton nearly made the line, but full-back Ed Lewis-Pratt was on hand to dive in, with Sneddon’s conversion increasing the lead to 14-0.
Park looked good value for their lead, comfortably snuffing out anything the visitors tried. On 21 minutes Park conceded a penalty on their own 10 metre line. Esher full-back Luke Daniels popped over a good long-range effort to put his side on the scoreboard at 14-3.
Park continued to play some delightful rugby in the backs, throwing the ball around, but they tried it once too often and alert left winger Anders Morgensen pounced for a super interception try, his pace leaving the defence behind for 14-8.
Just as it looked as if Park would go into half-time with a lead that scarcely represented their contribution, Esher were pinged for ‘crossing’ fielding the kick off in their own 22. This set up another major onslaught as Park forced a scrum in front of the Esher posts. The ball was handed to winger Joe Ajuwa, popping up in the middle, and he easily defied a tackle to score a try that left a question mark over the Esher defence. A straightforward conversion for Sneddon made it 21-8 on 40 minutes.
Esher made a big effort at the start of the second half and forced a penalty on the home 22 for Daniels to peg back the score to 21-11.
Park found the perfect riposte when, with the referee playing advantage for a knock-on, a searing run from Lewis-Pratt sent Vincent in at the corner for the bonus point try, Sneddon nailing a very difficult kick to prudence a lead of 28-11 after 44 minutes.
Esher’s response underlined why they are title challengers. They went up several gears and produced a display of controlled rugby that simply starved Park of any worthwhile possession as the visitors hauled themselves back into the match. From a Park scrum in front of their own posts, the ball emerged awkwardly for scrum half Jack Gash, who needed two attempts to get hold of it. Esher pounced, moved the ball quickly to the wing where Ashley Smith got over. Daniels made a magnificent conversion off the far post for 28-18.
When Park made the Esher 22, instead of relief, a crooked throw and succession of penalties saw them back deep in their own territory, Daniels slotting over a penalty to bring his side within a try at 28-21 with 24 minutes to go.
Esher threw everything at Park, who were now leaking penalties which the visitors repeatedly kicked to touch for a succession of 5-metre throws. Eventually prop David Millard forced his way over and Daniels’ conversion tied up the scores at 28-28 with barely ten minutes remaining.
Suddenly an Esher win looked very much on the cards. But Park showed unquenchable spirit to wrest back control. A surging home move saw the ball lost in contact but they came back and a run from Lewis-Pratt was stopped at the cost of a penalty. It would have been a difficult one in training, but in the context of a red hot local Derby Sneddon’s place kick was out of the top drawer to restore his team’s lead at 31-28.
Park were now calling the shots, but with both sides knowing a mistake could cost them everything the tension was palpable. With 80 minutes up, Vincent burst through the middle for Park at top speed to touch down between the posts, Sneddon converting for 38-28.
Park thought they had won, but there were still 3 minutes of added time and Esher threw everything they had into the rescue mission. Park defended superbly, conceding a penalty only when the match was in its last play. No one could begrudge Esher the losing bonus point brought up by Daniels kick.
Delighted Rosslyn Park Head Coach, Alex Codling, said, “We showed great character in the second half. To come back like that in the end tells you everything you need to know about this team”. Next Saturday Park face potentially an even tougher examination, when they travel up to Yorkshire to tackle the league-leaders, Doncaster Knights, the only full-time professionals in the Division.
Park: Lewis-Pratt; Ajuwa, Broughton (Gower), Staff, Vincent; Sneddon; Gash; Liffchak, Clarke (Bellamy), McKenzie (Lundberg); Inglis, Boyle (Rowland); Ball, Broadbent, Ellis
Sub not used: Hodgkinson
Park scorers: Vincent 2T, Broughton T, Lewis-Pratt T, Ajuwa T, Sneddon 4C
Tynedale 13 Rosslyn Park 41
Three tries in each half saw Park move up to second place, two points behind leaders Doncaster and ahead of Esher – whom they play at Roehampton next Saturday – on the same number of points. It was not quite as easy as the final score suggests, however.
With the spectre of relegation looming, fired-up Tynedale threw everything they had at their visitors straight from kick-off. Despite playing into a strong wind they subjected the Park defence to the sternest of tests, spurning an early penalty to keep the attack going. It was a test Park passed with flying colours, but not before a third penalty brought a warning from the referee and 3 points for home fly half Gavin Beasley on 10 minutes.
Settling down, Park soon began to dictate proceedings and gained a penalty from which Scott Sneddon slotted over an equaliser two minutes later.
Tynedale continued to buzz around, but Park began to move up into gears the home side simply did not possess. A penalty on half way was belted into the 22 for the catch and drive. A further penalty was propelled back into touch to set up an immense drive. Tynedale defended resolutely but when the ball was whipped out to the wing they could not stop Joe Awuja from going over in the corner for 8-3.
A super attack up the right, from inside their own half, brought Park again to the line to set up a drive. The ball was spread inside and again it was again Awuja who popped up by the posts to score, Sneddon adding a conversion for 15-3 with ten minutes to the interval. It did not seem too big a margin for facing the strong wind in the second half.
Park were patient, and a scything run up the left by winger Dave Vincent saw him eventually desperately pulled back by his shirt tail, but not before he offloaded to centre Henry Staff who coasted in past two defenders. Sneddon added a conversion for 22-3.
That seemed probably enough, but Park gained further assistance from the elements: as the sun set at the picturesque ground by the rural banks of the Tyne, the strength of the wind dropped considerably.
The visitors made a bright start to the second half when a dazzling run from Ajuwa saw them drive on, only to be penalised. But Park were brought back to earth with a superb individual try by the home left winger, Dan Rundle, who galloped up the flank to round the defence for 22-8. There was still plenty of fight in Tynedale yet.
Some clever play by Henry Staff soon cancelled that one out, as he set up prop Laurence Ovens to run through and pop the ball up for hooker Adam Bellamy to score and bring up the bonus point. Sneddon added a conversion for 29-8.
To their great credit Tynedale simply refused to admit defeat, putting together an excellent move to set up a drive to the line. A penalty was kicked to touch but Park’s steady defence managed to spoil the chance.
The visitors put together a great move, inspired by some fine skills by Harry Broadbent and finished in style by Vincent. Sneddon’s conversion made it 36-8 on the hour, and Park were effectively out of sight.
No one told Tynedale, though, and they pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a try up the right by replacement Greg Illingworth, with an assist by some questionable defence. But Park had the last word on the final whistle, when a fine run by Charlie Gower took them into the left corner where eventually Alex Lundberg had the strength to put the ball down. When Sneddon’s touchline conversion narrowly missed the referee signalled time.
Park: Lewis-Pratt; Ajuwa, Broughton (Gower), Staff, Vincent; Sneddon; Gash; Ovens (Lundberg), Bellamy (Clarke), McKenzie; Bowley, Boyle (Starling); Broadbent, Rowland, Shires.
Sub (not used): Hodgkinson
Park scorers: Ajuwa (2T), Staff (T), Bellamy (T), Vincent (T), Lundberg (T), Sneddon (P, 4C)
Rosslyn Park 31 Loughborough 5
Despite awful weather and traffic chaos that caused the kick-off to be delayed by half an hour, both sides provided a very respectable attendance with an entertaining game of attacking rugby. Park thoroughly deserved their win, but the final score does scant justice to the contribution made by Loughborough.
The visitors looked dangerous from the kick-off, launching a telling attack that was spoilt only by a knock-on. Park countered, only to be halted by a similar handling error. Winger Joe Ajuwa – on loan from London Welsh – soon revealed himself to be a potent threat up the right, nearly going over in the corner.
It was another Ajuwa run up the right that started the move for Park’s first try. The ball was passed inside and Loughborough defended successfully against several forays before lock Richard Boyle forced his way over, Scott Sneddon adding the extras for 7-0 on 17 minutes.
It took Park only nine minutes to add to the score, another fine move ended with hooker Adam Bellamy touching down close enough to the posts to make Sneddon’s conversion a formality and the score 14-0.
Loughborough were in trouble from their re-start kick going directly into touch, but they weathered the storm and put in a couple of good moves of their own to keep the home defence on their toes. They won a penalty, which fly half James Moffatt narrowly missed but were unable to crack the home defence. On the stroke of half-time Park themselves won a penalty, which looked at the very limit of Sneddon’s range and proved to be a couple of metres beyond it.
Park started the second half strongly and soon passed and mauled their way to a solid position inside the visitors’ 22. The forwards drove to the line, won a scrum and, under the cosh, Loughborough could not escape a succession of scrums without conceding penalties. Eventually their tight-head prop, Harry Rudkin was shown a yellow card and they were forced to withdraw number 8 George Messum in order to bring on a front row replacement. Against a reduced pack Park shoved over for Hugo Ellis to claim the score, Sneddon converting for 21-0.
In adversity Loughborough clearly concluded that attack was their best means of defence, and a neat attack saw full-back Jack Pons score to the right of the posts for 21-5. Restored to full-strength the visitors put in a blistering attack through the middle, but the Park defence was equal to it.
Park returned to the attack and a kick over the defence looked certain to produce a try until the chaser was tugged back by his shirt. Park were clearly unhappy that this went undetected by the match officials, and when penalised shortly afterwards were marched back 10 metres for offering an unsolicited opinion.
Park continued to attack, again drove to the line but again found themselves penalised. A slick move across the field saw the ball eventually captured and Loughborough’s smart counter-attack was only foiled on half way. Just as it seemed Park might again miss out on a bonus point some smart play by Ellis prompted a great attack up the right, high-speed re-cycling of the ball through several hands ending with replacement scrum half Jack Gash galloping over for a great team try.
From the last move of the match Ajuwa capped a distinctly promising debut by using his speed and power to crash over by the right corner flag for 31-5.
Rosslyn Park: Hodgkinson (Lewis-Pratt); Ajawa, Broughton, Staff, Vincent; Sneddon; Burns (Gash); Liffchak, Bellamy (Clarke), MacKenzie (Ward); Inglis, Boyle; Shires, Broadbent (Rowland), Ellis.
Park scorers: Boyle (T), Bellamy (T), Ellis (T), Gash (T), Ajuwa (T), Sneddon (3C).
Fylde 26 Rosslyn Park 10
Park lost their unbeaten record at Fylde on Saturday and could have no complaints at the final result. That did not look a likely outcome at half time after a strong first-half display saw them leading 10-7 despite playing into the teeth of a very strong wind.
Fylde started well. Park got an early throw on the home 22 but were penalised. Fylde hoofed the ball a prodigious wind-assisted distance to touch well into Park territory. The visitors defended very well, but twice when they turned over possession the wind prevented clearance kicks penetrating much beyond their own 22. Eventually a slick move through several hands saw home lock Paul Arnold crash over on 9 minutes, fly half Chris Johnson converting for 7-0.
From the re-start Park drove deep into home territory, but when they were penalised the ball was belted back to their own 22.
In terms of possession, Park at least broke even and had a clear edge in the forwards, consistently driving Fylde backwards and pressing in the scrum. But – fine running side that they are, and dangerous from anywhere on the field – Fylde always had the additional option to kick the ball back deep into Park territory, leaving them to do it all over again.
Eventually Park built a head of steam to drive right to the Fylde line. The home side defended well but incurred enough re-set scrums and five penalties that the referee had little alternative but to show the yellow card. When Fylde offended yet again as they slid backwards at the re-set scrum the penalty try was awarded. Scott Sneddon slotted over the conversion to tie the scores on 28 minutes.
The ball was soon back in the Park 22, and as they worked it back up the field Fylde conceded a penalty to allow Sneddon to kick his side to a 10-7 lead on 34 minutes.
Fylde threw everything at Park for the last 6 minutes, spurning two easily kickable penalties to keep up the pressure but Park’s tackling was superb and the home side simply could not force the score.
There was a general consensus that the wind was worth several points advantage, so with a 3 point lead Park must have started the second period as firm favourites. Fylde had other ideas and – now unable to use the boot even if they wanted to – they deployed the running game that they play so well to completely dominate the second half.
They soon had Park pinned back on defence. While Park could clear long distances to set up attacks of their own, it was the home side who looked really dangerous. The visitors suffered a serious blow when lock Richard Boyle, who had been a tower of strength, had to go off with a shoulder injury. Eventually a smart Fylde move put fly half Johnson in for a try that he failed to convert, snatching back the lead.
Park were dealt another blow when they returned to attack only for Charlie Gower to be sent to the bin for a deliberate knock-on. If that decision looked a little harsh, then they had sorely tried the referee’s patience leading up to it. A further body blow came as Park attacked to try to re-claim their lead only for Fylde winger Ben Rath to break fully 70 metres round the right of the visiting defence for a superb individual try, though the attempts to tackle him were not of the standard Park set for themselves. Johnson converted for 19-10.
Park were left playing catch-up rugby. Sneddon attempted a long range penalty to try to rescue a bonus point. Given a similar opportunity, Sam Katz got the distance but it went wide. By now Fylde’s tails were well up and a flowing move saw Arnold grab his second try for the bonus point in the last minute. Johnson converted for 26-10 and Park had to face the long journey home knowing they had been well beaten.
Park: Hodgkinson; Shabbo (Burns), Broughton, Gower, Vincent; Heeks; Sneddon (Katz); Ovens (McKenzie), Bellamy (Clarke), Liffchak; Inglis, Boyle (Starling); Ball, Shires, Ellis
Park scorers: Sneddon (P, C), Penalty try.
Rosslyn Park: 48 – Worthing Raiders:17
26/ 10/ 13
Rosslyn Park continued their outstanding start to the season at the Rock on Saturday by comprehensively beating league newcomers Worthing Raiders. With this win Park climb to second in the table and are now the only unbeaten team in the league.
The game got off to a cracking start. In the first ten minutes there was a try apiece and a conversion and penalty from the trusty boot of Scott Sneddon. As the match progressed after this hectic beginning the Worthing backs looked dangerous on the few occasions that they got anything like good ball but, as in last week’s match at Blackheath, the Park pack were utterly dominant in the tight. After rather a stalemate for twenty minutes or so there was suddenly fireworks again in the ten minutes leading up to half time.
After 31minutes a superb Park backs’ move, initiated by an incursion into the line by Pete Hodgkinson, just fell short when flying winger Dom Shabbo was forced into touch. From the line out Richard Boyle stole the Raiders’ throw in and on rumbled the pack for eventually Number 8 Hugo Ellis to score one of his trademark tries which Sneddon converted. The away side hit back quickly with a try by lock Simon Gaynor when their forwards gave Park a little of their own medicine with a determined driving maul. Govett converted but then with half time looming a fine passing movement by Park ended with centre Charlie Broughton smoothly accelerating through the defence to score a fine try.
Trailing by only ten points at the interval Worthing were still in the game but Park pretty much sealed their victory in the first few minutes of the second half.They were awarded a penalty try when the visitors could only halt yet another scrummage demolition job illegally. This was converted by Sneddon and was immediately followed by speedster Broughton intercepting a pass and running half the length of the field to score his second try of the afternoon.
The remainder of the match was rather an anti climax with Rosslyn Park firmly in control. The Raiders did defend bravely and from time to time put together an attacking threat but their only success was midway through the half when burly prop David Sargent barged his way over the line. In reply Park did rouse themselves to score two more converted tries before the end from Sneddon and Ellis to complete an excellent victory.
The home side are now starting to function well in all areas. Their scrummage seems to be capable of destroying any opposition and their back line is combining well with a combination of guile, organisation and real speed. Their real strength though is the ability and determination of all fifteen players to defend like demons. The only hiccup on Saturday was the occasional misplaced line out- a failing unusual in teams coached by Alex Codling-and something that I am sure will be robustly dealt with in training this week with the stern test of the visit to Fylde awaiting.
Rosslyn Park: P.Hodgkinson; D.Shabbo(Rep: E.Lewis-Pratt), C.Broughton, C.Gower, D.Vincent; S.Sneddon, J.Gash(Rep: M.Heeks); A.Liffchak, A.Bellamy(Rep: J.Clark),A.Mackenzie(Rep: A.Lundberg); J.Inglis(Rep: H.Broadbent),R.Boyle; L.Starling, S.Shires, H.Ellis.
Scorers: Tries: C.Broughton(2), H.Ellis(2), S.Sneddon, S.Shires, Pen Try. Conversions: S.Sneddon(5) Pens: S.Sneddon
Saturday 19th October 2013
Blackheath 8 - Rosslyn Park 21
Park continued their exciting start to the season at Rectory field with a convincing win over ancient rivals Blackheath. Key to their success was their magnificent pack who dominated the opposition in the set pieces- particularly in the scrummages where they regularly shunted the home eight backwards at a high rate of knots.
Apart from an occasional break out the first half was played in the Blackheath half with the home side defending desperately particularly in the scrum where they were simply overpowered. After nine minutes Blackheath offended in the front row and from the penalty and resultant catch and drive from the line out Sam Shires was carried over by the rest of the pack for the opening try. A few minutes later an almost identical sequence only was broken at the last minute by a careless knock on.
In the 34th minute scrum half Jack Gash went over for a text book try at a line out. Scott Sneddon had notched a penalty earlier but he failed to convert Gash’s try when the ball toppled from his tee at the last second and his quick thinking attempt at a drop sailed wide. Almost from the restart the referee, rather harshly it seemed, deemed that Aaron Liffchak was guilty of a ‘tip tackle’ in mid field and he was yellow carded. Any advantage though that ‘Club’ thought that they could gain from this was swiftly dashed when home flanker Dave Allen was sent to join Aaron in the ‘bin’ only minutes later.
Blackheath redoubled their efforts after the break and looked more dangerous when their lively back division had anything like good ball and the game for a while looked more even. Fly half Dave Marshall got them on the board with a penalty after twelve minutes of the half but then Park struck again from a scrum. Number 8 Hugo Ellis picked up at the back and ran superbly down the narrow side before slipping the ball to Jack Gash who gleefully registered his second try of the afternoon. 18-3 up with only ten minutes to go it was a surprise to the many Park supporters present that their side opted to kick an easy penalty through Scott Sneddon rather than opt for a kick to touch or a scrummage in pursuit of the fourth try and bonus point. A resurgence by Blackheath though for the rest of the game emphasised that they were still dangerous.
Urged on by their vociferous crowd Blackheath battered the Park line and only valiant defence kept them at bay. Reinforcements arrived in the substantial form of Lee Starling but he barely had time to get his knees dirty before he was despatched to the ‘bin’. Deep into added time Blackheath finally got some reward after a flurry of attacks resulted in live wire scrum half Jack Walsh going over for a try but it was too little, too lateand Park go marching on.
Park: P. Hodgkinson;D.Shabbo,C.Gower,H.Staff,D.Vincent;S.Sneddon,J.Gash; A.Liffchak (Rep: L.Ovens), A.Bellamy (Rep: J.Clark), A.MacKenzie; J.Inglis, R.Boyle (Rep: L.Starling); D.Ball, S.Shires, H.Ellis. Reps not used: J.Burns, S.Katz.
Park scorers: Tries: J.Gash (2), S.Shires. Pens: S.Sneddon (2)
Saturday 12th October 2013
Rosslyn Park 51 Wharfedale 20
A smart start by Park saw fly half Scott Sneddon kick an early penalty deep into the Wharfedale 22, only for a misunderstanding at the lineout to immediately surrender the advantage. It was not until the 7th minute that they got another chance, this time Sneddon steering the penalty kick between the posts for 3-0.
It was soon apparent that Wharfedale had not made the long trip from North Yorkshire just to make up the numbers and two minutes later it was Park who sinned and fly half Tom Barrett slotted over an equaliser.
If Park had a slight edge, it was only a slight one at this stage. Their best chance came with another penalty into the 22, but again they failed to exploit their own attacking line-out. Wharfedale responded well and a useful counter-attack saw home winger Dom Shabbo sent to the sin bin for the professional foul that might have saved something worse. Wharfedale took only five minutes to take advantage, setting up left winger Josh Prell to crash over in the very corner that Park’s absentee would have been marking. Barrett’s conversion attempt unluckily bounced out off the inside of the far post, but his side had an 8-3 lead on 23 minutes.
Park returned to the attack and Sneddon soon reduced the arrears to two points with another penalty. A kick to the corner saw scrum half Jack Gash nearly score from a cracking line-out ploy, then Park crossed the line but were held up. The referee had spotted visiting flanker Aaron Myers handling in the ruck, so he received a yellow card and Sneddon slotted over his third penalty for a 9-8 lead.
Suddenly Park clicked. Some really slick handling between Pete Hodgkinson and Hugo Ellis, and then on to Dave Vincent, saw the winger pin back his ears and sprint into the corner from close to half way. Sneddon missed a difficult conversion but was on the button three minutes later with a further penalty to establish a 17-8 home lead with three minutes to half-time.
Wharfedale, by no means giving up, launched a good attack but Park’s counter-attack was even better and very nearly brought a try. On the stroke of half time a really good team move from a line-out saw full-back Hodgkinson run on to the ball in space enough to score, Sneddon adding the conversion for 24-8 at the interval, a margin that gave scant value to the visitors’ contribution.
The home side started the second period where they had left off the first with a good attack right to the Wharfedale line with several unsuccessful pick and drives before the powerful Hugo Ellis forced his way over for 29-8.
Wharfedale then showed why their supporters call them the ‘Green Machine’ with a superb driving maul that forced Park backwards many metres at a brisk stroll before ‘Dale released the ball through several pairs of hands for centre Tom Davidson to score a superb team try by the posts, Barrett’s conversion pegging the score back to 29-15.
If that gave the visitors hope, Park – now buzzing – soon set about snuffing it out. A period of fairly relentless pressure culminated in Ellis picking up from the back of the scrum to release Hodgkinson, who in turn found Shabbo outside him and the winger forced his way over in the tackle for the 4-try bonus point. Sneddon’s conversion provided a cushion at 36-15.
With 20 minutes left coach Alex Codling rang the changes, emptying the bench. The fresh legs continued the pressure and replacement fly half Ed Lewis-Pratt accepted a simple penalty to increase the lead to 39-15 on 75 minutes. Steve Hamilton made a good run almost to the line, and the ball was worked wide where Lewis-Pratt dived over to add a try to his tally but could not quite make the conversion – 44-15.
Wharfedale never gave up and deserved the fine late try resulting from a quick tap penalty that saw flanker Myers get over for 44-20. Barrett took a quick token punt at the conversion, realising that his side had one minute to somehow fashion another try to pick up a bonus point.
Teams are rarely more vulnerable than when committed totally to attack, and so it proved on this occasion. Park soon had the ball and galloped to the other end where there was just time for one from each side to incur the referee’s displeasure and both be carded for professional fouls before Shabbo crashed over for his second try. Lewis Pratt’s conversion for 51-20 was the last kick of the match. The 51 points Park racked up was their highest score this season. What they should find very encouraging is that Wharfedale were certainly not the weakest opposition.
Park: Hodgkinson; Shabbo, Gower, Hamilton, Vincent; Sneddon (Lewis-Pratt); Gash (Burns); Ovens, Bellamy (Clarke); McKenzie (Ward); Ball, Boyle; Shires, Lonergan, Ellis (McDonald).
Park scorers: Shabbo (2T), Vincent (T), Hodgkinson (T), Ellis (T), Lewis-Pratt (T, P, C), Sneddon (4P, 2C)
Saturday 5th October 2013
Old Albanians 24 Rosslyn Park 27
A sensational finish saw Old Albanians at 24-27 down launching a last-ditch attack in which Park were penalised for a professional foul under their own posts. The resulting penalty, a formality and the last kick of the match, would have given the home side the 3 points they needed to draw. Bravely they gambled everything to go for the outright win and opted instead for a scrum, with Park reduced to 14 men as a result of the infringement. They tried to force a penalty try, but Park’s scrum held firm to claim the win. Exciting as it was, it really should not have come down to that.
For the first half hour Park had been almost embarrassingly the better side. Early pressure saw a penalty to give Sam Katz the chance to give his side an attacking line out. A further penalty on 5 minutes was accepted by the fly half to put his side 3-0 ahead.
OAs were under immense pressure, constantly penalised at the scrum and Park’s midfield defence strangling their moves almost at birth. When the home side finally mounted an attack they nearly paid a high price for their effrontery as Park winger Dave Vincent made a powerful counter attack, being halted only 5 metres from the home line. The attack continued until Park were penalised with the line apparently at their mercy. Then full-back Pete Hodgkinson was put through but the move had been spoiled by an earlier forward pass.
A sliced clearance under pressure gave Park a line-out on the home 22 and eventually the ball was spread to the right where winger Dom Shabbo sprinted to dive over on 15 minutes, Katz nailing the conversion for 10-10.
Old Albanians had a rare opportunity when gaining a penalty on half-way on 20 minutes, but Lawrence Rayner’s effort was well wide of the posts. The home side were still struggling hopelessly in the scrum and a penalty, more or less in front of the posts, was spurned by Katz to kick to the corner. Reward came when hooker Adam Bellamy got over from the resulting line-out, and Katz made a difficult conversion look easy for 17-0.
The visitors looked to be in cruise control, albeit without the points to reflect their superiority, but as the interval approached there were definite signs of an OA revival as they buckled down to try to force their way back into the match. On 38 minutes the home side gained a penalty on halfway, which they belted to the corner and drove over for Oliver Cooper-Miller to claim the try, Rayner adding a good conversion for 17-7. A ten point lead seemed to be a miserly return for Park’s contribution.
The visitors made the brighter start to the second half, soon winning a penalty in front of the posts, but Katz proved to be human and missed it. A great move from Park saw Hodgkinson cut in well inside the 22 but he was pinged for not releasing. OA countered and when Park were penalised on 46 minutes Rayner reduced the lead to a mere four points and Park were in a serious match.
Park returned to the attack, and following a line-out in OA territory scrum half Matt Heeks darted in to snipe a neat try, converted by Katz to put Park back into what looked safe territory with a 24-10 lead.
However, OA were not done yet. Gaining a penalty they again hoofed to the corner to set up the drive. This time Park’s defence was more obdurate, but as a result of forcing OA sideways rather than forward when OA did summon up the extra oomph to drive over they were near enough to the posts for Billy Johnson’s try that Rayner’s conversion was a doddle and at 24-17 Park still had more to do.
Things looked distinctly dodgy for the visitors when OA had another kick to the corner, but this time it was defended successfully and Park swept upfield on another promising attack, only to get themselves penalised inside the 22. They were soon back on the attack with several pick and drives at the line but what looked like a scoring pass was knocked on. OA were under immense pressure; a clearance kick from behind their own line hit the padding on the post, to spin tantalisingly on the ground in the in-goal area but a defender got there first and cleared their lines.
Park were soon back and won a penalty in easy kicking distance and Katz took the points on offer rather than go for the bonus point try, making it 27-17 with 15 minutes left.
The wisdom of that decision became apparent three minutes later when, aided and abetted by some uncharacteristically poor defending by Park OAs Christoff Lombard got round the outside of the defence on its right flank and went in close enough to the posts to give Rayner a comfortable conversion for 27-24 with twelve minutes left to play.
OA now looked a completely different team to the one that had struggled in the first half and tested Park to the limit as they went for an unlikely win. It ended in that last, failed gamble. Taken overall, Park deserved to win, and had they taken their chances would have won with something to spare – but OAs give them one hell of a fright.
Park: Hodgkinson; Shabbo, Street, Gower (Hamilton), Vincent; Katz; Heeks (Grant); Liffchak (Lundberg), Bellamy (Cobb) McKenzie; Inglis (McDonald), Boyle; Starling, Lonergan, Shires.
Park scorers: Shabbo (T), Bellamy (T), Heeks (T), Katz (2P, 3C)
Saturday 29th September 2013
Rosslyn Park 41 Blaydon 15
It was a case of ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ for Rosslyn Park on Saturday. It took a long time for them to find the right gear, but when they did they accelerated away from Blaydon with four tries in the last 30 minutes to bag their first bonus point of the season. That had not looked a likely prospect at the interval, when they led by 12 – 5 thanks to four penalties from full-back Sam Katz.
With the benefit of a stiff diagonal breeze in their favour, Park had far more attacking possession than did their visitors but failed to capitalise on promising moves. Katz kicked them to an early lead but narrowly missed another effort from the halfway line before adding a second penalty for 6-0.
The closest they came to a try was a darting run down the right by Dom Shabbo, but a defender managed to deflect his final pass to safety. Returning to the attack, Park claimed another penalty but Katz’ angled effort was narrowly wide.
Park’s midfield defence was first-rate, but when Blaydon did threaten the 22 they looked very dangerous. Fly half Andrew Baggett belted a penalty to touch and Park could not withstand a well-organised forwards’ push that saw flanker Rob Bell get over for 6-5 to put his side right back in it.
With Park still just about in control, but stuttering, Coach Alex Codling took the brave decision to replace his half-back pairing after only 25 minutes. Katz moved from full-back to fly half in place of Sam Sneddon (Pete Hodgkinson replacing the full-back) while Jordan Burns took over scrum half duties from Matt Heeks. Park were immediately back on the attack, still unable to cross the Blaydon line but two further Katz penalties gave them a 12-5 lead to take into the interval. That looked potentially a pretty fragile lead, though, with Blaydon finding themselves only 7 points in arrears and due to have the elements in their favour.
Blaydon duly emerged fired-up from the break and almost from the restart gained – but missed – an eminently kickable penalty, but were soon back and this time Baggett made no mistake to reduce the arrears to 12-8.
Park finally made their approach work count after 50 minutes when a sweeping move saw Charlie Gower go over with Katz adding a good conversion for 19 – 8.
Blaydon, though, were not yet out of it and enjoyed a good spell of possession, but when Park countered prop Robert Kalbraier prevented them from releasing the ball and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the yellow card. Katz extracted the full price by converting the penalty into another three points.
Despite this setback, the visitors were next on the scoreboard when a smart attack saw centre Tom Bramwell get over close to the posts and Baggett’s conversion pulled it back to 22-15.
But Park now found a confidence in attack that had hitherto deserted them and completely dominated the final 20 minutes. First a superb run by Charles Broughton set up fellow-winger Dom Shabbo to cruise in on the right, Katz nailing a great conversion for 29-15.
Another good move saw the ball quickly spread for centre Henry Staff to sprint over for 34-15. A superb move involving Katz, Hodgkinson and Charlie Gower split the Blaydon defence, winning a penalty from some desperate defence. Park opted to scrummage, Blaydon offended at the scrum and a quick tap penalty saw number 8 Sam Shires dart over.
Another magnificent touchline conversion from Katz took his personal points haul to 21 and brought with it the final whistle at 41-15.
Park: Katz; Shabbo, Staff, Gower, Broughton; Sneddon (Hodgkinson); Heeks (Burns); Ovens, Bellamy (Cobb), Ward (Graham); Ball, Boyle; Starling, Lonergan (McDonald), Shires.
Park scorers: Gower (T), Shabbo (T), Staff (T), Shires (T), Katz (5P, 3C).
Saturday 21st September
Henley Hawks 6 Rosslyn Park 6
By Bob Evans
In a bruising attritional affair at Dry Leas Rosslyn Park shared the spoils with old rivals Henley. A feature of the game was the rock solid defence of both teams and whilst Park enjoyed a superiority in possession and territory Henley always looked dangerous on the break.
Park dominated play in the first quarter but stout defensive work by the home side kept them at bay. As often happens though in these circumstances the side under the cosh surprisingly took the lead. Henley’s Danny Wells had given a warning after ten minutes when his penalty from just inside the Park half narrowly missed and two minutes later he made no mistake with his kick from a similar position.
The rather harsh yellow carding of Henley’s outside half Tom Allen after 16 minutes when he upended Paul Mackey heaped further pressure on the home side but after 21 minutes their depleted but spirited efforts got near to the Park line for the first time and they were only kept at bay by a superb defensive scrum.
Park’s Number eight, captain and talisman Hugo Ellis was forced to leave the pitch with a painful looking hip injury after 25 minutes and shortly after Henley suffered a similar blow when, after lengthy treatment, prop Dave Manning was stretchered off with what looked like a suspected broken leg.
The half closed with more fierce exchanges near the Henley line and the Park side headed for the break with frustration and unbelief that they were still behind.
The second half opened with renewed Park pressure and a series of scrummages saw Henley finally give way when Sam Katz equalised with a penalty.
Park’s back division were now seeing more of the ball and perhaps the crucial moment in the game came after 14 minutes of the half. Pressure from the pack led to a flowing movement in the backs ending in Dom Shabbo going over in the corner. However the touch judge ruled that Dom’s foot in touch had come before the ball was grounded and the chance for the breakthrough had gone.
At the scrummage Park were now dominating and after five successive scrums had been halted by some sort of Henley offence Sam Katz slotted the inevitable penalty. Extended pressure though failed to increase the lead and very much against the run of play Henry Staff was penalised for a yellow card offence and Wells equalised with the resultant long range penalty effort .
In the last ten minutes of the game, amazingly after the battering they had endured throughout, Henley willed themselves into a greater attacking impetus and Park supporters started to fear that despite all their team’s efforts they could still suffer defeat. However once more unyielding defence held firm and the final whistle came with the sides still locked in a draw.
Rosslyn Park: P. Hodgkinson; D.Shabbo, H.Staff, P.Mackey (Rep: C.Broughton), D.Vincent: S.Katz, J.Gash (Rep: M.Heeks); L.Ovens, A.Bellamy, L.Ward; J.Inglis, R.Boyle; L.Starling, S.Shires, H.Ellis (Rep: D.Ball). Reps not used: T.Cobb, J.Graham.
Rosslyn Park scorer: S.Katz 2pens.
SATURDAY 14th SEPTEMBER
Rosslyn Park 26 Richmond 15
Rosslyn Park will be pleased enough to have started the season with two wins out of two, including this 26-15 win over local rivals Richmond, but will surely be regretting the handling errors that prevented them pocketing the 4-try bonus point they could and should have had.
An early clearance kick from Dom Shabbo saw Richmond penalised on their own 10 metre line to allow fly half Sam Katz to kick Park to an early 3-0 lead.
Returning to the attack, Park forced a scrum outside the Richmond 22 but the visitors stole the ball, only to pass back into their own 22 and kick directly to touch, but redeemed themselves by defending well. A good Park attack was spoilt by their own poor handling before another smart attack saw winger Dave Vincent come close to scoring. Stopping him cost Richmond a penalty which Katz slotted over for 6-0.
Richmond were dealt an early blow when centre Matt Keville was carried off with a broken leg. As Richmond attacked they were sent back by a fine kick towards the corner from Katz, who then intercepted the ball as the visitors ran back, crashing into their 22. A good run by centre Charlie Gower split the defence to send in his centre partner Henry Staff to make the score 11-0. An excellent touchline conversion from Katz made it 13-0 on 18 minutes.
If Park held a distinct advantage in terms of attacking possession, then Richmond were still making them work very hard for their lead and were rewarded when a smart move up the left saw full-back Tom Platt supporting well to nip in for a try, converted by Louis Grimoldby to peg the score back to 13-7.
As both sides scrapped for the ball in midfield a fight broke out between the two number 5s: it was more handbags-at-ten-paces than Ali v Frazier and a more experienced referee might have just spoken to the skippers, but both men went to the sin bin. However, Richmond initially looked a bit brighter at 14-a-side and Grimoldby landed a penalty to reduce the home lead to 13-10.
Park counter-attacked and when Richmond’s remaining lock, skipper Will Warden, felled Charlie Gower with a high tackle he was shown yellow and the visitors were left with only 13 men. Park strove to make it tell as Katz hammered the penalty to the corner and his team massed on the line. The pressure was immense but the visitors’ defence was magnificent and somehow they held out. There was just time for Park to win another penalty but this time Katz’ kick was marginally wide, and for all their possession the home side took only a 3 point lead into the dressing room with them.
Park started the second period well. Vincent sprinted round the defence up the left but put a foot in touch. The scoreboard was soon ticking over, though, as Katz added another penalty for 16-10.
When Richmond were driven off their own scrum Park won another penalty, which Katz kicked to touch inside the opposing 22. Vincent had every chance of scoring but again a poor pass stopped a likely score. It was a blow when Park lost lock Will Bowley with an arm injury, necessitating skipper Darrell Ball moving into the second row, Lee Starling coming on to replace him. But they continued to look for a score and were rewarded when a superb run and pass from Vincent sent in replacement scrum-half Jordan Burns for a cracking try for 21-10.
Gower was in the wars again and had to leave the field with a nasty facial cut. Park still held the whip hand but again let themselves down by mis-handling when they had a clear overlap. Park’s excellent mid-field defence left Richmond feeding off scraps in terms of genuine scoring opportunities, but they were more clinical than their hosts when they had them. A penalty saw them gain a line-out in the corner and, where Park had huffed and puffed against a reduced pack, they drove straight over, flanker Chris Davies claiming the try for 21-15.
The visitors’ hopes were soon cancelled out when a powerful run by Vincent beat a number of defenders for the try of the match to make it 26-15 with less than 10 minutes to go. Park very nearly bagged the bonus point too with a decisive-looking move up the right, but again they let themselves down with the final pass with the line begging.
Park: Hodgkinson; Shabbo, Staff, Gower (Lamont), Vincent; Katz; Heeks (Burns); Lundberg, Bellamy, Ward; Bowley (Starling), Boyle; Ball, Shires, Ellis.
Subs not used: Clark, Graham.
Park scorers: Staff (T), Burns (T), Vincent (T) Katz (3P, C)
SATURDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER
Cinderford 6 Rosslyn Park 11
A real nail-biter to start the season off, with two superbly drilled defences dominating affairs. Rosslyn Park deserved to shade it, having enjoyed considerably more attacking possession, but it took a late try from replacement Lee Starling to secure the spoils, and the match could have gone either way right up to the final whistle.
Park had slightly better of the early exchanges, won a free-kick at the first scrum on 5 minutes, which led to a penalty, but fly half Sam Katz’ kick shaved the near post on the wrong side. The visitors continued to have the better of exchanges until a penalty on 12 minutes allowed Cinderford a line-out around the Park 22. They moved the ball across the field but lost control of it and hacked it over the dead ball line.
The visitors replied with a superb attack of their own up their right flank, to very nearly get in at the corner but were eventually penalised for not releasing.
The deadlock was eventually broken on 21 minutes when Cinderford, with the advantage of the wind, hoisted a clearance which Park full-back Peter Hodgkinson did well to field cleanly, but he was isolated and left with little option but to cling onto the ball. Cinderford fly half Mark Davies thumped the long range penalty straight through the middle for 3-0.
Rosslyn Park still had slightly the better of the play, but the home defence was superb. Winger Dom Shabbo had a good run up the right but was forced into touch 5 metres from the line. After winning a home line-out a good move up the left saw a powerful run from skipper Darrell Ball nearly bear fruit. Just as it seemed that half-time would intervene, Cinderford were penalised for coming in from the side. Katz gratefully accepted the 3 points to send his side into the interval on level terms.
The second half began in a heavy shower, and a huge Rosslyn Park attack saw them lay siege inside the home 22 for fully five minutes. They showed great patience in keeping up the pressure, but again the Cinderford defence rose to the occasion superbly and simply would not allow a way through. Eventually, the ball spilled forward but Park out-scrummaged Cinderford – no mean achievement in itself – to win it back. Eventually Park were pinged for not releasing and the ball was cleared.
Cinderford made a smart looking counter-attack but star winger Codlin could not control a slippery ball. However, Park eventually sinned and another Davies long-range penalty put his side ahead by 6-3.
Park immediately returned to the attack, won a penalty of their own to bring the score back to 6-6.
The visitors returned to another all-out attack, but again the defence rose to the occasion. A high kick out of defence saw scrum half Matt Heeks display immense skill – and not a little courage – in fielding the ball with opponents bearing down on him but was pinged by the referee for not releasing. This time the distance defeated Davies, whose kick never looked like bisecting the posts.
A sickening, completely accidental, clash saw Park winger Dom Shabbo assisted from the field, forcing Heeks to move to the wing and Callum Grant to come on at scrum half. The excellent Harry Broadbent also bowed out of proceedings to be replaced by Lee Starling. Cinderford gained a scrum in the Park 22, but it was now the visitors’ turn to demonstrate excellence in defence.
When Park broke out it proved lethal as they camped on the line in Cinderford’s right corner. Again the home side defended superbly but they had no answer to the sheer power of Lee Starling who forced his way over with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Cinderford threw everything they had at trying to rescue the match, but Park were able to meet every call on their defensive resources. If Head Coach Alex Codling wanted a hard test for his men in their first League outing, then Cinderford certainly provided that and more.
Park: Hodgkinson; Shabbo, Simpson, Staff, Vincent; Katz; Heeks; Liffchak, Bellamy, McKenzie; Boyle, Bowley; Ball, Broadbent, Shires.
Subs: Clark, Lundberg, Starling, Grant, Sneddon.
Park scorers: Starling (T), Katz (2P)