MATCH REPORT: Bishop’s Stortford vs Rosslyn Park

BISHOP’S STORTFORD 21-27 ROSSLYN PARK

SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY

By RHYS STRATTON

Saturday in Hertfordshire saw a real arm-wrestle between two good sides as the lead changed hands on five separate occasions. Max Craven slotted in at fly-half for Saturday’s clash, taking over from Josh Bragman and Luc Smith who had started the last two fixtures before both pulling up with injuries. The 10 stepped up and had a solid outing, marshalling the game well and slotting two conversions and a penalty from the tee. With the boggy conditions favouring a forward-oriented gameplan, the pack stepped up big time in the contest. Both the scrum and lineout functioned as dangerous weapons, with multiple scrum penalties won and two of the tries scored from the back of driving mauls. The pack were excellent in open play as well, providing a real threat over the ball, with captain Arthur Ellis leading the way in that regard, and the likes of Jordan Martin and Archie Hosking consistently getting across the gain-line. The win was a key one for Park as losses for Moseley, Plymouth, Richmond and DMP now see the 1st XV rise to 4th in the table just 4 points behind 3rd placed Moseley.

The hosts got off to a quick start as an early penalty in their favour gave them the chance to set up a maul deep in the final third which Harrison Langworthy rode over the line. The 1st XV finally settled into the match after this and a few quick penalties against Stortford provided the Park pack the platform to set up a maul of their own. Spotting a gap in the defence at the edges of the lineout, scrumhalf Dan Hiscocks broke away from the back of the maul, darted through the gap and crossed over. Soon after, a scrum penalty won by the pack and a high tackle by the hosts set up yet another lineout in the 22 which the backline used to run a slick set-piece move sending Joe Luca Smith across the whitewash. In the final quarter of the first half, Stortford found themselves knocking at the door, deep in Park territory, but a dogged defensive effort kept driving them back. After being driven back all the way outside of the 22, the chance looked to have gone begging, but after a quick reset of their attacking shape fullback Nick Hankin was able to slip through a gap and re-take the lead heading into the break.

In the second half, the lead continued to change hands as Issac Miller edged Park ahead once more as he steered a powerful driving maul over the line, before Stortford answered back with a set-piece move finished off by the captain James Ayrton. With 15 minutes left, a penalty against the hosts saw Max Craven step up and slot a penalty, establishing yet another Park lead, but this time it was one the 1st XV would not relinquish for the rest of the contest. In the final 10, another penalty won at scrum time led to a Jasper Cameron maul try which extended the lead and, despite a late push by the hosts, provided enough cushion for Park to hold on and secure the hard-earned victory.

Referee: Neil Sweeney

ROSSLYN PARK

Tries: Hiscocks (9’), Smith (21’), Miller (46’), Cameron (74’)
Conversions: Craven (22’, 47’)
Penalties: Craven (66’)
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: Matt Gordon (80′)

Team: Cade, Miller, Hay, Martin, Gillanders, Hosking, Ellis, Bolwell, Hiscocks, Craven, Marfo, Gordon, Stanton, Walker, Smith

Replacements: Cameron, Pieterse, Stevenson, Fenley, Glover

BISHOP’S STORTFORD

Tries: Langworthy (2’), Hankin (33’), Ayrton (59’)
Conversions: Walker (3’, 34’, 60’)
Penalties: N/A
Yellow Cards: N/A

Team: Brownhill, Rayment, Peck, Kiff, Charter, Langworthy, Jones, Rogers, Lloyd, Walker, Smith, Ayrton, Mills, Morris, Hankin

Replacements: Bury, Hill, Pope, Bolton, Biard

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Blackheath 34 – 12 Plymouth Albion
Chinnor 80 – 10 Taunton Titans
Cinderford 40 – 34 Richmond
Darlington Mowden Park 14 – 28 Rams
Leicester Lions 36 – 17 Sedgley Park
Sale FC 37 – 31 Birmingham Moseley

This week in National One saw Rams join Park as the only side to pick up wins away from home as they saw off the challenge from DMP. Elsewhere, Blackheath, Chinnor, Cinderford, Leicester and Sale all put up big scores in home victories with Chinnor’s 80-10 win over Taunton being the standout performance of the round.

Up Next for Park is a clash with Leicester Lions at The Rock on the 9th. Match tickets are on sale here.