BLACKHEATH 0-15 ROSSLYN PARK
SATURDAY 9TH DECEMBER
By RHYS STRATTON
The 1st XV held Blackheath scoreless at Well Hall in the penultimate match of the year to make it 5 wins from the last 6.
It was clear from the outset of the match that the powerful, swirling wind was going to play a big part in the game and the opening few minutes demonstrated this. It was a cagey affair early on as Blackheath (who were playing into the wind) attempted to mitigate the weather’s impact by keeping ball in hand and not allowing Park to put boot to ball in dangerous areas.
Eventually, the 1st XV were able to get a hold of possession and enter Blackheath territory for the first time where they remained for a significant portion of the half. During this period the pack won their first of three scrum penalties on the day after having forced a handling error on the Blackheath 10m line. Josh Bragman stepped up for a shot at goal from the penalty, but quickly learned that the wind had made kicking from the tee nigh on impossible and the ball was pushed into the upright before bouncing wide. Park remained on the offensive following the goal-line dropout, though, and spent the next several minutes deep in Blackheath territory. Unfortunately, the hosts first held the ball up over their line then later on got a last gasp turnover inside the 5m to prevent an opening score and momentarily relieve some of that pressure.
However, this didn’t last long and a clever Dan Hiscocks box-kick caused chaos for the Blackheath back-three leading to a loose ball that was scooped up and ran in by the lightning-quick Benji Marfo.
With Blackheath continuing to find themselves struggling to exit from their own 22 due to the strong headwind, Park relentlessly pinned them back with deep kicks and waited for an opportunity to inevitably arise.
The chance finally came when a poor clearing kick landed in the arms of Patrick Kelly who sparked a counterattack which saw the ball worked down the line into the hands of Marfo once more. The winger found himself with enough space to outpace the drift to his inside before coolly beating the covering defender to dot down for a first half brace.
Following the try, Blackheath managed to regain a foothold in the contest and spend some time outside of their own half, however it was Park who came closest to getting the next score. First, some powerful carrying following a lineout in Blackheath territory brought play down inside the 5m line, but another crucial penalty won by the hosts on their own line prevented the score. Then, as the half was drawing to a close, an Austin Hay turnover just inside his own 10m line provided the opportunity for Bragman to put the ball in behind the hosts. Several Park runners were in pursuit of the ball and had streaked ahead of the retreating Blackheath defence, but the wind picked up and carried it dead before anyone could get their hands to it and touch it down.
In the second half, with the wind now at their backs, Blackheath attempted to implement the same kicking game that Park had frustrated them with throughout the first- half. However, thanks to some brilliant work from the boot, the Park backline were able to keep play mostly in the middle of the park. Eventually, a Blackheath knock-on was punished with another scrum penalty and Park were able to work their way deep into opposition territory before Captain Arthur Ellis eventually crashed over the line with a powerful carry.
Blackheath spent the remainder of the match chasing that elusive first score, but, despite Park losing Dan Hiscocks to the sin bin, some brilliant game management as well as an immense defensive stand on the tryline meant they ultimately came up empty handed.
Referee: Jamie Parr
Yellow Cards: N/A
Rosslyn Park: Holland, Walliker, Boye, Stradwick, Taylor, Schroter, Leonard, Baldwin, Daly, Cooke, Armstrong, Burcham, Tucker Lloyd, Noot
Replacements: Witchell, Owlett, Foley, Bell, Fielding
Tries: Marfo (12’, 22’), Ellis (52’)
Yellow Cards: Hiscocks (68’)
Rosslyn Park: Garvey, Terry, Hay, Stevenson, Spencer, Bolwell, Ellis, Wrafter, Hiscocks, Bragman, Marfo, Gordon, Kelly, Addams, Smith
Replacements: Cameron, Cade, Martin, Baldwin, Walker
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Chinnor 27 – 24 Birmingham Moseley
Cinderford 40 – 31 Taunton Titans
Darlington Mowden Park 29 – 3 Leicester Lions
Plymouth Albion 22 – 3 Sedgley Park
Richmond 40 – 47 Rams
Sale FC 8 – 7 Bishop’s Stortford
Matchweek 13 in National One saw Rams join Park as the only sides to win away from home as the league leaders overcame Richmond at The RAG. Elsewhere, Chinnor, Cinderford, DMP, Plymouth and Sale all record home wins with the latter two sides the only of that group to miss out on picking up a bonus-point while doing so.
Up Next for Park is another London derby, as a clash against rivals Richmond awaits us at The Rock next Saturday. Tickets are on sale here.