ROSSLYN PARK 17-21 RAMS
Saturday 20 January
By RHYS STRATTON
The 1st XV fell to defeat at The Rock on Saturday as Rams secured a comeback win in the dying seconds.
A tight, back-and-forth first half saw both sides have a similar amount of possession, territory, and chances, but ultimately it was the 1st XV who were able to capitalise on their opportunities. Park opened the scoring within 10 minutes with an incredible score that began with a Matt Gordon interception deep in his own territory. Some sublime hands followed involving almost half the team as play quickly moved down into the final third before Rams could eventually recover into somewhat of a defensive shape. Nevertheless, a well worked move in the opposition 22 unlocked the defence once more and resulted in Craig Stevenson crossing over in the corner.
A lengthy period of half-chances and missed opportunities followed, with possession changing hands regularly thanks to multiple infringements from both sides. Rams winger Henry Bird was finally shown a yellow card for a high tackle on his own line that drew shouts for a penalty try, however these were ultimately waved away by the officials. Following the sin-binning, the visitors were initially able to prevent a score and clear, but Park were soon back on the attack and doubled the lead thanks to a sumptuous finish out wide by Tom Stanton who dotted down in the corner under pressure from multiple defenders.
Early in the second half, Park got a third unanswered try when Rams were pressured into a knock on in midfield. The loose ball was hacked on into the opposition 22 and Benji Marfo outraced everyone to gather in the ball and cross over.
With the visitors now desperate to regain their footing in the contest, they began to open up their attacking game. This more expansive approach quickly yielded results as a break on the left wing into the home 22 resulted in a yellow card for the covering Gordon. Rams duly headed into the corner and pulled a try back through Max Hayman as their driving maul rumbled over the line.
Despite all the momentum now seemingly with Rams, it was Park who next came closest to scoring when Max Trimble got on the end of a loose ball following a Park kick into the opposition 22. The substitute gathered in the ball and dotted it down, but play was pulled back for a knock on, and the try was scrubbed off. Then, just minutes after being restored to the full complement of 15, another unfortunate yellow card was shown to Park as Josh Bragman was deemed to have infringed deep in his own 22. In what was a phenomenal defensive stand, the 1st XV were able to turn the ball over and temporarily clear their lines, but Rams soon made the most of the man advantage with a brilliant break down the left hand side by Calum Scott who fed Zach Clow for the score.
A tortuous final 10 minutes followed as waves of Rams attack were resisted by a fierce Park defence, but the visitors wouldn’t go away. Park looked to have won the match as they held Rams up over the tryline with just seconds left to play, but an infringement following the dropout allowed the Reading side to head to the corner. A 12-man maul then rumbled its way over the line with the clock in the red and secured the unlikeliest of comebacks.
Referee: Ben Rayner
Tries: Stevenson (7’), Stanton (37’), Marfo (44’)
Conversions: Bragman (45’)
Yellow Cards: Matt Gordon (52’), Bragman (66’)
Team: Cade, Cameron, Hay, Stevenson, Spencer, Martin, Hosking, Bolwell, Fenley, Bragman, Marfo, Gordon, Stanton, Walker, Smith
Replacements: Miller, Pieterse, Garvey, Hiscocks, Trimble
Tries: Hayman (55’, 80’), Clow (68’)
Conversions: Honey (56’, 70’, 80’)
Yellow Cards: Bird (33’)
Team: Marris, Hayman, Baker, C. Stapley, Swain, Hoyt, Atkins, R Stapley, Hoadley, Honey, Clow, Humberstone, Kalling-Smith, Bird, Makepeace-Cubbit
Replacements: Scott, Englezos, McRae, Monye, Grundy
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Bishop’s Stortford P – P Richmond
Chinnor P – P Sedgley Park
Darlington Mowden Park P – P Blackheath
Leicester Lions P – P Plymouth Albion
Sale FC P – P Cinderford
Taunton Titans 15 – 34 Birmingham Moseley
This week in National One saw only one other match take place thanks to freezing cold conditions. In that match, Birmingham Moseley secured a bonus point win away from home at Taunton.
Up Next for Park is a trip up North to take on Sedgley Park.