Kieran Power hailed Rosslyn Park’s defensive performance in an incredible London derby win against Richmond to tighten the title race.
Dan Laventure’s break was the winning moment for the home side in front of a 2,000-strong crowd at The Rock. Craig Holland and Paul Doran-Jones got on the scoreboard to keep ahead of Richmond despite Tom Hodgson’s kicking.
Director of Rugby Power said: “When you get two local teams on a Friday night, it’s always going to be a great game. It was always going to be a tight game - they’re a very good side.
We were a little bit tired after our exploits against Chinnor but the boys raised their game and showed some great courage. Ultimately, they took control of the catch-and-drive maul game. It dictated our play and put them on the back foot.
We know we’ve got a good defence. Sometimes our defence lets us down and we gave away too many penalties that kept them in the game."
Richmond’s Director of Rugby Steve Hill was left feeling frustrated.
“Rosslyn Park were definitely the better side in the first half but I thought we came back really well in the second,” he said.
“We had a lot of territory and possession but one or two inaccuracies in that final third let us down. At 14-12, I thought we could drive to the line but these things happen. Park were more accurate than us, so hats off to them.
The guys wanted to win this game but that second half performance meant we only gave away three points.”
Hodgson put the visitors ahead after nine minutes with a penalty from a collapsed scrum, finding the posts 20 metres out.
But Park’s pack got them rolling four minutes later, Dave Lewis feeding Holland from deep as the club’s top scorer side-stepped two tackles for the line.
Richmond’s No.10 had another penalty on 17 minutes after a failure to bind from a long line-out, scoring from the 22. The rest of the half belonged to Park as their defence forced the league’s top side inside their own 10-metre line. And the reward came in the last move of the game after five minutes of driving, Doran-Jones leaping over the line.
It was all Richmond four minutes after the restart – and their aggressive attack won a penalty for not releasing under the posts, Hodgson getting a hat-trick. The visitors closed the gap to two points on 55 minutes with another penalty for the top scorer in the same position.
Park edged their way back in, though, and a break at the maul from Hugo Ellis fed Laventure to smash his way over the line under the Friday night lights.
Rosslyn Park Tries: Holland 13, Doran-Jones 40, Laventure 73 Conversions: Penalties: Holland 14, 40 Sin Bins:
Replacements: Charlie Gibbings for Grimstone 33; Charlie Mulchrone for Lynagh 40; Tom Pashley for Parker 47; David Banfield for Walford 71; Ryan Nixon for Bibic 73; Parker for Boyce 73
Attendance: 2000 Referee: Alex Thomas HT: 14-6 Star Man: Dan Laventure – Rosslyn Park
Cambridge 13-12 Birmingham Moseley Canterbury 24-15 Hull Ionians Cinderford 21-16 Blackheath Old Elthamians 15-31 Rams Plymouth Albion 34-27 Darlington Mowden Park Rosslyn Park 19-12 Richmond Rotherham Titans 24-31 Bishop’s Stortford Sale 22-19 Chinnor
National League 1 table
Rosslyn Park’s London derby win over Richmond cuts the gap at the top to seven points, with Steve Hill’s side keeping hold of a losing bonus point.
Chinnor’s loss to Sale means they are now five points behind Kieran Power’s side.
Rams keep up the pressure on the Thame-based team with a bonus-point win, sitting one point behind with a game in hand.
Blackheath remain fifth despite losing but Plymouth Albion are now just two points behind them. The Brickfields side’s bonus-point win over Darlington Mowden Park saw them overtake the most northern team into sixth, with both on 75 points.
Old Elthamians stay eighth but are feeling the pressure from Cambridge, whose one-point win over Birmingham Moseley cuts the gap between the teams to one point.
Cinderford’s win over Blackheath also sees them increase the squeeze on the top half, three points the Volac Park side in 10th. With three games in hand, bonus-point win could put them in the top five.
Bishop’s Stortford cut the gap on the Gloucestershire side to two points with a win on the road to Rotherham Titans.
Sale battled to a win over Chinnor, staying on the Silver Leys side’s coattails at 59 points. It also meant they move 15 points clear of Birmingham Moseley, who are being drawn into a relegation battle against Titans as two bonus points puts the Yorkshire side just four points behind.
Canterbury’s first win in 11 games puts them five points ahead of bottom side Hull Ionians.
Hull Ionians preview
Park have a two-week break before heading up north to face National League 1’s bottom side Hull Ionians.
After losing a relegation scrap 24-15 against Canterbury, another season in National League 2 North is soon beckoning.
It is just over two years since Park last visited Brantingham Park, losing a tight affair 27-26 thanks to Greg Lound’s last-minute drop goal.