Rugby Result: Rosslyn Park 20 Blaydon 15
Bonus point secured in thrilling but tough encounter
A thrilling match that was every bit as close as the score suggests. Park dominated the first half and probably should have been out of sight by the interval. A very smart second half from Blaydon stretched Park to the limit but they held out for a bonus point win that they just about deserved.
Park dominated the play from the start and a sound-looking Blaydon defence was split after only 5 minutes when a superb run from flanker Max Northcote-Green pierced it through the heart to find scrum half Luke Carter in support for 5-0. Fly half Tom Whelan could not quite make the conversion.
From the re-start Park gained a scrum and soon had a penalty to the corner, but the throw was not straight.
The home side were dictating, but got into a mess within range of their own posts to give Blaydon a penalty which fly half Andrew Baggett accepted to bring the scores to 5-3 on 12 minutes.
Park hardly blinked and went further ahead three minutes later with a super try. Centre Mark Ireland was the engineer with a great run through the centre, taken on by centre Nev Edwards to score wide of the posts for 10-3.
The home side were playing most of the rugby, but passing movements from deep in their own territory encountered a determined and well-organised midfield defence that kept real chances at a premium.
Winger Kiba Richards had a good run through, but what might have been a scoring pass was knocked on. A scrum in front of the posts looked promising but Park could not finish the move. Joe Ajuwa made some powerful runs and Richards was often involved but Park simply could not turn their dominance into points on the board.
With 5 minutes to the interval, after another sophisticated passing movement it was the battering ram of Ajuwa that cracked it, leading to another good run from Ireland to provide Carter with his second try.
Park may have felt a 12 point half-time lead was scant reward for their considerable efforts, but they looked to be in no real danger of not comfortably securing the 5-point win they needed. Blaydon had other ideas and changed to their more traditional game, which involves the educated boot of Baggett kicking them to attacking positions to set up their very effective maul. It very nearly worked.
Blaydon bagged an early penalty, but on a poor day for kickers Baggett’s kick slid wide.
The visitors put in another good attack, driving close to the line before Park summoned a supreme effort to push them into touch. But Blaydon returned with a super maul up the right that won a penalty. The kick went long to provide relief for Park.
Blaydon came again with a terrific attack pressing on the 5 metres line. They won another penalty at the scrum, hoofed to the corner and a good maul led to flanker Jason Smithson going over. Again the conversion was missed, but at 15-8 the match was now anything but over.
Park needed to respond and did. Blaydon knocked on replacement fly-half Scott Sneddon’s restart kick to concede a scrum deep in their own territory. Park put together some good passing and when Ajuwa came onto the ball with speed and power there was only going to be one result. The try put his side 20-8 ahead and secured the 4-try bonus, but Sneddon could not make the kick, for the fifth unconverted try of the match.
Park put together a super move up the right, but eventually the ball was spilled.
Back came Blaydon, Park were pinged at a scrum and the inevitable boot to the corner followed. Blaydon set up their powerful maul. Park’s defence did well to repel the initial surge, but back they came and it was flanker Tom Bramwell who touched down. Baggett nailed possibly the most difficult conversion of the match for 20-15 with nine minutes left.
Park kept their heads and – more importantly – the ball. As they moved it around in the Blaydon half, number 8 Mike Macfarlane was taken out high to give Park a difficult penalty that would have left the visitors needing more than a converted try. Sneddon opted for safety to kick to the corner and run down the clock.
Park were tempted into a little bit of last minute ambition and nearly over-reached themselves when Blaydon gained possession. But when Macfarlane skilfully caught the clearance kick over his shoulder his team played down the final seconds before booting the ball out of play to claim the spoils.
Park’s 4-try win keeps them in third place in National 1. Next Saturday they make the long trip to North Yorkshire to play Wharfedale.
Park: Edwards; Richards, Ireland, Mackey, Ajuwa; Whelan; Carter; Liffchak, Wooolstencroft, MacKenzie; Inglis, Bowley; Northcote-Green, Broadbent, Macfarlane.
January 26, 2015