Rugby Result: Rosslyn Park 45 Coventry 50

A game of two halves with a penalty decider in the last two minutes of the match

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A superb, thrilling match of attacking rugby saw Coventry destroy Park in the first half with the best display they have faced all season to take an apparently unassailable 34-7 lead. Park came roaring back to lead by 45-40 with six minutes to go, only to lose it in the final two minutes.

A re-vamped Coventry side, with newly-appointed player / coach All Black International Scott Hamilton at full back, tore into Park from the start and won a penalty on 3 minutes converted by man-of-the-match fly half Matt Jones for 3-0.

Park gained a scrum in the ‘Cov’ half, but the warning signs immediately flashed when the visitors took the ball against the most dependable pack in the division. However, Park asserted themselves with a great 40 metre run by winger Adam Field, who found full-back Nev Edwards in support and the ball was whipped on for right winger Kiba Richards to finish off a great move. Scott Sneddon’s conversion made it 7-3 on 9 minutes.

That had been against the run of play. Coventry were in rampant mood and 5 minutes later, Jones floated a long kick wide to winger Dan Rundle, in oceans of space who ran in to score. Jones converted for 10-7.

Park were not entirely out of the game, but when a good move saw them lose the ball out wide, Coventry hit them again with a great try, Rundle breaking at speed and passing on for Hamilton to score. Jones again converted for 17-7 on 21 minutes.

The visitors threw everything at Park, knocking-on when it would have been easier to score. They maintained the pressure and, following a scrum, flanker Danny Wright barrelled over, Jones again converting for 24-7.

Three minutes later Cov again took a scrum, gaining a penalty for Jones to extend the lead to 27-7.

Almost from the restart, Park blundered badly. Attempting to break up the right they simply dropped the ball for visiting centre Rob Knox to swoop and scamper to the line, Jones again converting for 34-7 0n 32 minutes.

Park made a big effort to come back, gaining a kickable penalty but Sneddon was asked to kick to touch. Park won the throw, set up a maul and skipper Hugo Ellis peeled off to plunge over. That made it 12-34 on 38 minutes.

However, Jones insisted on having the last say nailing a penalty on the stroke of half-time to send Coventry in with a 12-37 lead.

Park had a mountain to climb in the second half, and soon set about building a base camp in the Coventry half. A kickable penalty was propelled to the corner, again Hugo Ellis peeled off from the resulting maul, this time to give the pass for Richards’ second try. Sneddon hit a great conversion for 19-37 on 44 minutes.

A similar situation saw lock Kieran Treadwell make a good catch and set from the lineout. Park drove and Mike Macfarlane got over to allow Sneddon a further display of his touchline kicking skills for 26-37 on 51 minutes.

Three minutes later a high tackle brought another penalty, again hammered to the corner, another drive and this time it was flanker Sam Shires who peeled off to crash over for 31-37.

Coventry were certainly not out of the game at this stage, a smart attack gaining a penalty on 65 minutes with which Jones extended the lead to 31-40.

However, Park now had a clear edge and closed within two points when Treadwell scored a fine individual try, riding two tackles to gallop in by the posts, Sneddon converting for 38-40 on 69 minutes.

The crowd erupted five minutes later when hooker Tom Woolstencroft barged over under the posts, Sneddon converting for Park to take a 45-40 lead with six minutes left.

But the fairy tale ended two minutes from time, when a penalty was blasted into the home 22 and from the lineout Hurrell ran a peach of a line to score under the posts. Jones converted and then drove the final nail in the coffin with a last second penalty.

In the clubhouse afterwards departing Head Coach Alex Codling told supporters they had just seen the two clubs who would contest the League title next year. No one who saw this magnificent spectacle could disagree.

After Saturday’s match there was a presentation for the Rosslyn Park ‘Players’ Player of the Year’, voted for by the entire Park squad. The winner was Mike Macfarlane, with Luke Carter second and Mark Ireland third.

The match was Park’s last League match of the season, and saw them finish in second place for the second season running. The season formally ends with the annual London Floodlit 7s on Wednesday 6th May.

Park:Edwards; Richards, Ireland, Mackey, Field; Sneddon; Carter; Liffchak, Bellamy, MacKenzie; Treadwell, Boyle; Macfarlane, Shires, Ellis.
Subs: Woolstencroft, Lundberg, Baldwin, Gash, Whelan
Park scorers: Richards (2T), Ellis (T), Macfarlane (T), Shires (T), Treadwell (T), Woolstencroft (T), Sneddon (5C)

April 26, 2015