Rosslyn Park make Richmond pay, but they still lose ground on the leading Knights
Rosslyn Park made 12 changes from last week’s outing but still maintained their winning streak in National League One with a 28-7 win at neighbours Richmond.
Park, who included scrum half Jack Gash playing on the left wing, are now three games unbeaten – but they must now wait until after the Christmas break to attempt number four.
However, despite the win, second-placed Park lost ground on the leaders as Doncaster Knights picked up a bonus point win over Hull.
At Richmond, strong winds and a mudbath pitch ruled out a rugby classic, but both sides played with utter commitment to serve up a derby that was never short of compelling.
Two excellent defences were on top for most of the match, though Richmond were generally forced to defend a bit deeper into their territory than were Park.
The visitors gained an early lead when Richmond conceded a penalty in the third minute for fly half Scott Sneddon to open the scoring.
Coming through: Will Bowley on the charge for Park
Both sides struggled to control the slippery ball, with promising moves spoilt by handling errors. Park looked the more decisive ball in hand, but the home side always had a counter-puncher’s chance, and looked anything but a side threatening to drop into the relegation zone.
A penalty, kicked to touch deep in Richmond territory, saw Park put in a tremendous attack which Richmond resisted at the cost of a further penalty - up stepped Sneddon to prove that the scoreboard was still working after 32 minutes for 6-0.
Tails up, Park put together some sparkling moves forcing Richmond to make some good tackles, and eventually the visitors laid siege to the try-line. Some fine defending saw Richmond boot the ball clear, but it only bought 10 metres of relief and back came Park.
Having been driven back to the line, Richmond had no answer when Park swept the ball across the back line and full-back Ed Lewis-Pratt came onto it at speed to get over on the stroke of half-time.
Sneddon’s conversion gave his side an interval lead of 13-0.
Within two minutes of the restart, Park forced a further penalty, snapped up by Sneddon for 16-0.
Suddenly Park looked like breaking loose, though an injury to Richard Boyle was a blow.
When Richmond tried to put in an attack, Lewis-Pratt put in a long clearance kick to set them back beyond where they started, and a super individual break by scrum half Matt Heeks saw the defence stretched beyond breaking point as the ball was passed out to winger Charles Broughton, who scooted in at the corner for 21-0 on 50 minutes.
Battle: Neighbours Rosslyn Park and Richmond go all out for possession
It would have been easy for the hosts to throw in the towel - instead they threw in everything bar the kitchen sink to try to wrest their way back into the match.
Park defended well, but eventually the home side reached the try-line – and made it count.
Park resisted the initial drive, but at the cost of Harry Broadbent being yellow-carded for a professional foul.
Richmond opted for the scrum and when Park offended again the referee awarded a penalty try.
If it was at the softer end of penalty try awards then the score itself was no more than Richmond deserved, Louis Grimoldby completing the formalities for 21-7 with less than 20 minutes remaining.
Winner: Darrel Ball wins possession for Park
Despite being a man short, Park swiftly regrouped and took the game to Richmond. Moments before being restored to full complement they set up a drive that forced Richmond to concede a penalty, kickable but wide of the posts. Sneddon took it on, but hit the far post square on.
The ball bounced back into play, where centre Paul Mackey had followed-up for just that eventuality - he caught the ball and sprinted between the posts before the defence could react. If it was fortuitous, then the fact is that Park were prepared for it and Richmond were not. Sneddon’s conversion effectively killed the match at 28-7.
Richmond made a big effort, but to no avail as Park shut up shop. Park will go into the New Year in second place in the League. Richmond are flirting with the relegation zone, but on this showing really should not be in any danger.
Park: Lewis-Pratt; Broughton, Staff, Mackey, Gash; Sneddon; Heeks; Liffchak, Bellamy, McKenzie (Ovens); Ball, Boyle (Bowley); Shires, Broadbent (Rowland), Ellis.
Subs not used: Clarke, Katz
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