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Home > News > Luton 29 - Rosslyn Park 40
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Your News Luton 29 - Rosslyn Park 40

Park eased their relegation fears by coming out on top of a 9-try thriller at Luton. But for some first half defensive lapses they would have won more comfortably; they were the more skilful, more constructive team throughout but Luton fought to the end.

It was clear from the start that Park had mastery up front as they drove and drove at Luton. In the 9th minute a penalty was kicked to touch, another drive and another penalty, with the referee warning home defenders. This time Park drove over; the try was disallowed and a 5 metre scrum awarded to Luton. Park took it against the head and Mike Count went over for 5-0.

Luton were nothing if not game, tried to take the match to Park and were rewarded with a penalty which enabled skipper Lincoln to reduce the arrears to 5-3. Luton had a spell of possession without looking really dangerous. But then a Richard Mahony clearance kick was charged down by home flanker Cooper, who followed up to score between the posts, Lincoln converting for 10-5.

Park came back at Luton, scoring in bizarre circumstances. Mahony kicked for touch into the strong cross-wind and the touch judge signalled for touch as the ball passed over his head. However, the ball was blown back into play before it touched the ground, and rolled over the dead ball line. The referee went with his touch judge’s signal. Luton claimed vehemently that play should restart with their scrummage back where Mahony kicked from. Having already warned the home side for abusing him, the referee controversially awarded a penalty to Park which Mahony slotted over for 8-10.

Park seemed to have dealt comfortably with a Luton attack which ended with a scrum near the line. The visiting pack easily shoved back the scrum, and when scrum half Gray tore the ball away from his retreating forwards he seemed as surprised as anyone to notice a gaping hole in front of him and scampered through it to score unchallenged for 8-15.

Park were straight back at them and scored within a minute when Marcus McCluggage followed up, put pressure on a defender, charged down his kick and won the sprint to the ball, Mahony’s conversion brought the scores level.

Still clearly the better side on balance, Park erred again defensively and Gray was again allowed an unmolested passage to the try line when nothing really looked on. Lincoln again added the extras to re-establish the home lead.

But Park kept their heads and battled on. A good run from John Swords saw the ball quickly shifted wide to Nick Canty on the overlap for a cracking try, the strong wind defying a conversion, and so the first half ended with 2 points separating the teams.

Luton began the second half as if their lives depended upon it, but were easily contained, and as soon as Park moved forward they gained a penalty to take the lead through Mahony. As they began to dictate more assertively, a clever inside pass from Tony Paul released Mike Count to almost break the defence. Then came a classic effort with a superb run from Swords, who found Nick Harlock at his shoulder, the winger then off-loading inside to McCluggage who went between the posts, Mahony adding 2 further points for 30-22.

But there was another twist when a long Luton clearance found a good touch and from the line-out home flanker Rudgard got over, Lincoln adding the conversion. Park may have been in overall control, but again there was only a point in it.

Park were never going to let it slip this time. Great play from Harlock released Canty, whose “try” was disallowed for a foot in touch. A great catch of a swirling ball by David Riley saw him set up Graham Corin for a dangerous run. Park’s pressure yielded a penalty to allow Mahony to increase the lead to four. With 10 minutes to go Park launched drive after drive at the home defence, eventually Mahony unsuccessfully trying a drop goal. Luton bravely tried to counter but were outgunned. Chris Ritchie launched a one-man driving maul and the ball was worked inside for Tony Paul to go over, Mahony converting for 40-29.

And this time Park really did stick it up their jumpers until the referee indicated it was the last play and a delighted McCluggage wellied the ball over his own dead ball line to end proceedings.

Park: Canty; Riley, Swords, Paul, Harlock; Mahony; McCluggage; Charlton (Heenan), Ritchie, Blom (Frazier); Corin, Forster; Rodman, Gates, Count.

Subs (did not play) Tauialo, Browne.

Park scorers: McCluggage (2T), Count (T), Canty (T), Paul (T), Mahony (3P, 3C).

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