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Home > News > Rosslyn Park 2XV 26 - Henley Hawks 2XV 13
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Your News Rosslyn Park 2XV 26 - Henley Hawks 2XV 13
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25
NOV

The Hawks second-string are running away with Division 2 of the Rugby Tech Shield and were looking for some decent opposition, thus this Friendly on an otherwise blank Saturday was good business all round. Both sides provided a very entertaining match for the small crowd in a wind-swept Richmond Park. With the strong wind in their favour Henley had the better of the early exchanges and Park were forced to –and did – defend well. When Park broke, they looked dangerous but such was the wind that, even close to their own line, the visitors could easily belt the ball back into the Park 22. Thus it was a requirement for Park to deploy a couple of backs far deeper than usual to mop up these kicks without surrendering too much territory. However, it was Park who drew first blood when the excellent Tom Cuff-Burnett spotted a half chance and the young scrum half did not hesitate to dart through the gap, Rhys Gosling’s conversion making it 7-0 after 10 minutes. Henley came back and, awarded a penalty 40 metres out, took the opportunity to reduce the arrears to 7-3. Park replied with a good run through the middle by full-back Leon Driscoll but he was pinged for not releasing. Another good sniping run from Cuff-Burnett almost bore fruit, but the disadvantage his side were labouring under was illustrated when the cross-field clearance kick that looked nothing special bounced into touch deep in the Park 22. Park’s backs were beginning to look a different class, but that was in no small measure due to some superb work by a predominantly young pack, led by the inimitable Kearnsy, who maintained a running commentary for the benefit of his colleagues throughout. His two young props, Italian signing Gino Corradi and Brett Williams, matched two far more experienced opponents. Jon Lake and Adam Slade did a great job in the second row. Doug Rodman was everywhere from number 8 while two young flankers, Charlie Thompson and Craig Nightingale won more than their share of 50 / 50 balls and a few 40 /60 ones. Behind the pack, Cuff-Burnett and Gosling were always looking to deploy their deadly threequarters. Gosling’s kicking from hand – against a formidable wind – was good enough to keep the opposing defenders honest. How important a factor this was did not become apparent until the second half when Henley twice bore the consequences of not doing the same thing. But Park were under big pressure, defending well and eventually they gained relief by forcing a penalty. They knocked on, frustratingly, from their quick tap but then dug deep and won the scrum against the head. But something had to give and eventually Henley were able to spread the ball across to the left and barrel over for 8-7. Park’s reply was almost instant and straight out of the top drawer. Doug Rodman won the ball in midfield and gave a pass to send Billy O’Driscoll haring through the middle and when he ran out of space James Pedder was in exactly the right place in support to accept a perfect pass and finish it off. Young Ant Hitchcock on the right wing (a player of immense promise, who can be a more than useful fly half) had a superb run up the right but couldn’t quite make the line. The consensus on the touchline before the start was that the wind was worth at least 15 points, so turning round with a 14-8 advantage represented a good reward for 40 minutes hard labour. However, Henley brought on a handful of better players after the interval (if they weren’t 1st XV regulars then our Firsts are in for a hard time this weekend!) and the wind dropped considerably. Henley made a very smart start, missed a wide penalty but were making the going. They were undone by a superb individual try out of nothing by Paul Unseld that would have been worth going a long way to see. He got onto the ball well into Henley territory and nothing looked on until he found a way past three defenders and then used his blistering pace, backing himself to beat the last defender with a 5 metre handicap. Rhys Gosling added a conversion for 21-3 after 51 minutes. At this point an old Park favourite, Nick Harlock, came on for a run out in place of Leon Driscoll. The visitors returned to the attack and looked to be getting on top, but again Park found the lethal counterpunch. This time it was James Pedder who received the ball on the left; he did not hesitate, pinned back his ears and made for the line, his momentum taking him over in the tackle. Gosling could not quite make the conversion, but that was 26-8 after 56 minutes. The visitors may have been shaken to concede two such tries, but it did not knock them out of their stride. They continued to attack and a move across the field from left to right saw them grab a try in the corner for 26 – 13. At this point Adam Harris came on for the injured Craig Nightingale. However, Park were clearly determined not to allow them back into things and the forwards asserted themselves with a massive drive to the line. The ball was whipped across the middle and Gosling almost put Pedder in but the defence was good enough to stop him grounding it. Park almost gifted Henley an interception try, but the receiver didn’t react or run quickly enough. The visitors finished with a massive attack which saw Pedder yellow-carded for his efforts, but his 14 mates held out magnificently for the last few minutes. There is some real young talent here, several of the players having developed through our own Youth system, something for which Park’s coaches – from Mini level upwards – should take great credit. We also saw another possible future star in the teenage referee allocated to the match. It never looked like getting out of his control and he refereed strictly but sympathetically, playing intelligent advantage throughout.

Park: Driscoll (Harlock); Hitchcock, Pedder, O’Driscoll, Unseld; Gosling;

Cuff-Burnett; Corradi, Kearns, Williams; Slade, Lake; Thompson,

Nightingale (Harris), Rodman.

Park scorers: Pedder (2T), Cuff-Burnett (T), Unseld (T), Gosling (3C).

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