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Old Reigatian RFC

Rosslyn Park Nomads v Old Reigatian 2nd XV

Rosslyn Park Nomads 38 v Old Reigatian 2nd XV 31

The season’s corresponding fixture against the Nomads, at Park Lane in November, ended in narrow win for the visitors – this time out it was the same victor, and similarly a great game of rugby to be involved in.

Viewing the league positions, it appeared that Rosslyn Park had not physically played in recent weeks, and languished towards the foot of the Surrey Championship, whilst we had been steadily climbing into the top half of the table. However, when Park put a side together, they really do put a side together and even their pre-match preparation looked daunting. From kick off, welcome returnee, Ethan Monk hit a strong tackle, following this up with a solid carry, and from the ensuing ball Kern Bush Nelson fed a clever pass inside to Jude McRobbie, who, as ever, was more than ready to drive forward.

Somehow, the Nomads were able to hack the ball through, turning defence into attack, and, despite a fantastic chase and tackle from Olly Guy, scored, which was duly converted – Olly succumbing to an injury and being replaced by George Mitchell. This early boost gave the opposition chance to show their high levels of skill, and it appeared that the whole pitch was swarming with red and white. They ran quick ball, crash ball and kicked well from hand, following up with a long pass out to the winger, who managed to force his way into the corner [12-0]. All this and barely five minutes on the clock!

Maybe having thought the game was going to be an easy run out, the hosts then became a little sloppy, giving away several penalties and allowing us time to settle. A great line out steal, more tempo in defence [Elliot Anderson and Lucas Stephens making important tackles], more ball in hand again and several clattering collisions [Ben Snelling in the mix, alongside Elliot and Jude] gave us some impetus – an inside pass from Tom Baldwin to Rob Cheal on halfway saw a powerful run beat the last defender to put us on the scoreboard.

With 20 minutes gone, the first scrum was called, which was won against the head by ORs [this unusual feat in today’s game was later repeated by Nat Keynon to provide two strikes of opposition scrum ball] and gave our pack, who were strong all game, a well-earned boost. Several passages with ball in hand gave Josh Bradford [on for Joe Sheldrick] a chance to have a run, leading to an OR penalty, which was placed down towards the corner. Despite losing the line out, more fearsome tackling [including a Patch White special!] kept Park in their own half, but regaining possession from a clearance gave them chance to counter. Fortunately, a mishandle allowed Tom to gather and make the first of his individual breaks, which became a hallmark of the game, and almost led to another Green and Blue try.

With the tide now having turned, and ORs spending most of the time in Park’s territory, line out pressure and hard work by Adam Mendoza saw the ball spinning through our hands towards Robin Hardman, whose sharp break and offload found supporting back rower Ben, who ran over the line for his second try this season. Several minutes later, a beautifully timed line out, caught by Adam, ensured quick movement to Tom, whose speed and ‘show and go’ left defenders floundering as he opened his try account. Heading towards the break, our opponents put pressure back on – a great tap tackle preventing a certain try – however, continued possession and a weighty run from deep saw a Red and White score under the posts. The conversion made the half time score 19-17.

An athletic take from kick-off, by Jude, led to an OR penalty, which took play into the opponent’s half, but attacks from both sides were being snuffed out by effective defence, albeit the Park open side was making holes and, therefore, ground on several occasions. With RP having worked into our 22 came the afternoon’s moment of magic, and definite contender for try of the season. George took ball into contact, after Joe’s run out of defence had been thwarted. This was then fed back to Tom, almost on our own line. In a safe space to kick clear, he dummied, sending two defenders the wrong way, and then took off into the gap left by their vulnerable movement across field. Looking for support [Jude and Adam closest, but not that close], he made halfway and then kicked ahead to offset the attention of three opponents. Now it was a foot race to see [A] who would be first to the ball and [B] if it would bounce kindly. Despite the unwanted advances of his last adversary, Tom showed strength and poise to control the ball and score – his own conversion putting us up by five points [19-24].

Back again came the hosts, good midfield tackling from Lewis Freeman and Patch slowing the onslaught, but a penalty put our opponents on our goal line. A fantastic jump by ORs and cleaning up by Ethan saw immediate danger overturned, with Nat and Lewis ensuring possession. Like an annoying insect, though, Park refused to go away, and more tough tackling was required to keep them at bay [Ben, Jude, Lucas]. Like that annoying insect that evades the flyswat, we did not kill them off and they eventually burst through to retake the lead, which they extended several minutes later [33-24].

ORs worked back into Nomad territory, but a double injury [Jude and Nat] might have signalled a turning point and possible submission. Not so! Despite positional changes and further substitutions [Truter Bothma, Kev Sheldrick], we continued to play rugby, both going forward and in defence.

An interception by Tom gave him his hat trick, after Park had extended their lead [38-31], but the clock was ticking down, and RP seemed to be bringing on fresh legs at will. Another strong run almost had the Red and Whites score in the corner, but for a decisive and perfectly timed tackle by Joe, which returned possession to ORs and gave us our last opportunities to press. With the final ten minutes beckoning, we had nothing to lose, and continued to put pressure on our opponents [Truter breaking tackles as he drove forward, a clever line out and interplay between Rob and Ethan taking us towards the line, power surges from Adam and Robin], but it was not to be, the final whistle blowing with Park defending passionately and ORs giving everything to get over the whitewash.

Another gutsy and, for most part, classy display. As ever, there are improvements and changes – turn overs in the loose, quick tap penalties not dealt with as effectively as we would like and a couple of times when we were exposed in the middle, allowing Park to break through and make ground, are all areas to consider, but the passion, heart and appetite continue to grow and are infectious [a special thanks to Plow for his touchline support]. Everyone, whether a regular or occasional player, is going all out for this team and its unwritten ethos, which has a definite ‘all for one and one for all’ feel about it.
As discussed, we are hoping to have an end of season get together for AXV players and supporters [13 April]. I do not have contact details for all, so please spread the word – more details will follow shortly.

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