Park prove too strong for Tynedale, but the games are running out
It was very much a case of "all’s well that ends well" for Rosslyn Park, who really had to battle to get on top of excellent opponents.
But, with five games of the National League One season remaining, Park's eventual 31-11 victory over Tynedale, only served to keep them eight points behind leaders Doncaster Knights.
Revitalised Tynedale were expected to be stern opposition and they were certainly that.
If the final score undervalues their contribution to the match, then it must also be said that Park would have got the four-try bonus point but for some uncharacteristic errors at vital moments.
It started well for the home club, when Park won a penalty on five minutes and fly half Scott Sneddon kicked them to a three-point lead.
Tynedale came back directly from the restart - Park seemed to deal comfortably enough with the attack, but then elected to pass their way out of their own 22. It was on the reckless side of enterprising.
Over the line: Dave Vincent gets five points for Park
The ball moved along the line and visiting centre, Benjamin Frankland, read the telegraph for the simplest of interception tries, from well inside the 22, to put his side 5-3 up.
Gavin Beasley’s conversion attempt was wide of the mark.
However, the visiting fly half was handed the chance to atone on 15 minutes.
Park’s normally invincible scrum was penalised at the first two engagements and the second of these was in kicking range, allowing Beasley to increase Tynedale’s lead to 8-3.
Perhaps a degree of tension is creeping into Park’s play as the season reaches its climax, but when they put a promising attack together it was spoilt by a knock-on. However, they were soon back and Tynedale were penalised on their own 10 metre line. Sneddon made the kick look routine to reduce the margin to 8-6 on 23 minutes.
Two minutes later Park were back with a flowing attack, flinging the ball from side to side and trapped Tynedale offside in front of their own posts. Sneddon’s penalty put his side back into a 9-8 lead.
Tynedale enjoyed at least parity of possession thus far, but never really managed to light the danger signals in the 22.
Park by contrast always looked dangerous but were too often undone by their own errors.
Attacking again Park closed in on the try line, but Tynedale number eight Harrison Collins illegally stopped them from quickly releasing. He probably saved a try but collected a yellow card for his troubles.
Sneddon kicked the 29th minute penalty to touch but Park then got themselves penalised following the throw.
Reduced in numbers, Tynedale tried to play the game at Park’s end, but a super run through by Henry Staff saw him illegally denied a quick offload and full-back Craig Willis was sent to join his mate in the sin bin.
Forward moving: Park beat Tynedale 31-11, but the game was closer than the score suggests
With three minutes to the interval, and one of the strongest packs in the League facing 13 men, it seemed a bit unadventurous to just take the three points on offer - but Sneddon kicked his side to a 12-8 interval lead.
Park started the second half with a couple of sweeping moves, each spoiled by a poor final pass.
It was Tynedale, refusing to lie down, who first troubled the scoreboard, gaining a penalty in front of the posts for Beasley to kick them within a point of Park at 12-11.
Park came back at Tynedale with another good attack but what looked like a scoring pass was spilt.
Tynedale replied with a good attack, but Park hit them with a superb counter. Winger David Vincent flew up the left wing and when caught close to the line passed on to lock Will Bowley in a great supporting position.
Poor Bowley had only just come on as a blood sub for James Ingles and with virtually his first touch of the ball had the line at his mercy, but a despairing tackle that he would normally have ridden with ease saw him stumble and lose control of the ball as he crossed the line.
He visually pleaded for the ground to swallow him up.
Park buckled down, though and, on Tynedale’s put-in, destroyed their scrum. With the scrum now Park’s, the ball was quickly worked to Vincent, who appeared from nowhere to run a superb angle to slice through the defence and score under the posts - Sneddon converted for 19-11.
Park were straight back with flanker Ben Pienaar sent through but he was tackled close to the line and then penalised for not releasing immediately.
Look who's back: Nev Edwards back in the red and white of a Rosslyn Park shirt
Just as Park looked in control, Tynedale came back with another attack, stopped at the cost of a penalty. Beasley attempted to put his side into bonus point territory but pulled it wide of the posts.
Another great move saw Vincent sprint away up the left only to be taken out by an illegal tackle within a dive of the line. The tackle looked clumsily desperate rather than malevolent, but as Vincent would clearly have scored without it the referee had no option but to award the penalty try. Sneddon converted for 26-11.
Another good attack failed to register when Charles Broughton looked to have been put through but again the scoring pass did not stick.
Tynedale swept back onto the attack but it was their turn to mis-handle and Broughton seized the ball as an attacker juggled with it just inside the Park 22.
He sprinted the length of the field to score close to the posts. With only seconds left for Park to score a fourth try and claim a bonus point, Sneddon’s conversion attempt comprised putting the ball on the ground, kicking it to the nearest Tynedale player and sprinting back to receive kick off.
There was just time to re-start before the whistle blew. Despite their lowly position, Tynedale were among the best sides seen at Priory Lane this season, but it really was Park themselves, rather than the opposition, that denied them the bonus point.
Park: Howe; Edwards (Cole), Broughton, Staff, Vincent; Sneddon; Heeks (Gash); Liffchak (Ovens), Bellamy, McKenzie; Ingles (Bowley, blood), Boyle (Bowley); Shires (Strachan), Pienaar, Ellis.
Defence: Rosslyn Park held Tynedale at bay save for 11 points
Attack: Full back Tom Howe strides forward for Park
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