By Charlie Addiman
Rosslyn Park’s 27-15 win over old rivals Coventry sees them climb to fourth place in the National League One table.
From the first whistle, it looked as if Park might put the Midlanders to the sword, but Coventry soon steadied the ship and, if Park never really looked like losing, they were certainly forced to defend well indeed at times.
Park started at a hectic pace that left Coventry gasping. They soon forced a penalty for fly half Ross Laidlaw to add three more points to his season’s tally.
That lead was increased on seven minutes with a superbly worked try, fashioned by full-back Ed Lewis-Pratt who made a decisive run up the left and found winger Nev Edwards in support.
He defied attempts to tackle, and managed to get round towards the posts to shave a few vital degrees off the angle for the conversion. Laidlaw made no mistake with conversion for 10-0.
Coventry proved they had not come to make up the numbers when Park sinned on half-way, the ball was banged towards the corner on the right, recycled from the throw and worked swiftly across to the left where winger Greg Evans was lurking as the spare man.
Cliff Hodgson nailed a difficult conversion and the visitors were back in it at 10-7.
But Park were soon in command again as Coventry conceded a penalty when forced into reverse gear at a scrum, but Laidlaw was unable to convert.
Park surged back to gain another penalty in a similar position. This time Laidlaw went for the corner, but a mis-throw at the lineout saw the ball land behind the Park forwards.
Still they pressed, and a virtuoso display by scrum half Matt Heeks fashioned what would have been the try of the match.
He chipped the ball forward, got under it himself and was fouled, took a quick tap penalty that sent Willie Lipp over in the right corner only for the touch judge to spot a foot in touch.
A further surge by the home pack brought a further penalty, hammered over by Laidlaw for 13-7 on 28 minutes.
However, the visitors replied five minutes before the interval when Park were penalised for a high tackle.
The ball was again hammered towards the corner and, following the lineout, Coventry probed for space until flanker Liam Munroe darted over out wide.
Park started the second half well - Laidlaw found a penalty on half way just beyond his range, but his team were soon on the scoreboard again when Coventry sliced a clearance kick.
From the lineout skipper Harry Rowland stole possession and strode over to score, Laidlaw converting to give his side breathing space at 20-12.
Coventry were by now beginning to see a bit more of the ball, mostly courtesy of Park conceding penalties, one of which allowed Hodgson to kick his side back within five points at 20-15 on the hour.
Park soon answered with a drive up the left, then working the ball into the middle where centre Steve Hamilton got over and Laidlaw converted for 27-15.
With 18 minutes left, Park looked good value for the bonus point but, instead, rather lost the plot by conceding a litany of penalties.
Their defence was always well enough marshalled to stop Coventry taking advantage, but it was a disappointing last 15 minutes for the home fans after such a bright start.
As the match entered its final moments the referee’s patience finally snapped and Hamilton was sent to the bin for a minor offence.
When Rowland won the ball in his own 22, a man short and with time up, he eschewed a final heroic effort and booted the ball into touch to bring an end to proceedings.
Park host Loughborough Students this weekend.