By Bob Evans
Rosslyn Park kept up the pressure at the top of National League One thanks to a hard-fought 16-3 win at Coventry.
Defeats for promotion-chasing rivals Esher and Blaydon mean just three points separate Blaydon in second and Park in fourth, while Ealing Trailfinders continue to be the team to catch sitting nine points clear at the top.
Park were without Nev Edwards and Matthew Heeks as the pair were on English Counties duty the Friday before.
However, the England and Park coach Jan Bonney was in Coventry and he saw Luke Campbell’s try, and 11 points off Sam Katz’s boot seal a fourth successive win.
Showing good tactical awareness and sterling defensive work, Park enjoyed good control for most of the first half.
Only when Laurence Ovens and Lorne Ward were yellow carded did the home side exert any pressure - even though with only 13 men the magnificent Park defence was not breached.
Despite their territorial and possession advantages though, Park were only 3-0 up at the interval through a penalty from Katz early in the half.
Their usually fleet-footed and high scoring back line being held in check by dogged Coventry defence and cloying underfoot conditions.
It came as something of a shock to everyone when in the first minute of the second half, Campbell handled in a ruck and the penalty was scored bringing the home side level.
Boosted by this, and urged on by the home crowd, Coventry did have 10 minutes of pressure but their continued profligate kicking and poor handling enabled Park to weather the storm.
Gradually Park resumed their overall control and Katz went close with an excellent attempt at a longish penalty and then, 15 minutes into the half, came the decisive score.
A brilliant, extended rolling maul from the pack enabled Campbell to score a try which Katz converted.
Katz then added two further penalties to underline their superiority and secure a well-deserved win.
Park travel to Tynedale this weekend – but the match of the weekend will see third-placed Esher travel to leaders Ealing Trailfinders.