Rosslyn Park are unbeaten no more
Rosslyn Park lost their unbeaten record in National League One at Fylde on Saturday and could have no complaints at the final result.
That did not look a likely outcome at half time after a strong first-half display saw them leading 10-7 despite playing into the teeth of a very strong wind.
Fylde started well - Park got an early throw on the home 22 but were penalised.
Fylde hoofed the ball a prodigious wind-assisted distance to touch well into Park territory.
The visitors defended very well, but twice when they turned over possession the wind prevented clearance kicks penetrating much beyond their own 22.
Eventually, a slick move through several hands saw home lock Paul Arnold crash over on nine minutes, fly half Chris Johnson converting for 7-0.
From the restart, Park drove deep into home territory, but when they were penalised the ball was belted back to their own 22.
Under pressure: Park's David Vincent, in the dark blue
In terms of possession, Park at least broke even and had a clear edge in the forwards, consistently driving Fylde backwards and pressing in the scrum.
But – fine running side that they are, and dangerous from anywhere on the field – Fylde always had the additional option to kick the ball back deep into Park territory, leaving them to do it all over again.
Eventually Park built a head of steam to drive right to the Fylde line.
The home side defended well but incurred enough re-set scrums and five penalties that the referee had little alternative but to show the yellow card.
When Fylde offended yet again as they slid backwards at the reset scrum the penalty try was awarded. Scott Sneddon slotted over the conversion to tie the scores on 28 minutes.
The ball was soon back in the Park 22, and as they worked it back up the field Fylde conceded a penalty to allow Sneddon to kick his side to a 10-7 lead on 34 minutes.
Fylde threw everything at Park for the last six minutes, spurning two easily kickable penalties to keep up the pressure but Park’s tackling was superb and the home side simply could not force the score.
There was a general consensus that the wind was worth several points advantage, so with a three-point lead Park must have started the second period as firm favourites.
Fylde had other ideas and – now unable to use the boot even if they wanted to – they deployed the running game that they play so well to completely dominate the second half.
They soon had Park pinned back on defence.
While Park could clear long distances to set up attacks of their own, it was the home side who looked really dangerous.
The visitors suffered a serious blow when lock Richard Boyle, who had been a tower of strength, had to go off with a shoulder injury.
Eventually a smart Fylde move put fly half Johnson in for a try that he failed to convert, snatching back the lead.
Park were dealt another blow when they returned to attack only for Charlie Gower to be sent to the bin for a deliberate knock-on.
If that decision looked a little harsh, then they had sorely tried the referee’s patience leading up to it.
Tough day: Park's defence is put under pressure
A further body blow came as Park attacked to try to re-claim their lead only for Fylde winger Ben Rath to break fully 70 metres round the right of the visiting defence for a superb individual try, though the attempts to tackle him were not of the standard Park set for themselves. Johnson converted for 19-10.
Park were left playing catch-up rugby. Sneddon attempted a long range penalty to try to rescue a bonus point.
Given a similar opportunity, Sam Katz got the distance but it went wide. By now Fylde’s tails were well up and a flowing move saw Arnold grab his second try for the bonus point in the last minute.
Johnson converted for 26-10 and Park had to face the long journey home knowing they had been well beaten.
Park: Hodgkinson; Shabbo (Burns), Broughton, Gower, Vincent; Heeks; Sneddon (Katz); Ovens (McKenzie), Bellamy (Clarke), Liffchak; Inglis, Boyle (Starling); Ball, Shires, Ellis.
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