Rosslyn Park near perfection to destroy Wharfedale in their own back yard
Rosslyn Park turned in a near-perfect performance at Wharfedale to come away with a bonus point 45-3 win.
Wharfedale’s sloping pitch had already seen National League One title challengers Doncaster, Coventry and Esher defeated and the locals were looking for Park to disappear in the same direction.
However, a superb display of controlled forward power, aided by some neat backs play on a quagmire of a pitch, saw a six-try win that confirmed Park’s credentials as potential title winners.
Park started playing uphill and into the teeth of a strong, biting wind, but nearly got off to a sensational start when winger Charles Broughton made a run up the right and passed on to full-back Ed Lewis-Pratt in support.
Pacy: Charles Broughton out-strips the Wharfedale defence
He could not hang on to the ball with the line at his mercy, but a marker had been put down.
Park were penalised at the resulting 5m scrum and – such were the conditions – the clearance kick very nearly crossed the dead ball line at the far end.
Park tried to play their way out from behind their own line and back upfield – kicking was a hopeless proposition - but were penalised around the 10m line and fly half Tom Barrett slotted over the penalty to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
They used the wind and slope to keep up the pressure on Park until the visiting pack simply took over, and to devastating effect.
The Park pack drove their opponents back a prodigious distance at a scrum and then drove on to 10 metres from the try line, where they were stopped illegally and fly half Scott Sneddon slotted over a penalty for 3-3.
Wharfedale were still very much in the match, using the conditions to constantly hoof Park backwards, and when the visitors were penalised at a scrum on 15 minutes Barrett attempted – but missed – the long range penalty.
The Park pack took over, drove uphill until the ball was released and quickly spread wide for Lewis-Pratt to go over on the left.
The conversion attempt from out wide simply stood no chance in the wind, but Park led by 8-3 on 21 minutes.
Line-out heroes: Park dominated the large sections of the game
Wharfedale had another penalty chance just inside the Park half but the ball struck the post below the level of the crossbar.
Park lost lock Simon Inglis to injury, but were now dominating.
Peter Hodgkinson made a good run up the left, with the ball taken on by Hugo Ellis, and the pack drove on relentlessly.
They were penalised for not releasing, but shoved ‘Dale off their own ball at a scrum to set up another series of drives close to the line.
After being penalised several times, with the scrum re-set only for another penalty, Wharfedale had to concede the inevitable penalty try, converted by Sneddon for 15-3.
The home side suffered another blow just before half time when number eight Rob Baldwin committed a professional foul, and the half ended with Park camped in the opposition 22.
The second half saw Park in almost complete command - two early penalties, the result of forward pressure, enabled Sneddon to increase the margin to 21-3 before the visitors set about getting the tries they needed for the bonus point.
Sneddon aimed the next penalty for the corner, but the ball remained in play.
Park nevertheless exerted maximum pressure, won the ball back, and Sneddon sent a delightful chip in the direction of winger Dave Vincent.
The wind played its part and Vincent had to dive full length to catch the ball goalkeeper-style and, in the same movement, popped it up for Lewis-Pratt to scoot over for his second try.
Wharfedale tried everything to get back into the game but simply could not match Park’s forward power, and were soon back defending their own line.
Muddy-tastic: Somewhere in there, Sam Shires is scoring for Park
A good move saw Park work the ball quickly from the right wing into the middle where the strength-sapped defenders just could not stop flanker Sam Shires getting over for the bonus-point try, Sneddon adding the conversion for 33-3.
With the pressure now off, and Wharfedale visibly tiring, Park moved the ball around to good effect.
Lewis-Pratt made a good darting run to set up chance for replacement Sam Edgerley and the England Sevens International doesn’t miss them from 10 metres.
Another good move took Park back to the Wharfedale line, where a knock on brought a scrum and Park drove over but the referee was unsure of the grounding.
But another scrum saw the home side driven relentlessly backwards and there was no doubt when scrum half Callum Grant dropped on the ball - Sneddon’s conversion brought the final whistle at 45-3.
Park: Lewis-Pratt; Broughton, Hodgkinson, Staff, Vincent (Edgerley); Sneddon; Grant; Liffchak, Bellamy (Cobb), McKenzie (Ward); Inglis (Bowley), Boyle; Shires, Broadbent, Ellis (Ball).
Eager: Scott Sneddon in action for Park
Try: Sam Edgerley goes over
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