Rosslyn Park closed the gap on the National League One leaders Doncaster Knights to three points thanks to a 37-13 win over Old Albanians on Saturday.
Despite treacherous underfoot conditions and a slippery ball two good sides tried to play open rugby and, by and large, they succeeded.
Old Albanians came out to make a statement of intent from the start and effectively confiscated the ball for the first 10 minutes, but Park’s defensive cover was up to the task and OAs had to be content with an eighth minute penalty from fly half Lawrence Rayner for their considerable labours.
As soon as Park sniffed some possession they looked a different class in moving forward.
Left winger Dave Vincent finished off a move he started - moving up the left he started a sweeping move that took Park to the line at the opposite corner, then second phase saw quick thinking from fly half Scott Sneddon whose accurate cross-kick found Vincent in space enough to score easily on 15 minutes.
Sneddon added a good conversion, off the crossbar, for 7-3.
Over: Charles Broughton goes over for Park
Tails up, Park continued to press, gaining a scrum just outside the OA 22.
That resulted in a penalty to Park, which Sneddon floated to the right corner and from the throw flanker Sam Shires went over for 12-3, Sneddon’s conversion attempt going narrowly wide.
OAs were far from out of it, but found it difficult to get past Park’s midfield defence.
However, Rayner put them back on the scoreboard on 27 minutes with a fine drop goal from outside the 22 and wide of the posts.
Excellent effort as it was, though, it also gave a hint that his side were beginning to despair of ever getting past the home defence.
Park continued to look far sharper, but OA proved to be really good spoilers – in the best sense – and frustrated some good attacks. Given a penalty just before the interval, Sneddon decided to slot it over to send his team in with a 15-6 lead. But OA showed they were not yet beaten with a final counter-attack to gain a penalty of their own, spurning 3 points to go for the corner. They could not administer the knock out blow, but the half ended with them pressing the home line.
A further Sneddon penalty almost from kick off saw Park back in the corner. They were penalised, but then OAs were pinged for ‘crossing’ and Sneddon increased the lead to 18-6.
Park went for the two tries they needed to gain the bonus point. It was a massive blow when flanker Harry Broadbent was stretchered off having been knocked out as OAs resisted successfully until the 68th minute.
Control: Park dominate the line out
A good kick through went out over the touchline before winger Charles Broughton could gather it, but Park stole OAs’ throw and Richard Boyle powered over, Sneddon converting for 25-6.
OAs were now under the cosh and a forward drive forced a penalty in front of their posts, kicked to the corner only for Park to concede a penalty in turn.
They came straight back to grab the bonus point with a great team try. Several passes along the line allowed Vincent to streak away for the bonus point try and his own second.
A superb touchline conversion by Sneddon made it 32-6.
As full-time approached OAs gained some deserved consolation when, following a penalty kicked to touch, the ball came back to winger Jimmy Spiers who scored a great individual try, running around the home defence on the right, Rayner converting for 32-13.
Park refused to let their visitors have the last word.
From a scrum on the 22 number eight Hugo Ellis charged at the defence before releasing a delicate flip pass behind his back and the ball was quickly worked along the line for right winger Broughton to go in for a superb team try and a final score of 37-13.
Park: Lewis-Pratt; Broughton, Hodgkinson, Staff (Gower), Vincent; Sneddon; Burns (Grant); Liffchak, Bellamy (Lundberg), McKenzie; Inglis (Boyle), Bowley: Shires, Broadbent (Cobb), Ellis.