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Rosslyn Park take the points off Cinderford to start on a winning note
Rosslyn Park kicked off the new National League One season with a nail-biting 11-6 win at Cinderford.
Park deserved to shade it, having enjoyed considerably more attacking possession, but it took a late try from replacement Lee Starling to secure the spoils, and the match could have gone either way right up to the final whistle.
Park had slightly better of the early exchanges, won a free-kick at the first scrum on five minutes, which led to a penalty, but fly half Sam Katz’s kick shaved the near post on the wrong side.
The visitors continued to have the better of exchanges until a penalty on 12 minutes allowed Cinderford a line-out around the Park 22.
They moved the ball across the field but lost control of it and hacked it over the dead ball line.
The visitors replied with a superb attack of their own up their right flank, to very nearly get in at the corner but were eventually penalised for not releasing.
The deadlock was eventually broken on 21 minutes when Cinderford, with the advantage of the wind, hoisted a clearance which Park full-back Peter Hodgkinson did well to field cleanly, but he was isolated and left with little option but to cling onto the ball.
Cinderford fly half Mark Davies thumped the long range penalty straight through the middle for 3-0.
Park still had slightly the better of the play, but the home defence was superb.
Just as it seemed that half-time would intervene, Cinderford were penalised for coming in from the side, and Katz gratefully accepted the three points to send his side into the interval on level terms.
The second half began in a heavy shower, and a huge Park attack saw them lay siege inside the home 22 for fully five minutes.
They showed great patience in keeping up the pressure, but again the Cinderford defence rose to the occasion superbly and simply would not allow a way through.
Eventually, the ball spilled forward but Park out-scrummaged Cinderford to win it back, but were pinged for not releasing and the ball was cleared.
Cinderford made a smart looking counter-attack but star winger Codlin could not control a slippery ball. However, Park eventually sinned and another Davies long-range penalty put his side ahead by 6-3.
Park immediately returned to the attack, won a penalty of their own to bring the score back to 6-6 via the boot of Katz.
Kicking king: Sam Katz brings the sides level
Dom Shabbo was forced off the field after a sickening, completely accidental, clash, forcing Matt Heeks to move to the wing and Callum Grant to come on at scrum half, while the excellent Harry Broadbent also bowed out of proceedings to be replaced by Starling.
When Park broke out it proved lethal as they camped on the line in Cinderford’s right-hand corner.
Again the home side defended superbly but they had no answer to the sheer power of Starling who forced his way over with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Cinderford threw everything they had at trying to rescue the match, but Park were able to meet every call on their defensive resources.
If head Coach Alex Codling wanted a hard test for his men in their first League outing, then Cinderford certainly provided that and more.
Park: Hodgkinson; Shabbo, Simpson, Staff, Vincent; Katz; Heeks; Liffchak, Bellamy, McKenzie; Boyle, Bowley; Ball, Broadbent, Shires.
Subs: Clark, Lundberg, Starling, Grant, Sneddon.
Up for it: Rosslyn Park's Richard Boyle catches at the line-out
Cheerio: Harry Broadbent leaves a Cinderford defender in his wake
Double-pronged attack: Harry Broadbent attacking with Dave Vincent in support
Fast-mover: Dom Shabbo would later be forced to leave the field with an injury
Jinking: Dave Vincent prepares to take on the Cinderford defence
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