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Rosslyn Park do all they can, but the Doncaster still hold all the cards
Rosslyn Park simply could not have done more to state their case as potential National League One champions than a 10-try, 60-12 win at Hull Ionians.
At the final whistle, news came through that Doncaster were losing by six points at Coventry with a minute to go, which would have put Park at the top of the table with a game to play.
However, before any celebrations could begin, the league leaders grabbed a converted try in added time to win by a single point.
So Park have to beat Cinderford at home on Saturday week, and look to neighbours Blackheath to defeat Doncaster if they are to win the title and gain promotion.
Hull Ionians showed great spirit in adversity in this match and made the better start. They gained a kickable penalty, which they spurned for the catch and drive, but could not find a gap in the visiting defence.
Having absorbed some Hull pressure, Park replied with a splendid move out of defence, starting with a run by scrum half Jack Gash, taken on by full-back Nev Edwards and finished off by winger Tom Howe, touching down between the posts to give Scott Sneddon an easy conversion for 7-0.
The visitors signalled they were going for the bonus point win when they turned down a straightforward penalty chance, after catching the home side offside, to kick to the corner.
Hull initially resisted at the cost of a further penalty, also propelled to touch and this time Park drove over in the form of prop Alex Lundberg.
Four-some: Tom Howe gets one of his four tries
Sneddon’s conversion attempt bounced out off the far post, a very creditable attempt with a strong crosswind behind it.
Hull showed they were not there to make up the numbers, coming back at Park and gaining a penalty in front of the posts. After kicking to touch they drove the visitors back for flanker Alex Torkington to score. Isaac Green converted for 12-7 on 23 minutes.
Three minutes later Park worked the ball wide to winger Dave Vincent who cruised in for the simplest of tries to stretch the lead to 17-7.
A good break through the middle by centre Paul Mackey set up an excellent move, spoilt by being penalised for “crossing”.
The visitors soon returned to the attack, opting for the scrum when awarded a penalty. Eventually Tom Howe came onto the ball at pace to score a super try wide of the right-hand post to secure the bonus point his side sought. Sneddon’s conversion made it 22-7 at the interval.
Any chance of a Hull comeback was effectively obliterated with a sensational start to the second half. Stand-in lock Tom Baldwin simply ran past the defence to score in only the second minute.
No sooner had Sneddon’s conversion bisected the posts than Park received kick off and, running out of passing options, kicked ahead for Howe to sprint through, pick it up and complete his hat-trick of tries. The conversion made the score 38-7 on 43 minutes.
Perfect 10: Hugo Ellis bags Park's final try at Hull
Almost from kick off Park strung together a good move up the left and flanker Harry Broadbent went in behind the posts.
He appeared to hand the ball to Jack Gash before touching it down, but your reporter is not going to argue the point as to who actually scored.
Sneddon missed the conversion, but Park had scored three unanswered tries in the first four minutes of the second half for a lead of 45-7.
That would have been enough to finish off most sides in Hull’s position and they deserve every bit of respect for keeping their heads up and fighting back. A prolonged attack earned them a penalty in front of the posts.
They opted for the scrum, won another penalty to set up the catch-and-drive. Park stole the throw, but Hull gained another scrum and this time number eight Danny Hague got over to reduce the deficit to 45-12 on 61 minutes.
Normal service was resumed 5 minutes later after Park put together a neat move and spread the ball to the right for Howe to coast in for his fourth try and 50-12.
Park were soon on the rampage again with the forwards driving close to the line. The ball was spread to both wings, probing for an opening and it was Sneddon who spotted a gap and ran through to touch down.
With five minutes to go Park hoofed another penalty to touch for a lineout on the Hull 5-metre line, and the drive over was unstoppable, flanker Sam Shires claiming the score for a final result of 60-12.
Park: Edwards; Howe, Broughton, Mackey (Gower), Vincent; Sneddon; Gash (Grant); Lundberg, Bellamy, McKenzie (Ward); Baldwin, Bowley; Shires, Broadbent (Starling), Ellis.
Sub (did not play): Liffchak.
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