Victory over the leaders not enough as Rosslyn Park see title hopes evaporate for another season

Ealing Trailfinders 15-19 Rosslyn Park

Rosslyn Park’s hopes of the National One trophy were ended on Saturday despite defeating Ealing Trailfinders at Priory Lane.

Park were on course to close the gap at the top of the league to four points ahead of this weekend’s final game of the season, but a 63rd minute try by Ealing’s Arthur Ellis – brother of Park skipper Hugo Ellis – gave them the bonus point they needed and the league title.

Alex Codling’s side would still have needed to beat Coventry and hope Loughborough Students defeated Ealing this Saturday to win the title, but now the situation is out of their hands for another year.

It was still a fine performance to beat the champions and finish the league as runners-up for the second year in a row.

Next season will see new beginnings with head coach Codling departing this summer and a 3G artificial pitch being laid at Priory Lane.

Knowing they had to win, Park set about their business from the off, with Scott Sneddon striking a 35m penalty between the posts on five minutes.

He repeated the feat from 40m four minutes later to extend the lead, but then did miss another that looked easier than the previous two.

He was successful again on 24 minutes as Park’s tigerish tackling frustrated the leaders, until winger Luke Daniels evaded the defence to score an unconverted try and make the score 9-5.

Park continued to keep them at bay though and took a seven-point lead thanks to another Sneddon penalty.

They continued to throw everything at Ealing and thought they had a try when Paul Mackey went over only for the touch judge and referee to rule the effort held up.

Park nearly got over again from the scrum, but forced another one. After several individual pick and goes at the line, the ball was quickly spread wide for prop Alex MacKenzie to burst over.

Sneddon nailed an outstanding conversion with the last kick of the half and a lead of 19-5 looked defendable and had players and fans still dreaming of the title.

It was mostly Ealing asking the questions after the break though, and a particularly awkward one saw Park concede a penalty 25m out, which Daniels converted for 19-8.

Jack Gash was prevented from furthering Park’s lead when home scrum half Alex Walker stopped him illegally and was yellow carded.

Despite the man disadvantage, Ealing were determined to play in the visitors’ half and they launched a good attack up the left and worked the ball to Ellis to score the all important converted try that denied Park’s hopes for another year.

Rosslyn Park: Edwards; Richards, Ireland, Mackey, Vincent; Sneddon; Carter; Lundberg, Bellamy, MacKenzie; Bowley, Boyle; Macfarlane, Shires, Ellis

Subs: Woolstencroft, Liffchak, Baldwin, Gash, Northcote-Green

Park scorers: MacKenzie (T), Sneddon (4P, C)


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