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Second-half display powers Rosslyn Park to Blaydon victory
11:21am Monday 30th September 2013 in Sport
It was a case of ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ for Rosslyn Park on Saturday as they beat Blaydon 41-15 at home.
It took a long time for them to find the right gear, but when they did they accelerated away from Blaydon with four tries in the last 30 minutes to bag their first bonus point of the season.
That had not looked a likely prospect at the interval, when they led by 12–5 thanks to four penalties from full-back Sam Katz but were against the elements in the second half.
Despite the disadvantage though, they powered to victory to leave head coach Alex Codling delighted.
"After a poor first half display, to go on to get the win and bonus point was a great credit to the players against a team who were extremely competitive at the breakdown," he said.
"Once again we showed how dangerous we can be with ball in hand when secure quick possession at the contact area.
"To be unbeaten after four games represents a really positive start but we are a long way from being at our best which is exciting, it is just making sure we improve week on week.
"This Saturday will be another big test. Old Albanians are a team who like to play with ball in hand so it will be crucial that we are accurate and patient when we are in control of possession."
With the benefit of a stiff diagonal breeze in their favour, Park had far more attacking possession than did their visitors but failed to capitalise on promising moves.
Katz kicked them to an early lead but narrowly missed another effort from the halfway line before adding a second penalty for 6-0.
The closest they came to a try was a darting run down the right by Dom Shabbo, but a defender managed to deflect his final pass to safety.
Returning to the attack, Park claimed another penalty but Katz’ angled effort was narrowly wide.
Park’s midfield defence was first-rate, but when Blaydon did threaten the 22 they looked very dangerous.
Fly half Andrew Baggett belted a penalty to touch and Park could not withstand a well-organised forwards’ push that saw flanker Rob Bell get over for 6-5 to put his side right back in it.
With Park still just about in control, but stuttering, coach Alex Codling took the brave decision to replace his half-back pairing after only 25 minutes. Katz moved from full-back to fly half in place of Scott Sneddon (Pete Hodgkinson replacing the full-back) while Jordan Burns took over scrum half duties from Matt Heeks.
Park were immediately back on the attack, still unable to cross the Blaydon line but two further Katz penalties gave them a 12-5 lead to take into the interval.
That looked potentially a pretty fragile lead, though, with Blaydon finding themselves only seven points in arrears and due to have the elements in their favour.
Blaydon duly emerged fired-up from the break and almost from the restart gained – but missed – an eminently kickable penalty, but were soon back and this time Baggett made no mistake to reduce the arrears to 12-8.
Park finally made their approach work count after 50 minutes when a sweeping move saw Charlie Gower go over with Katz adding a good conversion for 19-8.
Blaydon, though, were not yet out of it and enjoyed a good spell of possession, but when Park countered prop Robert Kalbraier prevented them from releasing the ball and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the yellow card. Katz extracted the full price by converting the penalty into another three points.
Despite this setback, the visitors were next on the scoreboard when a smart attack saw centre Tom Bramwell get over close to the posts and Baggett’s conversion pulled it back to 22-15.
But Park now found a confidence in attack that had hitherto deserted them and completely dominated the final 20 minutes.
First, a superb run by Charles Broughton set up fellow-winger Dom Shabbo to cruise in on the right, Katz nailing a great conversion for 29-15.
Another good move saw the ball quickly spread for centre Henry Staff to sprint over for 34-15.
A superb move involving Katz, Hodgkinson and Charlie Gower split the Blaydon defence, winning a penalty from some desperate defence. Park opted to scrummage, Blaydon offended at the scrum and a quick tap penalty saw number 8 Sam Shires dart over. Another magnificent touchline conversion from Katz took his personal points haul to 21 and brought with it the final whistle at 41-15.
Park: Katz; Shabbo, Staff, Gower, Broughton; Sneddon (Hodgkinson); Heeks (Burns); Ovens, Bellamy (Cobb), Ward (Graham); Ball, Boyle; Starling, Lonergan (McDonald), Shires.
Park scorers: Gower (T), Shabbo (T), Staff (T), Shires (T), Katz (5P, 3C).
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