Park staged a remarkable comeback from 25-3 down to snatch a late victory at Bishops Stortford, though they should never have got themselves into that position in the first place.

Playing up a slight slope in the first period, Park had a near monopoly of the early play but were denied by a superb Stortford defence. However, it was the home side who struck first when a rare attack saw a penalty chance gratefully accepted by scrum half Tom Banks for 3-0 on nine minutes.

Park continued to look the brighter side but their only reward was a penalty by fly half Greg Lound on twenty minutes to level the sores.

However, Park’s performance perceptibly dipped and Stortford readily accepted the chance to take over. A penalty that brought a yellow card for Park hooker Tom Vaughan-Edwards brought three more points for Banks on 27 minutes, then five minutes later the home side set up a driving maul against Park’s reduced numbers and hooker Declan Caulfield touched down. Banks added the extras for 13-3.

Worse was to come for the visitors a minute from the interval when a good move found space for home winger Joss Linney to gallop up the right flank and run round behind the posts to present Banks with an easy conversion for 20-3 at the interval.

Park came out for the second half looking determined to set things to rights but were almost immediately undone when Linney got the ball in space and flew up the left flank to score in the corner. At 25-3 Park’s goose looked to be well and truly cooked.

Instead the visitors dug deep and produced some rugby of a power and quality that, hard as they tried, Stortford just could not match. But it was still a very close run thing.

Ten minutes into the half they got a penalty to give the opportunity to set up the catch-and-drive, which they executed in masterly fashion for replacement Henry Spencer to claim the try, Lound converting for 25-10.

Stortford were still defending superbly, but on 64 minutes were pressurised into conceding a penalty and a yellow card. Replacement fly half Harry Leonard took the three points for 25-13 leaving his side to score two converted tries in the last 15 minutes to win the match.

The first came with eight minutes remaining as the pack drove over for lock Gregor Gillanders to score to the left of the posts, Leonard converting for 25-20.

Park piled on the pressure. Stortford defended with everything they had but with two minutes remaining, following a throw and a drive, Park spread the ball wide across the posts and replacement winger Benji Marfo sprinted in to level the scores at 25-25.

It was now down to Leonard to hold his nerve, which he did with aplomb, perfectly bisecting the posts to bring a 27-25 away win and take Park into the New Year within a point of the leaders.