A wet and windy day in West London
But Park hold out for a good win - By Gus Ryan
A wet and windy day in West London
Some good work early on from the forwards found us perched on the edge of the Actonians 22, the ball came out to the backs and into the hands Frazer Findlater, hot heeled from spending the last few weeks on the beach. Frazer threw a dummy pass so convincing I momentarily thought that I was holding the ball, creating the space for a trademark dinking run through the line to score. Conversion Frazer.
A converted penalty for each side left the score 3-10 as we found ourselves ball in hand, just inside our own half. A flat pass by Christopher Green and a great line by Hugo Murray, playing in the 13 shirt for the first time, turned the Actonians backline to stone and with some great support play through the hands, the ball found its way out wide for Timothy Bretherton to sprint over the line.
Not long after the restart, Park had Actonians penned back in their own 22, with a kick the only viable exit. However, Actonians did not account for the stretching arms of Ruairidh, charging down their kick and offloading to the everpresent Dan Thomas for the third try of the game.
Half Time. In control but not out of sight.
A few minutes into the second half and the ball came out to the backs from a well worked line out. Hugo found himself in possession before a collision with his opposite man caused the ball to come loose. This reporter was first to react, collecting the ball, sprinting down the wing and breaking a few tackles to drive over the line. It was at this point that the referee (after being quite clear on his aversion to either team trying to influence his decisions), asked for my opinion on whether there was a knock on in the build-up. Now, having no affiliation to or qualifications with the RFU and certainly no share in the referees’ match fee, I felt unfit to make this decision for him. The try stood.
Actonians came straight back at Park, winning a penalty in Fins 22 and opting to take a quick tap and go. Frazer had other ideas as he held onto the 9’s shirt to get himself a cheap sin bin, or possibly a much needed ten-minute breather. Now pinned back and with 14 men, Actonians made good use of the overlap with a cute kick in behind for their winger to dive over and score.
Never ones to rollover, Park came straight back at Actonians. A scrum in the centre of the pitch, and just inside the Actonians half, allowed the backs to split. And with great clean ball provided by the forwards it didn’t take long for Bertrand Debeuf was set free down the right side. Ears pinned back he took the Fins right up to the Actonians 5 metre line before being taken down. But it was merely a couple of phases before Bert received the ball again, this time the defence were not so fortunate as he drove through the tackles like a Rhino on speed. Try time.
After a few cheap penalties, Park were up against a line-out on their own 5 metre line and a relentless Actonians driving maul. In a last ditch attempt to stop an inevitable try, debutant Danny Ray Griffiths was seen flying in from the side to collapse the maul. Some may say it was a smart showing of gamesmanship, that he sacrificed himself for the team. Clearly Frazer had people believing otherwise, as we saw a DOTD smear campaign that Trump would have been proud of.
So with 4 minutes to go and with the match already won, Park needed something to change the game, someone perhaps. And then he came... out of the ashes like a phoenix wearing shoulder pads, the man, the coach, the player once more, Gareth Chapman. Straight away he used the energy he’d stored up from two years on the sidelines to nearly work his way all the way through the opposition maul, Actonians may have driven over to score anyway but you could tell, psychologically they were rattled.
A long kick off followed by some good defending meant Park had Actonians trapped by their own try line. Clearly shaken by the introduction of Gaz, and in a plight to get some more points on the board, Actonians made the brave decision to try and play it out. Alas, it was their bravery that betrayed them as the anticipating hands of Dan Thomas plucked a loose pass from the sky to score one of the easier tries of the season. It capped a commanding POTM performance in a number eight position usually filled by Captain Evan Gwilliam, that could well see him moved to his more natural role of 6 for the duration of the season.
Full Time: 20-39
Frazer x 2 + a penalty
Hugo: x 1