Conditions were perfect for open running rugby on Saturday (1 October) as Stockwood Parks 2nd XV fielded a side filled to the brim with skill, speed and experience.
Frank Daly continued as skipper and once again justified the decision by putting in a strong performance in a game Stockwood almost gifted to the home side.
Park started the game strongly, with some strong, direct running from centre pairing Jack Brooks and Dan Hooper who were directed by the strong halfback pairing of Frank Daly and Harry Bishop who orchestrated the game throughout.
The first try came after a strong driving line out directed by number eight Aaron Beattie, but as Winslow began to pressure Daly took it upon himself to dart across the line to make it 5-0 to Park (no conversion). Parks second came from another strong outlet, their scrum. Once again the ball was well presented at the back by number eight Beattie, and as the scrum began to wheel close to the try line Daly pounced on the opportunity and beat the blindside winger to get the ball down in the far left corner, 10-0 to Park (no conversion).
Despite the strong start Stockwood fell into a rut and began to let the home side back into the game and the away side seemed to forget all the basics and conceded two tries in quick concession, once around the breakdown as the markers went missing, and defenders fell off tackles, two parts of the game that Team Captain Seamus Griffin applauded after the defeat to Aylesbury.
Credit to Winslow, who tactically outshone the visiting side, using their agile back row and direct running centre partnership, and they punched holes from all over the park.
Park went into the second half 12-10 down, but despite stern words from Griffin, his assistant for the day Ieuan Beal and Team Manager Mark Macintyre, the half began as the first ended with Winslow on the front foot. The home side piled on the pressure and were able to use their big and powerful back row to get over the whitewash and added the conversion, 19-10 to Winslow.
Despite a missed penalty from full back Carr, the Winslow score may have been the spark that Park needed, as the tackles went in harder, and the ball finally began to make its way out wide with second half substitute Liam Taylor adding pace and flare to the back line and as fly half Bishop fed the ball through the hands Taylor came slicing through at speed drawing his man and feeding fellow replacement ‘Chenz’ who powerfully brushed aside two defenders to score under the posts (conversion added) 19-17 to the home side.
Winslow began to run out of ideas and put foot to ball maybe too often, and with little effect. Park on the other hand were clever with their kicking with Bishop unleashing a siege cannon right foot sending 40/50 metre kicks pinning the home side deep into their half.
With Park now on the front foot, a sloppy penalty from Winslow saw Bishop send a long kick into the home sides 22. A pin point throw from hooker Johnny Pinhorn saw a powerful driving maul head towards the home sides line at speed. With the home side beginning to weather the storm, Daly fed the ball wide to Bishop who found inside centre Jack Brooks hitting the line at a ferocious speed to break a tired looking tackle to dive over under the posts to give Stockwood some much needed breathing space (conversion added).
Park didn’t rest and continued to apply pressure on a tiring home side, with forwards finally hitting hard lines and punching into the defence at speed led by elusive back rower Alex Linney. Despite Carr missing a penalty shot with the last kick of the game Park were able to hold on to the victory.
Team Captain Griffin said after the game: “We know as a team that for large parts of the game we were very poor. We weren’t switched on even during the warm up, people seemed distant and uninterested, and take away the opening 10 and last 20 minutes of the game. We didn’t give Winslow enough respect, and they played with passion and gave it their all until the last whistle.
“If we start and finish games with the same intensity we have been putting in at training and for short stints as shown today, I am confident of causing a few upsets this season. I’d like to thank Ieuan (Beal) and and Mark (Macintyre) for helping us out, and doing their best to get the lads organised.”
Man of the Match: Alex Linney
Final score: Winslow 19 – 24 Stockwood Park RFC 2nd XV
Scorers: Frank Daly 2T, ‘Chenz, 1T, Jack Brooks 1T, Jason Carr 2C