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Bishop's Stortford narrowly beaten 14-13 at National League 1 leaders Rosslyn Park

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Bishop's Stortford almost completed a memorable comeback as they lost 14-13 at National League 1 leaders Rosslyn Park on Saturday (October 2).

They got back to within a single point with 15 minutes remaining having trailed 14-3 early in the second half, but were thwarted in their attempts to win the contest as the hosts maintained their 100% start to the season.

In conditions made difficult by pouring rain - but mercifully free of the gales which had also been forecast - expansive rugby was not the order of the day, yet both sides managed to produce flashes of good handling and, as the scoreline shows, a closely-fought match.

Stortford enjoyed an early edge in both territory and possession, but two successive kicks straight into touch ceded both to the home side, who quickly forced a breakdown penalty which was converted by fly-half Owen Waters after six minutes.

Within five minutes the scores were level as George Cullen replied in very similar circumstances, with a penalty won after Park had also kicked directly into touch.

There then followed a crucial reversal of a penalty which Stortford had won at a defensive breakdown, but lost as a result of an impetuous intervention of a second Stortford player as a player from each side squared up to each other. Waters stepped up to add another three points from in front of the posts.

Aiden Burnett scored Bishop's Stortford's try having returned to the field after a yellow card. Pic: Vikki Lince. (51870650)
Aiden Burnett scored Bishop's Stortford's try having returned to the field after a yellow card. Pic: Vikki Lince. (51870650)

The game swung to and fro with, inevitably, a lot of kicking and there was little to choose between the sides.

Stortford were the first to threaten to score a try as a Cullen crosskick fell agonisingly beyond the clutches of Cole Swannack, who would have had a clear run to the line.

With first-half time running out, another piece of indiscipline from a Stortford player brought a penalty and a yellow card for Aiden Burnett for shoving Park's scrum-half to the floor well after he had kicked for territory. The home side were quick to capitalise, kicking to touch and then driving over for an unconverted try from the resultant lineout.

Waters added another three points two minutes into the second half after Stortford were penalised at a scrum, stretching his side's lead to 11 points.

Park appeared to be getting on top, but Stortford dug deep and, with Burnett back on the field, managed to win their own scrum penalty. A good touch find from Cullen set up position well inside the Park 22 and, although the driving maul from the lineout was stopped, three or four phases of forward drives saw Burnett over for a try which was very well converted by Cullen.

Some 12 minutes later, Stortford won a bout of kick tennis when a Park player badly sliced his attempted return of a deep kick from the visitors into midfield, stranding most of his team-mates offside and making a penalty inevitable as Stortford threatened to counter-attack. Cullen duly converted the kick to narrow the gap to a single point with 15 minutes to go.

Park missed a golden opportunity to register their own three points very shortly afterwards with a shot that went wide.

Cullen had two further goal attempts from long range and was particularly unlucky with the second, which had the range but went very narrowly wide.

Stortford came very close to a winning score as time was running out when Dan Powell made a great catch from a drilled Park kick from defence and then put in a bouncing crosskick, judged to perfection, but Park had enough cover defence to stop Cole Swannock inches from their line as he tried to gather the ball.

After this narrowest of escapes, the home side were more than happy to bring the game to an end shortly after.

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