Cinderford RFC: Pulsating fightback for never-say-die Foresters
CINDERFORD supporters may need pacemakers fitting soon after another stunning second-half fightback nearly snatched a third consecutive National One bonus-point win.
After coming from 17 down last week against Coventry, the Foresters had their work cut out to overturn a 21-point half-time deficit and maintain their 100 per cent start.
With five minutes left in West London, the Dockham Road men led, only for former Wasps back row Hugo Ellis to salvage a draw at the death.
It was Ellis' 65th minute sin-binning that crucially gifted 19 points to put the visitors ahead. But Andy Deacon's men remain undefeated with bottom side Macclesfield at home next week.
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Ex-Dragons number eight Ellis began proceedings when he finished off a rampaging rolling maul on seven minutes with fly-half Ross Laidlow converting.
Opposite number Mark Davies' penalty reduced it on ten but missed a second on 14 before an attacking lineout was wasted a minute later as the hosts rubbed salt in the wounds on 21 minutes.
Possession was turned over at a halfway-line ruck and before Cinderford's defence could organise Park wing Neville Edwards shot up the sideline with Laidlow improving.
Laidlow's penalty increased the lead to 17-3 on the half hour before half-back partner Mathew Heeks fired through a gap at the lineout in Cinderford's 22 for number three. Laidlow made it 24-3 at the break but Cinderford came rocketing out in the second period. Davies knocked a penalty to touch and the forwards' earned an advantage before the fly-half chipped over the defence, but centre Robbie Winchle was tripped for a converted penalty try on 49.
The visitors then squandered two chances on 53 and 55 when the overlap was not exploited and a try-line knock on followed.
But on 57 minutes, more forward pressure earned another advantage and Davies went skywards again with Winchle fizzing the bobbling ball to wing Lloyd Stapleton to score.
Davies' fantastic conversion closed to seven but Park's bonus try interrupted the momentum when another devastating maul let hooker Joe Clark score with Laidlow wide on 68.
Ellis' turning point then arrived for persistent offside and Cinderford replacement George Evans peeled off a scrum and sent blindside Adam Nicholls over inside.
Davies missed on 68 but two minutes later he converted the simplest of bonus scores to level when a limp kick went straight to Winchle to send Jack Adams in.
It looked like victory on 71 when Davies' incredible round the back pass to Nev Codlin put the winger under the posts, guaranteeing an easy two.
But with Ellis restored, a third charging maul sent him over for his second in copycat fashion to his first with Laidlow holding his nerve to give each side three points.
ROSSLYN PARK: E Lewis-Pratt; D Shabbo, S Parsons, S Hamilton, N Edwards; R Laidlow, M Heeks; W Bigley, J Clark (Richmond, 63), L Ward (McGrath, 70); D Lloyd Jones, D Bell (captain); A Dowsett (Campbell, 59), H Rowland, H Ellis. Replacements: C McGrath, D Richmond, J Ngan, L Campbell, M Baxter.
CINDERFORD: S Hawley; N Codlin, J Adams (60, blood, Caven), R Winchle, L Stapleton; M Davies, S Arnott; J Brooks, T Bozzard (Bailey, 43) (Bozzard, 73), N Selway (Green, 59); B West, D McKee; A Nicholls, W Foden (captain), J Garner (Evans, 43). Replacements: S Bailey, L Green, G Evans, D Scourfield, S Caven.