Tough tackling not a total barrier
TENACIOUS tackles and a dogged defence were not enough to secure an opening National One win for Cinderford.
A 71st-minute try from Lee Starling put paid to Cinderford's efforts in a low-scoring clash at Dockham Road.
And though the Foresters had game-winning chances in the dying minutes, Andy Deacon's side were left ruing a lack of final execution as they slipped to an opening weekend defeat.
Park had the lion's share of possession and perhaps deserved to score more, were it not for hard-hitting tackling from the Dockham Road outfit. Back-rowers George Mills and Will Keenan, full-back Mike Wilcox and number eight George Evans took the hardest of hits.
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Director of rugby Deacon had to settle for the losing bonus point, with Coventry away in his sights next week, as Park head coach Alex Codling took the spoils back to London.
Despite a disheartening loss, Deacon was pleased with the performance.
He said: "It was a high-quality game. Rosslyn Park are top-quality and a very tough side, and overall I was very pleased.
"We had opportunities to score and we didn't take them. In a tight game like that there are very fine margins and that was our downfall."
Codling knew that Cinderford would be a tough place to come, after losing at the Beavis Memorial Ground last season, so was delighted to edge victory.
Though he admitted his side's performance was scrappy, he knew getting a win away from home was all that mattered.
He said: "We coughed up a lot of ball, particularly in the first half, which was disappointing.
"And at 6-6 with 20 minutes to go it was probably going to come down to one bit of field positioning or a mistake, and we got the field position.
"There's lots to work on, but when you come to places like Cinderford which is right up there in terms of toughness, I am delighted with the win."
Fly-half Mark Davies kicked with accuracy and power, putting Cinderford 3-0 up after 21 minutes with an attempt from 45 metres out.
But Park fly-half Sam Katz was a match for the 24-year-old, and slotted a penalty over in the 36th minute to ensure the visitors went into the interval all square.
As the rain came down hard and the wind swirled, Park began the second half with attacking purpose, and came close to bulldozing over several times, but the Foresters defence was in miserly form.
After withstanding an enormous amount of pressure, Davies kicked the Foresters into the lead in the 51st minute but Katz's successful boot just four minutes later meant the final quarter was going to be a tense affair.
And it was Park who had the clinical execution required to get over the line.
Replacement flanker Lee Starling had barely been on the pitch five minutes before Park were again deep in the Cinderford 22 thanks to clever field positioning.
Displaying the patience that had been missing from earlier attacks, Starling eventually muscled over the line to put Park five points clear with less than 10 minutes left on the clock.
The Foresters had several clear attacking opportunities in the final periods of play but could not collect the ball effectively from the line-out and squandered those precious chances.
CINDERFORD: M Wilcox, N Codlin, J Adams, S Hanks, Lloyd Stapleton (S Hawley, 20), M Davies, D Pointon (R Boughton, 50), C Bundy, T Bozzard (F Sinclair, 73), T Heard (J Smart, 57), E King, L Randall (T Hicks, 52), W Keenan, G Mills, G Evans (capt) Pens: M Davies (21, 51)
ROSSLYN PARK: P Hodgkinson, W Simpson (S Sneddon, 73), D Shabbo (C Grant, 65), W Simpson, H Staff, D Vincent, S Katz, M Heeks, A Lifechack, A Bellamy (J Clark,74), A McKenzie (A Lundberg, 65), W Bowley, R Boyle, D Ball, H Broadbent (L Starling, 68), S Shire Try: L Starling (71); Pens: S Katz (36, 55)
REFEREE: Shane Lewis
STAR MAN: Mike Wilcox