London Two North East: My heart sank when Old Cooperians levelled, but it was happy days in the end, says Romford & Gidea Park’s Steve Barfoot
PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 April 2018
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The director of rugby at Crow Lane witnessed a thrilling derby clash on Saturday which eventually went the way of Park to see them survive
Steve Barfoot admitted his heart sank when Old Cooperians levelled the scores against his Romford & Gidea Park team on Saturday in the final London Two North East game of the season.
With five minutes to go, Coops went over for a try to make it 19-19 – a result which would have relegated Park.
But Romford won a late penalty and Jack Irvine added the points to secure a 22-19 away win, which ensured the Crow Lane club avoided the drop.
“The boys stuck at it and knew what they had to do, but I’ve got to be honest when ‘Coops’ scored their last try my heart sunk a little bit,” said Barfoot.
“But thankfully we got back into position and won a penalty, so I can’t argue with the performance or result and it was happy days in the end.
“My nerves were pretty shot come full time and fair play to ‘Coops’ they made us work for it.”
The hosts’ relegation had been confirmed earlier in the month, but Pat Reid’s team were still keen to defeat Romford and take them down with them to London Three level.
Paul Webb and Aidan Mersh managed to cross over for Park in the first half and a conversion from Irvine was enough to see the away side lead 12-10 at the break.
A similar close second period occurred, but Barney Savill’s try appeared to have Barfoot and Jordan Wigham’s team on their way to safety until Coops had other ideas.
They levelled the scores with only minutes to go and at this point Romford were going down.
Fortunately for the Crow Lane club, they regrouped and managed to win a penalty, which Irvine slotted, to claim a four-point win.
Barfoot added: “In all fairness I was happy with the performance. ‘Coops’ were down, but I do think they are good enough to stay up because they pushed us all the way like they have in all the games we’ve played against them in recent years.
“They have a good set of backs and we have a good set of forwards, so it was a pretty even game.”
All that settled the teams was the trusty boot of Irvine and even though it was a simple kick, Barfoot praised the teenager.
“The penalty was in front of the posts, but it still takes a lot to stand up and take it, especially in such a tight game,” said Park’s director of rugby. “Full credit to Mr Irvine for that one, but I couldn’t watch him take it.”
After such an intense and exciting contest, the chances are Romford and Coops will not do battle again next season after the St Mary’s Lane club went down this year.
Despite being old foes, Barfoot added: “I am sad to see ‘Coops’ go down. It is always good to have a local rivalry and full credit to them on Saturday.
“They played well and really wanted it, but luckily for us we got the result and our boys also played really well.”