London Two North East: Teenager Jack Irvine holds his nerve to help Romford & Gidea Park beat the drop
PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:35 25 April 2018
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London Two North East: Old Cooperians 19 Romford & Gidea Park 22
A late penalty from teenager Jack Irvine ensured Romford & Gidea Park retained their place in the London Two North East following a 22-19 win away to local rivals Old Cooperians on Saturday.
Jordan Wigham and Steve Barfoot’s team knew they needed to win the derby game to beat the drop having fallen into the relegation spots on April 14.
Cooperians had already seen their relegation confirmed earlier in the month, but were playing for pride in their final match of the season.
A keenly-contested first half occurred with both sides pushing to take the initiative and by the end of the opening 40 it was 12-10 to Park.
Tries from Paul Webb and Aidan Mersh, plus a conversion from Irvine, saw the away side just in front heading into the second period.
Both teams continued to not give an inch after the restart and tries were restricted due to solid defence by the two rivals.
Barney Savill managed to cross over for the visitors and with Irvine converting the extras, it put Park back in front, but Cooperians hit back to set up a grandstand finish with the scores tied at 19-19.
With Park desperate for the win, they pushed for more points in the dying exchanges and earned a chance late on when they were awarded a penalty.
Up stepped youngster Irvine and he showed nerves of steel to convert the three points and hand Romford a much-needed victory.
The result actually saw them jump up from 10th-place to seventh in the end, which is a respectable finish after an up-and-down campaign.
Cooperians had to settle for the wooden spoon having won only five of their 22 games in the division, but they pushed Park all the way.
Romford head coach Wigham said: “It was a really intense game. The boys worked so hard to get the result and fair play to ‘Coops’ they made us sweat a bit.”
While the London Two North East season is over, Park’s term isn’t yet as they have the small matter of an Essex Intermediate Cup final to prepare for.
Barfoot and Wigham’s team will face division rivals Harlow in the main event this weekend at Ilford Wanderers’.
Park made the final last season and lost out 36-29 to Rochford Hundred, but they will hope to go one better this time around and return to Crow Lane with silverware.