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Champions show their strength

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London Division 2NE

Ipswich 24 Romford & GP 38

Romford showed their all-round strength as they sealed the title in Suffolk today.

The leaders, with 18 wins from their previous 19 games this season, ran in five tries in another bonus-point display to ensure top spot and promotion.

But they were made to work hard for their latest victory by a physical Ipswich side.

The hosts began well, but Park absorbed the early pressure and Ross Inwood sent a 30-metre penalty just wide in blustery conditions.

The deadlock was broken when Matt Phillips burst on to a short pass from John Davies to force his way over to the left of the posts, with Inwood converting.

And, although the visitors were incensed to see several high tackles go unpunished, they doubled their advantage when Iain Semain’s strong run set up a ruck close to the line and Davies sent Phillips swooping in on the left.

Inwood’s conversion from out wide dropped over to make it 14-0, but Ipswich hit back soon after with a converted try from a five-metre scrum.

And after gaining the upper hand in the line-out, Ipswich claimed a second try from close range, then added the extras with the last kick of the half to make it all square at half-time.

The scoreline remained unchanged in a scrappy opening to the second half, but Romford got their noses back in front with a penalty from Inwood.

Prop Craig Sullivan had to be helped off, but his replacement Ricky Turner was on hand to take a pass from Charlie Wilkinson and touch down to the left of the posts and make it 22-14, before Inwood converted once more.

Ipswich saw one of their centres yellow carded soon after and Park took the chance to extend the gap as Hez Crane’s strong run created the chance for Louis Stevens and Phillips to move the ball left, where Paul Bradley sent Semain over.

Another Inwood conversion made it 31-14, but Ipswich hit back almost immediately with their third try.

Tempers began to boil over in the final quarter and the home side’s fly-half was sent to the sin-bin.

Romford again made the extra man count as Stevens spun away from a scrum before Crane bulldozed his way over for a try, converted by Inwood.

And although Ipswich scored a fourth try, converted with the last kick of the match, there was no denying Romford their moment of celebration as the title party began to get into full swing.

Romford: Sullivan (Turner), James, Tillett, Watts, Crane, Semain, Wilkinson, Bradley (R Howard), Stevens, Davies, Lock (Taylor), Sarkus, Phillips, J Howard, Inwood.

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