Romford draw positives from opener
PUBLISHED: 14:51 09 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:51 09 September 2014
London 1N: Luton 24 Romford & GP 24
Romford & Gidea Park’s young squad battled to a hard-earned point in their London One North opener at pre-season favourites Luton.
And the visitors could count themselves unlucky not to have had more, holding the lead for much of the second half before a last-minute try allowed Luton to level the scores.
The conversion was missed to ensure honours finished even after a highly entertaining game.
Coach Grant Henwood gave debuts to forwards Darren Cooper and Dwayne Lyn, along with Storm Pearton at fly-half and Ben Lawrence on the wing.
Romford also welcomed back Jack Pearce, five years after his last appearance in 2009, but Luton struck an early blow on three minutes when a loose kick was fielded by ex-Romford player Steve Ellis who made good ground to set up the opening try.
A successful conversion gave Luton a 7-0 lead, but Park gradually recovered their composure and, on the quarter-hour mark, kicked a penalty to set up a five-metre line-out.
Good forward pressure allowed second row Matt Catchpole to capitalise on a loose ball for a try, that was well converted by Lawrence to level the scores.
A Luton penalty soon restored their lead, but Romford enjoyed a good spell with Anthony Catchpole prominent in his new role as prop.
Fellow prop Matt Worrall-Clare also featured in open and tight play and Romford were rewarded for their enterprising approach when Lawrence touched down out wide after good work by centre Mitchell Smith.
The winger converted his try to put the visitors 14-10 ahead, but two penalties from Luton restored their lead.
On the stroke of half-time, Lawrence nailed a well-taken penalty to take Romford into the interval 17-16 up.
Full-back Ellis turned from hero to villain for Luton after the restart as he was yellow-carded following foul play.
And Romford took full advantage when a clearance kick was charged down by Pearce, allowing the industrious Cooper to become the second debutant to score on his first outing.
A third conversion from the reliable boot of Lawrence gave Romford an eight-point advantage and both sides tried to play attacking rugby in the final quarter, but defences held firm.
Park captain Charlie Wilkinson and centre Smith were particularly prominent but the home side rallied in the final minutes to kick a penalty and snatch a share of the spoils.
Romford’s second string ran out 28-7 winners over their Luton rivals.
Nick Reid claimed a hat-trick of tries, with Dennis Kena also going over and Teddy Duke slotting four conversions to complete the scoring.