The defending Champions of Zoo 1 traveled to the organisers of the competition, Rosslyn Park 2s for what would be a tough start for both teams.
The 1881s could only be described as a bit of a nightmare start, with a number of the Championship squad for the coming season being included to assess the unit’s strengths which proved invaluable against such strong opposition.
Park at the Rock is a difficult nut to crack and they deservedly took a 12 v 0 lead against a new and loose 1881s side. Two tries from the first phase is no way to set up to defend a title. One converted score and the Rock was rocking at this point.
The first twenty minutes proved to be completely owned by Park but the 1881s are a sturdy bunch and gradually eased there way back into the contest.
Whilst Park had the benefit of possession they didn’t have the benefit of territory despite having the elements in their favour. After a rocky start, the 1881’s started to find their way into the game.
Multiple penalty opportunities were turned down, and kicks to the corner proved to be fruitless as a poor line out catch and drive proved to be substandard against a resolute Park defence.
Half time arrived and Park deserved their 12 v 0 lead.
A couple of changes at the half seemed to make a difference in the next forty minutes as Sam Hanks joined the fray and the backline was completely reconstructed with Mikey Wilson moving to ten and Serotin Bordoli moving to outside centre, to accommodate Hanks returning to play at inside centre.
The forwards battered away at the Park line but a strong Park defence kept the 1881s at bay.
1881s Captain Gavin Williams scored the try of the game against a resolute Park defense was followed by a grubber kick retained and scored under the posts to bring the score back to 12 v 7 ( conversion scored by Bordoli ).
The 1881s were starting to find their way into the game and Sam Baker popped up to score a good try on 78 minutes, converted from the touchline by Bordoli to take the lead on 78 minutes 12 v 14.
Park will no doubt be a title contender this year and stormed back into the 1881s half and scored a well deserved try against some poor defending in the 10 – 12 channels by the 1881 forwards. Park now had a deserved 19 v 14 lead.
Your 1881s responded by striking back into the Park 22 after earning a penalty.
From the resulting catch and drive a bit of understanding of what’s expected as Zoo 1 title holders saw the score finish at 19 v 19 after a missed conversion.
All credit Rosslyn Park for destabilising the current Zoo 1 title holders but the 1881s may now understand the responsibility of being Champions.
Regrettably, this wasn’t a Championship performance.
The senior squad play an internal trial game next weekend before the 1881s go to Wimbledon for the next game in Zoo 1.