Bank of England 31 - 18 Royston
Royston made the long journey to Roehampton shorn of a number of unavailable players to play the unbeaten Bank in a top of the table game
Despite missing some star men the Royston pack opened well with Ryan Hill doing well in the lineouts and Green and Finney marshalling the mauls. Royston repeatedly mauled The Bank backwards at a rate of knots which they could only defend by conceding penalties. Dacey scored a 3 pointer then Finney was driven over from a maul within the first 5 minutes.
A shell shocked Bank rolled up their sleeves and threw the ball around using their pacey backs to carry out wide and tire Royston's pack out.
Through a series of excellent backs move The Bank were able to pull Royston's defenders apart and managed to score 19 unanswered points before half time to make the halftime score 19-8. Royston regrouped at halftime and realised that brute force was the way forward and went back to their driving maul. From another excellent line out drive, hooker Whittingham was driven over for 19-13, then through a series of pick and drives Whittingham was driven over again for 19-18.
The game hang in the balance.
Illsley came on to add ballast to the 2nd row and Rabbetts replaced an unfortunate Garrett who managed to break his nose in the process of making a heroic tackle, whilst Gwilliams added his nous in the back line.
With ten to go the opportunity was there for Royston with a penalty shot available. Captain Ritsema went for glory over pragmatism and decided to go for the quick tap and go and get the try. In a bad turn of luck the ball got knocked on and the pacey Bank wing ran away with the ball for a converted try 26-18. Royston chased the game but weary legs were beginning to take their toll. Half breaks were not getting support and rucks were not being cleared quickly enough. With a minute to go The Bank attacked off a powerful scrum to score a final try in the corner and leave Royston reflecting on what might have been.
Royston will dust themselves off and train hard in the week and hope to address their availability issues sooner rather than later to maintain their promotion challenge.