Royston dominate to record a vital win against relegation rivals
By Lee Gilbert
Royston came away from Finchley with a vital 5 points on Saturday as London 3NW action returned for 2019
Royston travelled to Finchley on Saturday as their London 3NW campaign rolled into 2019 knowing that anything but a win would heap further pressure on themselves as they continue to battle against relegation to Herts Middlesex 1. After beating their opponents 34-10 at home earlier in the season, the Crows were full of optimism that the W could be achieved, especially after nearly 40 players trained on Thursday in preparation.
The Crows started confidently, pinning Finchley in their own half for the first fifteen minutes or so, but were unable to breakdown the resilient defence. Upon excursions into their opponents 22, Royston were guilty of losing the ball in key situations, and this was duly punished shortly after. Finchley finally managed to get out of their half, and once in the Royston 22, a quick tap penalty resulted in the first points of the day, duly converted for a largely undeserved 7-0 lead. Undeterred, Royston continued to control most of the possession and finally managed to get points on the board following a Will Dacey penalty after 30 minutes to reduce the deficit to 7-3. From here, Royston dominated the closing exchanges of the half and finally reaped the rewards their play deserved. Firstly, number eight Matthew Muirhead took a quick tap of his own to use his extra festive bulk to power over from 5m out, Dacey unsuccessful with the tricky conversion. Then pretty much from the kick off, Royston worked the ball back upfield until scrum half Adam Smith made a clinical break to score, this time converted by Dacey for a 15-7 half time lead.
From the start of the second half Royston picked up where they left off, as an excellent break by centre Euan Rees was finished off by winger James O’Sullivan, again converted by Dacey to extend Royston’s lead to 22-7. Unfortunately, this euphoria must have gone to O’Sullivan’s head as he was yellow carded shortly after for a ten-minute spell on the side-lines. The game became a war of attrition from this point, with several stoppages preventing any flow from either side as Finchley looked to get themselves back into things and Royston searched for that elusive fourth try and subsequent bonus point. Finally, after seventy minutes the breakthrough came, as a dominant scrum from the Royston pack allowed Muirhead to crash over for his second of the day, again converted by Dacey to take the score out to 29-7 with ten minutes to play. To their credit, Finchley refused to throw in the towel and managed a consolation score with the last play of the game for a final score of 29-12 in the Crows favour.
This was an excellent start to the year for the Crows and moved them eight points clear of relegation danger for the time being. Continued good numbers in training this week and the further return of several injured key players should take them into next week’s home game against OMTs with renewed confidence, knowing they can compete at this level, and more importantly, that they deserve to be in this league.