By Adam Faherty
Report by Graham Pratt
On this beautiful warm spring afternoon those present witnessed a most remarkable and competitive match and a complete turnaround in fortunes.
Rochford needed this bonus point win to be confirmed as London 1 North champions and this they did, but not without having to dig deep to obtain it.
The game started at a pace with the boys in black taking the match to their hosts who had to defend desperately to keep them out.
It was to no avail as Rochford’s forward power saw man mountain Jodie Allen drive through to score. More pounding of the Priorian’s try line followed but good defence and some over exuberant play by the visitors kept the scoreboard the same.
Priorians showed from the off that they were not going to be intimidated by the league leader’s reputation and forced their way back. Their efforts were rewarded with a well taken penalty kick and then followed up by a good period od of attacking play resulting in a try to put them ahead 8 – 5.
Although totally out scrummaged in the set piece and beaten mostly in the lineout where Douglas and Hudson dominated, Priorians made up for it in the loose where they fought like tigers and stole ball off Rochford on a number of occasions.
Conditions were ideal for running rugby and both sides put this into practice and Rochford benefited from this with a well taken try from second row Dan Sowter and then a bull dozing effort from number 8 Chris Shields which Cameron Greenhall converted.to bring the score to 17 – 8.
A further penalty from the West London side brought the half time result to 17 – 11 to the visitors after a hard fought first session.
Injuries to Jodie Allen and later to scrum half Steven Jay did not help matters and added to Rochford long injury list .The home outfit came out fighting in the second half with some strong running and turned over ball which they exploited to good effect and were quickly rewarded with by running in two converted tries to give them the lead again at 25 – 17 going into the third quarter.
The Essex boys needed to regroup, tighten up and change tactics as they were under extreme pressure at this stage and dreams of a successful outcome looked in the balance.
This side are not leaders of this division and unbeaten over two league seasons for no reason and what followed was most remarkable.
James Kellard came on the tighten up the forward play and Rochford went back to the basics of using their power base and going through the phases with Matt Stewart doing sterling work as replacement scrum half.
All of Old Priorians hard work and effort began to tell on them as their defensive wall started to break and 7 tries were then scored by the prospective champions in the last twenty minutes as first wing Will. Ferrier crossed for the bonus point try, followed then by the other wing Alfie Justice running in for another. Rochford’s power base provided two tries as they drove relentlessly to the defending side’s try line. Captain Harry Hudson drove over from one of these surges and then scored again shortly after, and for Greenhall to add the extra.
Greenhall himself went over for a excellent individual try under the posts which he duly converted and going into the last few minutes as Priorian’s defensive wall fell to pieces. Will Ferrier pounced to score two more opportunist tries, one of which Greenhall converted to bring proceeding to an end and the start of celebrations by the Rochford contingent.
Commiseration to a gallant and talented Old Priorians team who put up such a staunched resistance for most of this remarkable match but were overwhelmed in the end by the superior fitness and sheer determination of this strong and talented Rochford outfit who do not know how the lose.