SEB Reynolds couldn’t hide his delight after ‘one of the most resilient performances ever’ saw Rams hit back from 17 points down to snatch a last-gasp 21-17 win in a National One corker at Rosslyn Park.
A wonderful length-of-the-field team try finished by Craig Stevenson put the hosts in front after Rams looked like they might open the scoring themselves, before Tom Stanton and Benji Marfo crossed either side of half-time.
Josh Bragman’s conversion made it 17-0, and it stayed that way until 55 minutes when Max Hayman rode over from a maul before Fraser Honey added the extras.
The visitors gave themselves further hope with a brilliant long-distance try midway through the final quarter, man-of-the-match from the bench Calum Scott’s electric break down the left setting-up Zach Clow to run in from 40 metres out.
Honey’s conversion cut the gap to three, and Rams had numerous chances to kick a penalty which would have secured a draw.
Rosslyn Park v Rams Pictures: TIm Pitfield
Having turned these down they were held up over the line with 10 seconds of normal time remaining, but sticking to their guns they refused another simple shot at goal and kicked to the corner from which Hayman proved the match-winner thanks to a huge 12-man set-piece.
Commenting on the dramatic final stages and the contest overall, Director of Rugby Reynolds said: “I never thought for a minute about going for a draw, we’re not doing that.
“I thought we’d won it with the five-metre scrum at the end (before Hayman was held up) but that didn’t quite happen, and we had to go and win it again, so the players did well – they went right to the end, and I thought our conditioning and composure was superb.
“It was just another incredible game with Rosslyn Park. It’s never easy to come here and it shows the nature of National One – it’s tough and if you’re not able to take your chances, they have players who can hurt you very quickly, and they did that.
“Early on I thought we were good – we had territory, were threatening the line and had some dominance, but then they nicked a try and it was a 14-point swing.
“We got back to it but again it didn’t happen and next thing you know we’ve got a yellow card; they score two more and it’s 17-0.”
He continued: “It wasn’t our best performance, but one of our most resilient with the character the players showed to come back and not be phased by being 17-0 down when it wasn’t going our way.
“We made some changes and were chasing it, but I thought we did that very well.
“The youngsters off the bench added a lot of zip and I thought Ollie Monye and Calum Scott were superb.
“Calum has a unique talent to him, and he added a lot of energy and physicality when he came on, along with a few superb line breaks which changed the course of the game.
“He started his career as a 12, went to the back row and then hooker, but he always says, ‘I’ll play anywhere.’ When I told him he was going on at seven his face lit up and he couldn’t wait to get on – that’s what you want.
“Rugby is a game to be enjoyed and he loves it, he had a smile on his face when he went on 17-0 down at Rosslyn Park and it’s what we want – we don’t want guys feeling burdened by anything, they just need to go out there and play.”
This attitude was perfectly shown with the courageous late match-winner, Hayman’s try coming in front of a tremendous travelling following who metaphorically seemed to pull the ball over the line.
And thanking the fans, Reynolds ended: “The support was brilliant again, they just get behind the boys and I’m so pleased we did it for them in the end.”
Rams host Taunton Titans on Saturday (3pm).
By Richard Ashton