LONDON TWO NORTH: Ruislip 18 Diss 33
Promoted side Diss gave Ruislip some food for thought by handing the Maroons a home defeat on the opening day of the season.
Ruislip's hopes of improving on last year's fourth place took a knock when the Norfolk visitors recorded an ultimately decisive 33-18 victory at West End Road.
The turning point came midway through the second half when, having seen their advantage trimmed to just four points, Diss had Tim Groom sinbinned and Mike Forster converted the resultant penalty to close to 19-18.
Ruislip were poised to complete the comeback but Diss showed fierce determination, playing some of their best rugby of the match while down to 14 men, and after narrowly missing a penalty they almost scored when the ball was spread wide only to be knocked on at the crucial moment. Nevertheless, they again turned over possession and in the end winger Aarron Bliss showed his pace to score in the corner.
Adam Williamson made a difficult conversion look easy to give the visitors an eight-point lead and two minutes later, by then restored to full strength, second row Ali Butler powered over for the fifth and final try of the afternoon for Diss, which was also converted.
The referee blew for time soon after, leaving the Maroons to contemplate defeat at the hands of the side that came through a play-off last year to win promotion from London Three North East.
The day began with Forster missing a kickable penalty and it was a sign of things to come when Diss cleared to touch and then stole the Ruislip line-out.
Diss were clearly on top in the scrums and line-outs but it took 26 minutes to open the scoring when they attacked on their right and flanker Mike Fuller grounded the ball for a try converted by Williamson.
From the restart Ruislip put Diss under pressure for the first time in the game and when the visiting full back spilled an attempted mark, opposite number Mark Whyman scored in the corner.
Unfortunately a knock on had Ruislip immediately on the back foot again and No 8 Deaglan Hall broke from a scrum to surge over for the second Diss try, giving his side a 12-5 interval lead, which the same man stretched after Diss turned over possession at a Ruislip scrum and Hall touched down again.
Forster replied with a penalty and with fresh legs on in the pack Ruislip began to gain some momentum, ending a spell of pressure with a neat move and a try for scrum half Richard Lester.
The conversion cut the lead to four points which then came down to one but that was as close as Ruislip got.
Whyman, skipper for the day in place of the injured Paul Gibson, admitted: "I was impressed by Diss - their set piece was excellent and it meant we were on the back foot for most of the game.
"We had a good start to the second half when we reduced the lead to a point but we couldn't maintain the tempo and clearly the better side won." [25a0] The seconds, who fielded four U18s in the front five in James Dixon, Sean Cosgrove, Charlie Doyle and Jake Young, ran Hertford close before losing 32-27 to opponents who play two leagues above them. [25a0] Ruislip IV beat Fullers IV 77-3 in a Merit Table game. [25a0] The U14s kicked off the new season with a thumping 75-0 at Cheshunt.
Scrum half Jack Knights opened the scoring with the first of two tries followed by debutant Ian Rowe (4), winger Elliott Byfield, Ben Edwards (3) and Robert Baragwanath, as well as Alex Butcher and Matt Pritchard with their maiden tries for the club.
Charlie Noon (2) and Knights (3) got the conversions.