LONDON TWO NORTH: Ruislip 24 Letchworth Garden City 21
Ruislip's biggest crowd of the season witnessed one of their best games as the Maroons held off in-form Letchworth Garden City to climb above Civil Service into fourth place in the table.
Only two points separated the sides that started the day in fifth and sixth and only three points divided them on the pitch as Ruislip won an entertaining clash 24-21.
Senior rugby manager Neil Edwards said: "I was impressed with the quality of the game.
"On a freezing day and with a strong wind it was good to see two teams playing at pace and getting the ball through the hands.
"I'm sure the crowd enjoyed the game and it was a good day for the club with the Twos having a good win as well."
The hosts started strongly and some good structured rugby was rewarded with former Harrow man Nick Argent crashing over in the corner and despite being on the touchline Phil Grehan struck a wonderful conversion.
Letchworth replied swiftly, putting the home side under pressure and eventually the Ruislip defence, led well by skipper Adam Cristol, was breached by the visiting backs only to see the Letchworth centre drop the ball with the line at his
mercy. The mistake proved costly because fly half JP Greyling left two Letchworth defenders on their backside as he gave a passable impression of Shane Williams, jinking his way over from 40 metres to make it 14-0.
Letchworth had the benefit of a strong wind in the second half but it was Ruislip who were initially in charge, although poor kicking and passing options allowed the ever resourceful Letchworth 10 to sneak over and put the game in the balance at 14-7.
The team that scored next would probably win and fortunately it was Ruislip as their press defence once again proved effective. Full back Mark Whyman latched on to a loose pass to run 60 metres and feed supporting winger Joe Grehan to get over in the corner.
Letchworth immediately hit back with their second try and, with Dan O'Leary having been prominent throughout, it was his second row partner Jon Smyth who scored a popular try with five minutes to go, showing back row pace to gallop over from 30 metres.
A determined Letchworth side scored a consolation try well into injury time but the win was already Ruislip's.
Attack coach Dave Samuel commented: "I was delighted with a fair bit of our rugby but once again we put ourselves under unnecessary pressure with some sloppy passing and wayward kicking.
"Overall though a real turnaround from three months ago when Letchworth beat us at their place.
"They certainly didn't bully us today." Captain Cristol added: "That was a really enjoyable game to play in and the news that Civil Service lost means we go into fourth.
"We have them away in the Middlesex Cup next week (2pm) and that is a tournament we want to win this season."
Competition was fierce for the man of the match award, sponsored by Jim Oliver Joinery Ltd, with Greyling and Argent in the running but Smyth got the nod just ahead of Stuart Hofstetter. [25a0] Ruislip U14s took advantage of Maidenhead being without some key players due to county commitments as they romped to a 72-7 win at West End Road.
Second rower Matt Coker (3), Robert Baragwanath (3), Ian Rowe, Rhys Verley (two each), winger Dan Gajkowski and Elliott Byfield, who started the rout, got the tries, while prop Sam Lewis was unlucky to miss out on a maiden try after breaking from half way only to run out of steam yards short of the line.
Inside centre Charlie Noon added six conversions.