Northumberland Junior Cup Final
Percy Park Pumas 27 – 5 Novos 2’s
A 25 minute first-half blitz was enough to see off a spirited Novos 2nd team as Percy Park Pumas retained the Northumberland 3rd XV Junior Cup.
For the second year in succession, Park were pitted against opposition from a higher league and Novos were first to show their hand when their full-back, who was a handful all afternoon, broke through the midfield and put his winger into space. A last ditch tackle from the covering Stephen Baskerville saved a certain try.
Park regained composure and field position, drawing first blood when Baskerville slotted a penalty to make it 3-0.
This was the start of Park's purple patch and moments later, a break from a maul on Novos' left saw a popped pass to the supporting Josh Lake, who used his strength to hold off several would-be tacklers and reach over the line. Baskerville made the conversion from the right touchline and Park were 10-0 up.
There was barely time to draw breath before Park were back into the Novos 22. A probing chip from Pumas fly-half Matthew Dale was dealt with by the Novos defence to give Park an attacking line out on the right. From here, a set piece move saw the ball move the width of the pitch for left-wing Dave Parfitt to cross in the corner to put his team 15-0 up midway into the first half.
Park had their tails up and, with Novos temporarily reduced to 14 men, it wasn't long before the opportunistic Adam Fidler broke from a ruck to scamper through for Park's third try, converted by Baskerville. Novos could not stem the momentum and moments later, Parfitt added to his tally, wriggling through on the left wing to make it 27-0.
With half-time fast approaching, Novos' burly inside centre crashed through some lax defence to give his side a lifeline. The conversion was missed and the whistle blew at 27-5.
Either the try or the half-time team talk gave Novos a lift and, much to their credit, they came out all guns blazing in the second period and had the majority of both possession and territory. Park's defence, however, was solid and their opponents were kept at bay.
As tempers frayed, both sides lost a man to bin for ten minutes. Park hooker, Ben Robertson, might have had reason to feel slightly aggrieved (having been a good 30 yards from the flair up) but took the opportunity for 10 minutes rest all the same.
With more space for both sides, the Novos full back made a good break, only to be hauled down short on the line before Park scrum-half, George Carr, made a sniping 50-yard break of his own.
Despite the best efforts of both sides, the second half remained scoreless. The final whistle was greeting by jubilation from the Pumas after a hard-earned defence of the Cup in front of a strong traveling support.
Next week, the Pumas travel to Sunderland in their final league fixture, which should cement their position at the top of the Northumberland River Aln League and complete a famous double.