On a glorious spring afternoon, The Lions travelled to Ponteland to face Morpeth in the No.2 cup final. Having defeated their opponents on two occasions already, Park were in confident mood.
Ward Ross Kidd Ssssshnairn Saint Aaron Jake Reekie Gilmore Hasnip Kyle Jobson Greswold Sim Gould the finishers Sanderson Hennessey Ponton Ben James Beans.
For regular readers of my match reports, a quick look at the above team shows that yet again there were a few changes due to unavailabilities, injuries, promotions to 1stxv and a scheduled colts game. However a late cancellation of that game resulted in Park being able to select a few of their colts. Yet again, without them we would've been short in number even for The game of the season! However the side was a good reflection of the lads who have represented the side in a tough but rewarding season.
On the day Morpeth had certainly done their homework. They started with a mobile front row to negate Parks high tempo rugby . Their veteran front row entering the game in the second half to pressure Parks young and fatigued front row. In addition they constantly did not compete against Parks catch and drive, negating a weapon that had served Park well in previous encounters. Contentiously, a lineout on the Morpeth 5m line in the dying minutes of the game, would be the difference between winning and loosing .
Park started very brightly, dominating the early exchanges. Could have, should have scored. However a missed kick to the corner, an onfield change to the normal pattern of play and good defence, kept the scoreboard at 0-0. Morpeth though would score on more or less their first visit into Park territory. Then minutes later, scored again, capitalising on an offload to the opposition and led 0-14. Park responded. A long period of pressure led to a score by the barn storming Reekie. 5-14HT.
Things were calm at half time, confident, we were very much in it, just needed to start well and that's exactly what they did. Within minutes, Reekie had a brace. 10-14. Then Hasnip was in under the posts and suddenly Park led 17-14. With the Morpeth jugular exposed, Park needed to finish them off. But they didn't. Despite having a couple of clear cue chances, Park were unable to increase their lead .
Morpeth regained the lead 17-19. Park pressed again. Inside the last 5 minutes and Park kick a penalty to the corner. They throw to Ponton in the middle, as the veteran was lowered to the disbelief of all, a Morpeth player had sneaked around to the Park side and got his hands on the ball before the jumper had feet on the ground. Should've been a penalty, strong case for penalty try and yellow. What we got was a scrum to Morpeth. But they couldn't clear their lines and Park had two scrums on the 5m line. The Morpeth line held firm and to rub salt in the wounds, they scored a near length of the pitch try to make the final score 17-26.
Fair play to Morpeth, they took their chances and their dominance in the scrum always gave them a platform. Massive well done to the Park lads for getting to the final and giving it a good shot. Hindsight, we didn't play our rugby and when we had chances we didn't take them. But we live to fight again and have another chance of silverware on 22April travelling to Alnwick in a Candy League contest .