North One East
Morpeth 29-Percy Park 7
Morpeth take advantage of Percy Park yellow card to seal game at Mitford Road
Percy Park’s disappointing run continued with defeat at the hands of league challenging Morpeth, making the relegation struggle all that harder as the season tumbles toward its conclusion. With nine games remaining Percy Park need to pick up points as fellow strugglers Dinnington are starting to show some form. With eight points separating mid table security from the relegation places there remains ‘all to play for’ but each game is becoming a cup final with points, however they are achieved, materialising as the ‘holy grail’.
In cold and damp conditions at the Mitford Road ground, Percy Park came ‘flying out of the blocks’ with a Lome Faatau score within the first 5 minutes. With Morpeth making a mistake in receiving the kick off, Park were able to seize an attacking ‘line out’ deep within Morpeth terrority. With ball secured Park moved inside and with a dummy move Lome Faatau ghosted through a static defence to score. With the conversion taken Park were 7 to the good.
What then followed was an ‘arm wrestle’ with each side unable to break down the other. Some fine defensive work kept Morpeth at bay and when Percy Park were able to break free they were guilty of some woeful passing in the mid field with the pass being played behind the runner or thrown to the floor. It must have been frustrating for the forward pack as all their hard work was being undone. Territorial advantage was being handed to the home side leaving Park on the defensive.
As the half progressed Morpeth gained dominance in the scrum and were causing Park all sorts of problems. The Morpeth front row of Moody, Hill and Sandall were finding gaps in their opposite numbers and causing havoc, with the Park scrum going backwards on more than one occasion. Yet when Park were able to get the ball to the back a lack of a recognised kicker hurt as they appeared unable to find the touch line. And this proved to be painful as Park had real dominance in that area of the game, even on Morpeth’s ball, and could have used this area as a platform to work off.
A Ben Hornby penalty brought Morpeth back within 5.
As the half came to its close Park moved the ball to Kieran Sutherland who punched through the Morpeth defence and as the defensive cover came across to ‘wrap him up’ the player was able to get to his knees whilst still in possession of the ball. Yet the decision went Morpeth’s way and from the turnover a scrum quickly followed. With Park struggling prop Joe Wafer was left holding onto thin air and as a consequence the referee awarded him 10 minutes in the ‘bin’.
Park were ahead at the turn 7 points to 3, albeit down to 14 players.
As the game resumed Park attempted to wind down the clock to regain number parity. With Morpeth in possession Park were very slow off the defensive line and two scores followed in quick succession. On both occasions centre Alex Tait was able to break through and score. From a five point lead Park found themselves 8 points behind.
With numbers restored Percy Park ‘came out fighting’ with some rough stuff on the floor and as they wrestled away they did gain ball. Yet the failings of the first half were evident and the territorial advantage remained in favour of the home side.
With some try saving tackles Morpeth were held. Joe Wafer was very much to the fore feeling very aggrieved at what he believed to be an unjust yellow card. Yet Park couldn’t get out of their half and that scrum was causing some real issues. Following a succession of scrums in Park’s 22 the referee adjudged that Percy Park had ‘unlawfully’ prevented a try and awarded the penalty score. With the conversion no longer taken Park were further behind.
The final score of the game came from Percy Park ‘old boy’ Jonny Ward who came from deep to stretch the Park defence and ‘touch down’ for the bonus point try.
At the final whistle Percy Park were beaten by 29 points to 7.
Disappointment was etched on the faces of the players yet they remain resolute that they can get themselves out of trouble and that endeavour starts next week in a must win game against fellow strugglers Northern at McCracken Park on the Great North Road. It’s going to be a nail biter.