North One East
Alnwick RFC 76-Percy Park RFC 7
Rampant Alnwick savage the statant Park Lion
With justified trepidation an ‘illness’ and injury ravaged Percy Park team limped into the home of league leaders Alnwick RFC hoping that they could exceed expectation and return to Preston Avenue with something to aid that relegation struggle. However it was not to be. Alnwick needing a 5 point haul to bring themselves to the cusp of promotion took to the Greensfield pitch like a ‘lion rampant’ and tore their Percy cousins apart.
The score line might suggest that Percy Park were awful…they weren’t …..Alnwick were that much better. Sometimes you have to acknowledge when another team are ‘in a different class’ to yourselves and congratulate them. Alnwick at this moment in time are ‘one step ahead’ of Percy Park in all that they doing and are more than deserved North One East Champions this season. True they need a point from their last game to secure the title but on this ruthless, clinical performance it is hard to see them failing to overcome that hurdle.
Sport is cyclicial and Percy Park have enjoyed past ‘sunshine’s’ now it is about how we react and how we cope in adversity. With two games remaining we can still avoid relegation yet we need a maximum of 10 points from the remaining games. Possible or improbable. With relegation rivals Dinnington ‘next up’ at home and an away trip to another team in the relegation dogfight a positive reaction to this overwhelming defeat might take us through. I know the players are determined to put this defeat right; so with your support and voice this coming Saturday it should prove to be a ‘cracker’!!
It didn’t take long for Alnwick to get onto the scoresheet. With quick ball the Alnwick full back held off his opponent and with a strong arm brushed him aside to score. Almost from the kick off Park were on the back foot. Worse was to follow with James Hamilton the Alnwick player coach brushing all aside to power over. With the try converted Alnwick were 12 points to the good.
The first half was constant Alnwick pressure and the Percy Park team stuck to their task keeping them at bay. Liam Blackburn, playing in the centre, produced an outstanding tap tackle to prevent another score. However it was only a matter of time before that door ‘creaked’ back open. Following a scrum, a well-practised and slick move saw the Alnwick centre bounce off several tackles to score. Was the door being ‘creaked open’ or just blasted off its hinges? Alnwick were unplayable, great movement from their scrumhalf had Alnwick constantly running onto the ball with power and pace that had Park hanging on. Even the ball at the back of a ‘ruck’ was picked up and the player in possession looking to keep his team moving forward. And that is where the next try came from. Park managed to bring the Alnwick movement to a halt and as they committed to the ruck the ball had gone with a ‘pick up and go’. The Alnwick player was over the line to add to his teams tally. 26 nil.
When Park could get the ball they showed glimpses of what they could do with meaningful possession. With their backs running great lines and at pace Alnwick’s drift defence was tested. Park had the capability of getting ‘around the side’. Joe Wafer and Michael Langlands took the ball on tying in the Alnwick back row. Jimmy Baldwin scenting a possibility brought an extra player into the line and attacking the left side ‘quick hands’ had Michael Grove scything through at real pace and with a stop and step to his left dummied the covering Alnwick full back to score under the posts. With the try converted there was hope in the large number of travelling supporters that tries could be scored.
Yet those hopes had to take a back seat as Park Captain Jonny Dubois was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock down preventing what appeared to be a defence splitting pass. From the resulting penalty Alnwick went to the corner and the subsequent catch and drive saw them over.
Further indiscipline from Park saw the team sent back 10 metres. Another kick to the corner…this time Alnwick put the ball through the hands to score.
As half time approached Park started to move the ball and looked dangerous with Marc Cook going close to a score and that ….well …that was as good as it got.
Half time came at 38-7 and from the kick off it was all Alnwick. First the Alnwick second row went on a rangy run that Park could not stop and despite Lome Faatau’s heroic chase back and tackle the resulting offload saw a supporting Alnwick player in to score. And so it went on. Park didn’t help matters when they kicked away possession to see the ball returned to them with gusto. Faatau and wing Kieron Sutherland were getting plenty of practice chasing their opponents back toward their goal and making try saving tackles. Despite their efforts, Alnwick’s support play was sublime and the scoreboard rolled along nicely until referee Jack Pellow put the ‘black and whites’ out of their misery blowing up with the final score standing at 76 points to 7.
On the day Alnwick were too strong for Park. They will and should be champions. They certainly played like it and I would like to take this moment, on behalf of Percy Park RFC, to congratulate President Dennis Hetherington, his sidekick Brian Lamb and coach James Hamilton on the fruition of all their hard work and energy they have put into Alnwick Rugby Club over previous years. We have enjoyed their company and sincerely hope that they take the North Premier League by storm. Somehow I don’t think they will let Northumberland Rugby down!!