North One East
Percy Park RFC 24 v Dinnington RUFC 15
A much needed five point win!!
Whilst staring down the abyss Percy Park produced a fine home performance that brought those 5 very precious league points and just as importantly, the opportunity to avoid relegation in the final game of the season away to Bradford. It really is nail biting stuff and to quote that old cliché ‘it’s going down to the wire!!’Yet after this performance they have to believe they can do it…their fortune really is held within their own hands.
The day was bright and sunny and the Preston Avenue supporter’s ranks were swelled by a large number of very vocal former players, enjoying a pre match lunch in the clubhouse along with guests from sponsors Wade Financial. There was hope, belief and intent that all would be well and that intent seemed to be transferred to the pitch as Percy Park came flying out of the traps to challenge the kick off….and in doing so wing Kieran Sutherland clattered into the opposition leaving his opponent prostrate on the ground for several minutes. With the Park player lucky to avoid a yellow card, the Park faithful could see that their team were up for the challenge. And Park exerted all the early pressure, threatening the Dinnington line. If they had shown that little bit of composure and looked after the ball a bit better, instead of trying to force the pass, an early score would have been insured. The breakthrough came on the 20 minute mark whilst both sides had been reduced to 14 players. The Dinnington blindside forward was penalised for a dangerous tackle on Seb Reece to be followed by Seb Reece receiving his marching orders for tackling in the air. With Michael Langlands making use of the extra space he attacked the right wing channel, travelling through several attempted tackles, before being hauled to the ground by the covering defence. With several Park players in support they created a ‘clearing ruck’ and with scrum half Jimmy Baldwin releasing Sean Williamson, Park were over for the first score of the day. Hope abounded.
As both sides returned to 15 players the game became feisty with the referee issuing several warnings. Park held the upper hand in the forwards and their ‘catch and drive’ from the line out was working well, with Dinnington having to pull the same down to prevent real territorial incursions into their half. During this period Park should have added to the score yet a few infringements for ‘going off their feet’ or ‘knocking the ball on’ lost them possession. If the crowd were becoming tense the players looked assured enough playing out their 22 with some style. Yet they met a Dinnington side who were dogged in their approach and, although they made some desperate tackles, they were keeping Park at bay. With half time approaching full back Michael Grove had Park hearts racing with a scything run that almost saw him clear with a Dinnington player bringing the move to a halt with a shuddering tackle. At the turn Park were leading by 5.
The half did not start well for Park, with Dinnington galvanised by the break, Park were under pressure. The Dinnington forwards were making good use of the ‘hit then spin’ off the tackle to gain momentum and ground, that had Park using two players to stop any incursion. With the extra player committed, Dinnington looked to exploit the space by ‘going wide’. Park were under pressure and looked like conceding, only to be prevented by an outstretched Phil Morse arm. With the yellow card brandished, Morse was off for a breather and Dinnington dispatched the penalty. 5 points to 3.
It was all Dinnington. Their dominance in the scrum seemed ominous and Park needed something to take the sting out of the Dinnington ascendency. Fleet of foot was the answer. With Park securing the ball fly half Richard Chadwick came to the fore and producing his best performance in a Park shirt got Percy Park away from the contact area and moving forward. With quick hands Michael Grove was in space and with only one player to beat he drew the man and ‘put in’ Ross Alexander for a clear run to the line. The young wing thinking clearly insured that he got as close to the posts as he could. With the try converted Park were ahead by 12 points to 3.
And it was that ‘fleet of foot’ that had Park further ahead. With Dinnington failing to control a bobbling ball Seb Reece was in the line to make real progress. With Dinnington penalised for slowing down the play a ‘quick tap and go’ had Reece out wide to score. Park ahead 17 to 3. And with Park approaching the four try barrier, calls for ‘focus’ ‘patience’ and ‘next job’ could be heard from the players. Park were in no mood to let Dinnington back into the game.
With Park returned to full strength, fly half Richard Chadwick constantly had Park playing on the front foot. With prop Michael Birkett using his bulk to ‘smash the ball up’ supported by impressive ‘hit and drives’ from Sean Williamson and Joe Wafer the sting had been taken out of Dinnington’s game and they were beginning to fall ‘foul’ of the referee. Following a bit of ‘afters’ Dinnington were reduced in number. With the crowd expectant that Park could take advantage, Dinnington created a strong counter attack by keeping the ball up front. That strong surge saw a score. Fortunately for Park the conversion was missed.
With lesson learnt Park needed to keep their hold on the game and from the kick off Park pressed. And as a consequence Seb Reece added another score to his tally. With Grove converting it was the perfect riposte.
Park had scored that all important bonus point try and with time running out and the score at 24 to 8, what could go wrong? With tired bodies being replaced, Olly Gilmour took to the field and almost immediately received a yellow card for ‘dumping’ a Dinnington player in the ruck. Back to 14 players. Dinnington started to throw caution to the wind and started to throw the ball around with abandon, getting their reward with a fine try out wide in the corner. 24 to 15. From calm came tension. Thankfully Park were able to see the game through, though not without Phil Morse mistakenly believing that he was involved in the ‘last play’ of the game and putting the said ball into ‘row Z’, only for the referee to award the throw in letting all know that that the ‘line out’ was the ‘last play’. That certainly had Park supporters hearts fluttering. Fortunately a Park arm in the line out and a Chadwick boot was at hand to bring the game to a close and the knowledge that five valuable points had been won enabling the relegation battle ‘to go to the wire’ at Bradford.
With the Percy Park third team winning their cup final in extra time, an overdue good day was had at Preston Avenue. That good feeling further aided by Mick Ishida and Stu Robertson having their ‘barnets’ shaved in aid of Women v Cancer and other associated cancer charities.
Roll on next week.