Percy Park 35 – Novos 12
In the final of the 2nd Team Plate Park eventually used their power and ball retention skills to overcome a dangerous Novos 2xv 7 tries to 2.
Pre-match craic…In the true spirit of the Lions a couple of late cry offs meant selection was left until 30 minutes before kick-off, resulting in a starting XV with little respect for traditional roles.
Mix and match pack: tight head at loose head, loose head at hooker, a tight head who last propped for the colts 12 month ago, a loose head at blindside and a lock who later claimed to be a winger; not much more sense in the backs with a 9 returning to Park colours after a 16 month absence due to injury a 12 at 10, a 10 at 15, a 15 at 14 and two centres bigger than the pack…
With wet conditions and a greasy ball Park’s strategy was simple retain possession, kick to the corners when necessary, dominate the tackle and avoid giving penalties away. This advice was thrown out of the window at the kick-off. Park received, spun the ball wide, kicked aimlessly, missed the tackle, and gave away a penalty. From the infringement Novos went to the corner and scored a well worked try from a driving Maul 0-5.
This woke Park up and the wise heads coupled with 8 of last year’s colts took a strangle hold on the game. Two early opportunities were “fluffed” Park tamely losing their lineout on the opposition 5m line, then missing touch with a penalty and conceding a 22 drop out. However, with the Pack dominant in the loose and punching holes close to the breakdown, George and Rikki dominating at 9 and 10 and the two Liam’s causing real problems with their physical approach in the centres Novos were constantly on the back foot. Pressure told when a well-executed miss-move saw Liam attract 3 defenders and Ben A take a great line from 15 to score out wide 5-5.
The same pattern resumed from the re-start, only excellent Novos defence and great counter attacking from their 15 keeping Park at bay, however, mounting pressure eventually saw Dale take a high pass, regain his composure and find a way to the line 10 -5 HT
It was clear that if Park were to win this game all they had to do was more of the same; conversely what would Novos do? No possession and hit backwards every time they attempted to go wide.
Novos started with a bang, switching tactics and using the pick and drive to good effect; initially rocked back the bigger Park pack soon worked this out and nullified their threat. As the game wore on Park’s backs became increasingly dangerous Kyle, Liam and Rikki all making outstanding breaks. This resulted in a second try for Ben A and a well worked try for Kyle and a Steve D trundle over out wide (sadly his claims to be the next great winger fell upon deaf ears. 25-5. Changes saw Joe replace Dan at prop and Stevie replace George at 9. These changes seemed to temporarily disrupt the game and Novos managed their second visit of the match in to the Park 22, confusion in executing the exit strategy resulted in a Novos scrum and after several forward drives a well worked try out wide 25-12
This was a turning point in the game Novos had their tails up and Park were starting to concede penalties. However the Park forwards well directed by Stevie upped their effort and kept things a little tighter, this created space once more Rikki and the Liams’ to take the game deep in to Novos territory. As the game wore on the Park bench was emptied to good effect and Novos ran out of steam. MMA prospect Reese replaced Dale on the wing and was immediately in the action with a superb head on tackle. The forwards then got in on the act again, Joe using nimble foot work to dance over from a couple of meters (some might say he barged his way through the defence from close range). The backs finished things with an excellent team try from undefeated MMA prospect “Reese the Wrecker Burbidge” who was on the end of the final pass as the backs swept in a well worked move.
Thank you to Novos for being excellent opposition (two real attacks two tries) and sportingly not ridiculing captain Mark when he called for three cheers for Northern; to the team of three for officiating the game in grim conditions and to Northern for their excellent hospitality