North One East
Percy Park RFC 38 v Malton and Norton RUFC 17
Deadly Haskins plays the conductor to slay brave Malton
A disciplined and well-constructed performance from Percy Park, combined with a fair bit of glitter, saw off a spirited Malton side to keep the Tyneside team in touch with league leaders Scarborough. If Park can sort out their away form, we could be in with a chance of ‘scrapping’ for one of the top places in North One East this season and that would be a big turnaround in fortunes from our last campaign. At home we are devastating and on Saturday it was scrum half Will Haskins who was the chief orchestrator and architect of breaking the heart of Malton’s Lion rampant. And it was just as well Haskins came on strong as the game progressed. In the first couple of minutes of this contest a real howler from the player almost put Malton in for a score.
Malton and Norton arrived at Percy Park fresh from a convincing away victory over Consett. Their confidence was high and as a consequence Park started the game deep in their 22. When we did break out Will Haskins fell over one of his own player’s feet and in doing so threw out something that might have resembled a pass. Christmas came early. Malton accepted the gift and they were off. It was only a lung bursting effort from Captain Jonny Dubois who was able to chase back and ensure that the ball was held up over the line. Fortunately that was as bad as it got for Haskins for after that mistake he produce a sublime performance that had Malton chasing the game.
The first points of the afternoon went to the Yorkshire side as Leo Caulfield was penalised for going off side. With the restart deep into the Malton 22, Percy Park held a vice like grip on the territory and didn’t let go. Fly half Jimmy Baldwin was enjoying the space given to him from Haskins quick long pass that allowed him to bring Percy Park’s very pacey backline into play. And it was that man Haskins who opened Percy Parks account. With Parks front row dominant, Malton were struggling and the referee was unsympathetic. A quick tap from Ethan Wilson at 8 had Haskins coming around on his right shoulder. A deft pass had Haskins in play, beating two men to score in the corner. The conversion was missed with Michael Grove dragging the ball across the face of the goal posts.
Ethan Wilson was clearly enjoying the amount of ball he was picking up. Park have been missing a ball playing 8 for some time and Wilson certainly is filling that void. With Caulfield and Michael Langlands providing real supporting pace in the back row, Wilson was able to pick his runners from the back of the scrum and ruck. From one breakdown Wilson picked up and put Park on the front foot, with Haskins spraying the ball about, a Michael Birkett charge put Park toward the line. From the resulting ruck Marc Cook drove over to score a fine try. The conversion missed.
Percy Park were in control and any meaningful possession Malton had was from Percy Park errors in trying to force the game. One such mistake was well cleared up by Seb Reece who immediately put Park back on the attack. They literally had the shirt off Malton’s back. Park were awesome and it was great to watch. All Malton could do was defend and at times it was desperate ‘back to the wall’ stuff and in doing so gave away penalties. With Park electing the scrum, an almighty heave had Malton skidding backwards allowing Wilson to pick up and Baldwin to whip a pass out to Ali Blair out wide. In doing so Blair scored in the corner. The conversion was missed. Could the six conversion points dropped hurt Park as the game progressed?
The Wilson and Haskins combo at 8 and 9 was sublime allowing Park to stretch the game with some aplomb. Centres Seb Reece and Charlie Greswold played their part by snuffing out any Malton offense with some great defence high up the pitch. The only downside to the half was an injury to Michael Langlands when a Malton forward landed awkwardly on his leg. When Malton eventually got the ball it was from an awful chip kick from Jimmy Baldwin. Although it did not take long for normal service to resume as Michael Grove put in a fantastic driving tackle forcing the Malton man to the floor, with the Park support flooding over to regain the ball.
At the half Percy Park were ahead by 15 points to 3.
At the restart it was Will Haskins who was driving Park forward and deep into Malton’s red zone. An over the top pass from Josh Hedley had the player in the clear. With Park carrying well, Ali Blair was causing havoc in the middle of the park allowing full back Mattie Boustead time to enter the line out wide to complete a score. The conversion was missed. Eight points dropped surely it wouldn’t matter...could it?
Park scored again….Ali Blair over….then a rather late flag from the Park linesman ruled out the try for a foot in touch…..Mr Elliot was right…..despite the partisan abuse…let’s just say it was a dinner dance hangover and advancing age that was the cause of our linesman’s struggling rise. Back to the game…. With a free player over, a pass made inside was adjudged to be forward. A decision that prevented another score. Points were going begging!!
Lazy play at the ruck saw a Malton prop burst through being chased back by Austin Phillips. Yet the players sprint had taken Malton to Park’s 22 and as we scrambled to get back the referee gave penalty advantage to the Yorkshire team as Park were caught off side.
From the penalty, Malton went through the ritual of a training ground move. Although Percy Park were able to stop their opponent’s progress Malton were able to keep the ball alive. With a gap opening up wider than the Tyne the Malton fly half was through like an eager teenager to dot down. Poor play from Percy Park. With the try converted the score went from 20 to 3 to 20 points to 10. At this point all agreed we could have done with those 8 points. The impetus was with Malton and the question on the lips of the Preston Avenue faithful was ‘How well will we respond... or will it be like days of old where we let the lead slip and lose the game?
From a poor restart Ethan Wilson turned the ball over with Jimmy Baldwin spreading the ball to the left. Enter Michael Grove. We all know Michael has electric pace and as he flew past his opposite number it dawned on the Malton player that he could not match him with the Park player showing him a ‘clean pair of heels’ to score. As Grove trotted back to his own half after converting his own try, he was subject to some very good natured banter from the Malton side and the pitch side support. Banter that the Percy Park player took in good spirit. Park were back to the fore with some confidence.
The introduction of young Will Robinson on the left wing sparked interest in the crowd. Having excelled in Percy Park’s Academy many wanted to see what the hype was all about and with virtually his first touch of the ball the player had the crowd on their feet as a strong run was stopped short of the line.
A clever box kick from Will Haskins had Malton struggling to clear their lines. A wild kick saw the ball bobble off a players leg and fall to the ever eager Seb Reece who collected the ball to run in and score. Now here is a question …has Seb scored in every game so far? With Haskins converting Percy Park were ahead by 34 points to 10.
From the restart a fabulous catch (that brought praise from the referee) from Jonny Dubois gave possession to Park. The ball was moved to Mattie Boustead who beat several players with nimble feet before releasing the ball to supporting players. With the ball moved quickly to the left Ethan Wilson put Robinson in space. Showing real pace the youngster came inside and brushed off several attempts to tackle him before scoring. The try remained unconverted as the attempt was sliced well wide!! 39-10 to Park
As the game came to a close Park were guilty of collapsing a maul. With the tap and go penalised by the referee (came off the player’s knee) the Yorkshire sides afternoon’s frustrations boiled over with the Malton centre throwing a ball at Karl Thomson’s face. A petulant act that caused a reaction and a small bout of pushing!! Soon the Malton fly half was also at it as he had a set to with scrum half Will Haskins. A matter quickly sorted by the hulking presence of Josh Hedley. Yet that ‘fighting spirit’ seemed to galvanise the Malton side as they scored a late try. Their centre breaking several attempted tackles to score. With the try converted the game finished at 39-17.
On reflection this was probably Percy Park’s best performance to date and one that promises much. With the second team perfprming well against Tynedale on Friday night and the third team winning away at Gosforth by 43 points to 19 all is well in the ‘black and white’ camp….now before anybody gets truly carried away…a word of caution…we are back on the road next week with a trip to Bradford…and as all know we are not travelling well…..maybe we can put that right next week and win a few games ‘on the spin’… Come on Park!!