North One East
Bradford and Bingley RFC 31 v Percy Park RFC 18
'Away day woes continue for Percy Park'
Penquins XV away at Bradford
With Bradford and Bingley winning 4 games on the bounce, Percy Park were aware that the Wagon Lane Ground was becoming a Yorkshire Fortress for the Bees. Having lost their opening games the Earl of Bradford had sent the call out ‘far and wide’ and many had rallied to the ‘Boar’ banner. With recruits landed the ambitions were there to be seen and the Bradford team did not disappoint. Percy Park knew they would have to dig in and compete at the breakdown for the right to play. Coach Ash Smith had the belief that his team could stay in touch and compete for the victory. What he didn’t want was to come away from the Bingley ground with nothing to show. Unfortunatly that was what Percy Park got and on this performance Bradford should be competing for top spot in North One East this season.
A full and spirited bus left Preston Avenue as the Veterans joined the youngsters to make the journey south. Count Carr led the ‘who was better banter’ only to be put in his place by a lofty second row and challenged to see who would end up with the better result on the day. Alas a younger Bradford Vets side managed to replicate the same outcome as their first team by winning 41 points to 19.With honour drawn the two decided to see who was the tallest on the way home. With the Count only reaching just above the second rows ankle that contest was easily won by our First XV player. Yet both sides started their respective games well and were first on the scoresheet with Michael Grove punishing some Bradford indiscipline with two well taken penalties.
Percy Park were quick out of the blocks and put Bradford under pressure. The scrum looked even with both sides blessed with quick back row players who were quickly off and foraging around the middle of the Park. Will Haskins was ‘in the seat’ at 9 and firing passes to his backs; attempting to stretch the game. And It was the home side that gave away the first scoring opportunity with the referee awarding a penalty just outside their 22. An opportunity well taken by Michael Grove. Grove putting Park ahead on the six minute mark by 3 points to nil.
The game was a feisty affair with no one giving any ground. As the game progressed the contest reached the 20 minute mark without any further score however the first signs began to show that the Bradford side were beginning to get the edge. The combination of Haskins and Jimmy Baldwin at fly half began misfiring and Ethan Wilson was having to pick up at 8 as his scrum started to creak. Even then, as he came around the Bradford back row were at him alike a pack of snapping hyenas. Park needed to be quicker on the ball if they were to make headway. Yet try they did with Seb Rees and Charlie Greswold holding their own at centre. Turnover ball had Ali Blair running good lines asking questions of Bradford who had to be smart to defend their line.
The game was physical with Michael Grove sacked in the tackle and Jimmy Baldwin victim of a robust hand off. That seemed to enrage Austin Phillips who stepped up and produced some tremendous carries of his own, taking 2 or 3 players with him and allowing Leo Caulfield and a lighter Michael Langlands the opportunity to get forward. Bradford began to test the referee’s patience and going offside defending a bollocking run from Phillips. Up stepped Michael Grove to dispatch the penalty. 6 nil Park. With 30 minutes played Bradford started to ring the changes using their bench and they did so with some effect.
On the 34 minute mark Percy Park were penalised for twisting the scrum. It looked harsh as the Bradford loose head and hooker went in on the angle. With penalty given Bradford kicked to the flag positioned on the try line. Now dependent on where you sat coloured your view as to where the ball went out. Many believing that the Bradford player had kicked too long and into the in goal area. It must have been marginal as the linesman put his flag up and awarded the lineout on the 5 metre line. With Josh Hedley dominating the lineout a wily Bradford arm held him back allowing Bradford to collect. With the Bees on the drive they were over to score and convert. 7-6 to Bradford.
The game was close and remained feisty. Park showed some great touches by playing in the Bradford 22 and placing astute kicks that turned the defence. Even when Bradford did break out a superb covering tackle from Charlie Greswold ensured Park stayed in touch. As the half approached its close there came a game changing moment. The referee seeing an infringement in the middle of the Park awarded Austin Phillips a ‘team’ yellow card. He adjudging that Park had transgressed too many times for his liking. As the penalty was almost on the half way line it seemed harsh. And guess what…Bradford went to the line out caught the ball and scored. Despite their efforts Percy Park could not keep them out. With the try converted and on the half time whistle, Park were down by 14 points to 6.
As the second half commenced Park’s ill fortune continued with Will Haskins leaving the field having received a knee to his elbow from Michael Langlands. An injury received as Park competed at the breakdown. With Haskins off, Jimmy Baldwin stepped in at scrum half and Ash Smith came off the bench at fly half. As the game resumed Bradford were stopped on the 22 and as the scrum half made his pass Josh Hedley caught his boot on his ear leaving the player bloodied and in a heap. With Hedley receiving treatment for a nasty cut behind his ear Bradford went wide and scored a try in the corner. A try that everybody saw came off the Bradford player’s knee!!......there is a saying ‘When it rains it pours’ and that saying was apt and to the point as Park’s ability to win this game seemed to disappear in a very short period of time. The conversion was missed. 19-6
With Hedley off, Percy Park’s lineout began to stutter and Bradford started to turn the screw. The game was being played in Park’s 22 or just outside and as a consequence Park’s defensive game began to tire. A Langlands dust up and some outstanding defence from Seb Reece kept the Tyneside team competitive, yet it was only a matter of time before Bradford scored again. Tellingly in the corner as they stretched the ‘black and white’ defence. As the kick was out wide the conversion was missed. 24-6.
What we needed was a little bit of magic from somewhere to raise the spirits. With ball in hand, the authors ‘Man of the match’ , Austin Phillips set off on another almighty charge swatting players to either side before being brought down just in front of the Bradford try line. With all manner of people diving in Bradford were penalised for going in at the side. Park elected the scrum and with a heave set the Bradford pack back. With Wilson holding the ball at 8, Braford buckled, preventing Wilson from scoring. The referee was straight to the centre of the posts awarding a penalty try. To make matters worse for the home side they were down to 14.
With Bradford a player down and ten minutes to go the travelling support hoped that a comeback was on the cards only to be crushed by a short kick off that put Park under pressure and in a blink of an eye Bradford were over to score another try. If you didn’t know before you knew then it wasn’t going to be our day. It took Bradford less than two minutes to respond to Park being awarded a penalty try. We all knew that Bradford were a good side and we knew that we were at times having difficulty dealing with a quick back row and an able fly half yet we weren’t poor. Our belief was rewarded as we showed our mettle and our potential by responding just as quickly. With Ali Blair showing some nimble footwork to squeeze over from a short distance near to the posts. Unhappily the conversion was missed. 31-18.
With 5 minutes left in the game and the clock ticking down, we were too far adrift to get any points and bring something back to Tyneside. After a disappointed ‘de brief’ the players trudged off the field leaving coach Ash Smith frustrated that we cannot transfer our home form onto the road.
Still to the bar where we met up with our veteran’s side, bloodied, stitched and bandaged and full of bravado. None more than our own Kevin Bottomly (now resident on top of a hill a few miles away from Bradford) who held court and regaled all that would listen how he made a classic interception and ran 800 metres up the pitch to score a fine individual try. As a rugby pitch is only 120 metres long I will leave the reader to draw their own conclusion as to how far ‘our Kevin’ was from the Bradford Vets posts...happy days. And as our bus took a slow ride home across the moors, I discovered that Norton has moved location and in doing so looks remarkably similar to Thirsk!! Funny that!
Next week we are at home to Scarborough with a 2:15pm kick off….let’s see if we can topple the league front runners…..Come on Park!!