North One East
Percy Park RFC 17 v York RFC 19
'Park fail to kick and give York the win'
Percy Park suffered their first home loss of the season to a well organised and disciplined York side. As with ‘anything Percy Park’ there is always a ‘but’, or a ‘however’ and that came in the final third of this game. A missed conversion, two penalty kicks to the York corner that drifted past the wrong side of the flag and a decision not to take a penalty shot at goal at the death, despite the coach saying otherwise, were Parks undoing. Even if we had missed and the ball had gone dead, we would have had a ‘22 drop out’ and probably got the ball back!!....In the clubhouse afterwards we talked about learning through experiences…and I know we will…I have said it often enough…we are a good side…yet for me the biggest lesson to be learnt from this game is best summed up in a rather famous quote and it goes like this…. “If at first you don’t succeed……..try doing what your coach told you do to the first time”…..
For the spectator those last few minutes were really fraught. When ‘wor Clausy’ lovingly brought me a new cap for Noel, I really should have asked for the pull down version…you know the one that can cover your eyes…...as I looked around with two minutes to go many of the faithful had their eyes covered…If I had had the right type of hat I could have and probably would have joined in….
What we can say is that the performance was one hundred percent (I could be bolder and say two hundred percent….but having already been accused of over exaggeration and writing fairy tales I will stick to one hundred percent) better than last week’s endeavours away to West Leeds. So then how did the game map out?
On a very windy afternoon Park kicked off and showing real intent York ran the ball back before recycling and booting the same down the pitch. With young Walker drafted in at 10 and Ethan Clarke starting at 8, Percy Park had a very youthful look. The returning Charlie Greswold and Ali Blair brought experience to balance the whippersnapper flair and that experience proved valuable as Andrew Walker received encouraging words following his first pass which, fortunately, was knocked on by a marauding York back who attempted the intercept. And so we settled in to a very good game of rugby.
The scrum and lineouts were evenly matched and the defence from both sides equally disciplined. Both teams went through many phases of play without making any real inroads to score. It looked tight, was tight, and the tackles were fierce.
From a penalty York kicked to the corner and having secured their line out ball battered the Park line. It was in this phase of play that the York number 8 Shane Goulding began to show that he was a real quality player. With Park having difficulty containing him, only a double movement prevented a try from being scored, It was all York. A great double tackle from Greswold and Michael Langlands ensured that a York drive to the line was held up. Yet they kept knocking on the door. Scrum followed scrum until Park were adjudged to have been offside right in front of the posts. York went back to the scrum. With a steady platform, Goulding picked up at the back dummied the man with a slight feint and he was over to score. First blood York. Conversion taken 7 nil to the visitors.
Then it was back to the graft. Austin Phillips was posing a real threat to the York defence hammering up and taking three or four players with him. York held on. If Park had been a bit quicker to pick up they might have got behind the visitors defensive line. The play continued left and right looking for gaps. Often the pass was behind the running plyer which caused a check on the run before the hit. Park probed deep into the 22 retaining the ball really well. York continued to hold on, throwing bodies into the breakdown. We looked good, really good until the referee decided we had gone off our feet and allowed York to clear. From where I was standing that looked a tough call.
York attacked with real zeal. They looked a really quality outfit and it was only some enormous tackles by the Park forwards that kept them at bay. Some of the hits were brutal. Fast hands saw York at the corner before a despairing grab tackle put the York wing into touch.
A short line out move, supported by back row forward Leo Caulfield, had Maximus Dubois charging toward the York 22. Josh Hedley rampaged forward and this time Park recycled quickly and York were pressed and chasing across the pitch. At the line Austin Phillips knocked on. Unfortunate, but Park were showing quality and a score looked likely and it duly arrived. Following a York player being penalised for handling in the ruck, Percy Park elected to take the penalty by kicking to the corner. With Michael Langlands securing the ball we were off on the charge with real pace. York could do nothing and someone with the ball in their hands scored. As I asked who had scored the try, that wily old wag Mike Kitchen piped up ‘I think it was one to eight who got the score’……. Unbelievingly that quip really did have quite a few looking at the programme to see if we had signed a new player!!!!
The conversion was missed. 5-7 at the turn.
York kicked into the wind and a similar pattern emerged. Pass, Press, recycle and repeat before the wind assisted side gathered the ball and put it down the pitch. The chase became important and Park were up and quick; catching York in or on their 22. Austin Philips and Josh Hedley were making strong runs into the heart of the York line. Park looked in control. The question being; could they break through the Yorkshire line?….and as the faithful felt confident in asking that question Percy Park had a ‘dirus terriblis’ moment in defence with a player flying out of the line leaving a gap as large as the River Tyne. To make matters worse that man Goulding was the York player in possession of the ball and with a little shimmy he went through…at some pace I might add….like a teenage boy on his first date….. And then to compound matters he dummied the full back to score under the posts.
With the conversion taken York were ahead by 14 points to 5. Park had it all to do.
We needed an immediate reaction. The kick was long and down the pitch. With the wind swirling York knocked on and Park had the scrum just outside the 22. We had territory and a good opportunity to respond. A mix up between scrum half Jarred Deacon and fly half Andrew Walker gave the ball back to York and in doing so the tension in the crowd went up more than several notches. Cue Jimmy Baldwin to enter the fray replacing Andrew Walker at fly half.
Percy Park picked up the pace and as we did so Ethan Clarke came to the fore, picking gaps to run at whilst sucking in defenders. Park went deeper in the pass allowing runners to come on to the ball before making contact with the York defence. We were pressing hard and a little luck came our way with a bouncing ball picked up by Charlie Greswold. A bounce that got him behind the York defence with Ali Blair in support. The ball was recycled and Park were up for the battle on the line. A crash ball set up the ruck nicely. With Park gathering numbers they went twice before going over the line. Bodies were everywhere and the ball could not be seen. With the ball held up we were back to the scrum. A Clarke pick up created the ruck and Marc Cook took it on. With a bollocking drive he was over the line. Again the referee adjudged that the ball was held up. Back to the scrum. Park got the shove and kept the ball at the back foot. Over the line they went with Clarke appearing to be on top of the ball….. That was until some unseen York skulduggery attempted to prevent the score. Penalty try Park. 14-12 game on!!
Both sides went at it. The collisions were huge and the pace of the tackle very quick, with players quickly on their feet awaiting the next phase of play. Both sides were cancelling each other out. We needed a bit of magic and it came at the hands of our own ‘necromancer’ Ali Blair. A dodgy pass from Deacon went behind the advancing Clarke only to bounce favourably into the hands of Ali Blair. With the ball in two hands Blair ran along the York line until a little side step saw him attacking the weaker defensive shoulder and with an electric burst of pace put himself through and once through that was it….goodnight Vienna…with the score just to the left of the post Park were left with the easiest of conversions…..or was it?.....with Walker being replaced by Baldwin Percy Park suddenly found that they didn’t have a goal kicker on the pitch. With a hand up full back Mattie Boustead decided to take responsibility and…missed. 17-14 to the home side. Would that 2 point miss hurt...well it did but in the strangest of moments!!
With the York ball carrier going to the floor Austin Phillips looked as if he had got under him and as the York players drove in Phillips looked as if he had ripped the ball. The referees arm came up indicating a penalty award to Park or saw we thought. He hadn’t. The referee had spotted Phillips infringing and had awarded the penalty to York. York set off. In that moment Park had stopped playing before deciding it would be a good idea to go chasing after the York man. A fine tackle stopped the York rampage and Park regrouped. Only for Leo Caulfield to get his foot slightly forward and creep offside before making a tackle. Park continued to furiously defend the line before another penalty was given and York allowed to play on with the advantage. Park were blitzing out of the line stopping the York players. As their prop was stopped a Park player crept forward and the pass was in behind and the York winger was released to score from 10 metres out. The conversion missed. 19-17 to York and time was running out.
The game ebbed and flowed with no one team able to gain superiority. As time dripped away Park were awarded a penalty deep in York’s half; a kick which they elected to place into the corner. Sadly the kick did not make the line instead the ball dropped into a York players hands and was cleared. Park kept pressing and were playing really well. York couldn’t get out of their half. Then we were given ‘that chance’. The referee had already checked his watch. The ball went to a maul and it looked as if a York player had used his hand to knock the ball out a Park grasp. Penalty just wide on the 22. Certainly kickable. The shout from the coach ‘Posts Posts’…..again ‘Posts, Posts’ instead we went for the line out…and missed…. dragging the ball inside of the corner flag and dead. Back to the scrum…given at the point where the penalty was taken. York ball. They collected and carried. The referee indicated 40 minutes had been played. The York scrum half then dispatched the ball into ‘row Z’…game over…and the ‘if only’ thought for Park.
This was a great game of rugby that really did have the spectator on the seat of their pants and definitely watching through partially closed eyes. In fairness neither side should have lost but we did ……now it’s onto next week. As there is only 4 points separating Park from the relegation zone it’s a big one. Next game away to Pocklington
I would love to report that the seconds had a great game but they didn’t……it just wasn’t to be our day….there’s always next week…Come on Park !!