North One East
Pocklington RUFC 49 v Percy Park 20
Deacon to the second row as Park swim backwards
As some wag was oft to comment “Don’t go backwards you have already been there” summed up our performance as Percy Park struggled to get out of their half….in fact I’m sure the only thing we attacked with purpose during periods of this game was the floor. Percy Park travelled to Feathers Field to take on a resurgent Pocklington side without an experienced front row. Pocklington quickly found us out and deprived Park of any platform to attack; which was a great shame because we were lethal going forward. A fact emphasised by the actuality that we sored 4 tries and gained ourselves a very valuable bonus point. Not an easy feat when you appear to be going backwards for large periods of the game.
Now before we all go ‘Brexit’ and get maudlin there were positives all over the field. Aiden Phillips and Mark Barry stepped into the fiery pit and by the end of the game enabled a very capable Ethan Clarke at 8 to dig the ball out at the back of the scrum and get us onto the front foot. Then there was the return of Cameron Coates who played really well and thankfully knows how to kick a ball. And young scrum half Jarred Deacon received the best coaching advice he will ever get on how to deal with a scrum that’s going backwards….”Don’t worry Jarred just stick it in the second row!!”…..win or lose there’s always humour somewhere….so how did this game play out?
From the off Percy Park were on the back foot. Only a fine try saving tackle from Matty Boustead prevented Pocklington from getting on the score sheet ‘early doors’. We were struggling in the front row and Pocklington, with a very large and heavy pack, exploited our weakness to the full. A fact emphasised by the referee awarding Pocklington a penalty as Park wheeled past the 90 with our front row dangling. With the kick taken. 3-0 to the home side.
Pocklington were keen to keep the ball tight. Their instructions from the bench was to starve Park of the ball. And they flew into the ruck attracting penalties as Park were guilty of holding on. Fortunately Pock were unable to add to their score.
As Park went down in the scrum Aiden Phillips was left prostrate. Park reorganised with Michael Langlands dropping in at hooker and Maximus Dubois taking over at tight head. Penalties still came our way and on this occasion Pocklington kicked to the corner. Park were on the 5 metre and defending for their lives. Well some were. Pocklington retained the ball and kept the same ‘up the jumper’. As they pushed, wheeled and went down the side, Park couldn’t hold the ground. Pocklington were over and with the conversion taken 10 points to the good. Percy Park had lost their shape. And it didn’t get any better.
Josh Britton, at the Pocklington centre, was all over the place causing problems with strong direct runs, which constantly saw his side across the gain line. As Pocklington sucked Park into the ruck or maul, Britton took them wide and with numbers available put in their winger for a try. The conversion wasn’t easy and as a consequence was missed. !5-0 to the home side.
Michael Langlands was having difficulty hooking our ball as Pocklington upped the front row pressure. Park couldn’t cope and were caught offside as they tried to stem the flow. The penalty was missed and that was a real let off. From the 22 drop we kicked it long straight into the hands of Josh Britton who just ran the thing back and scored! Thankfully their goal kicker was having a ‘Miss Day’. 20 nil to the home side and I’m not sure if we had been in their half.
With Phillips reintroduced, with some astute advice, Michael Langlands resumed his position on the flank and we managed to get the ball to the middle. Only then did we start to play. Strong runs from Charlie Greswold and Ali Blair gave real hope and showed that Pocklington were not the greatest defensive side. If only we could get and hold onto the ball!
A surging run from Greswold had Pocklington peddling. A series of quick pick-ups and ‘ball out’ saw the Tyneside outfit make ground toward the Pocklington 22. With the home side infringing on the side Percy Park went to the corner for a catch and drive. Or so we thought. Up strode the kicker and duly but it past the wrong side of the post. A kick reminiscent of the York game that had the faithful holding head in hand and the coaching team looking skyward.
The half was all Pocklington but the Black and whites were holding on and had found the Pocklington weak spot. The Yorkshire side were encouraged to keep it tight. We needed the game to be loose. Possession of the ball was paramount and Percy Park started scrapping for every ball. Leo Caulfield took Park deep into opposition territory. Although he lost possession the referee deemed that it had been an ‘illegal’ hand that caused the spill. Penalty to Park. Chasing the score Percy Park elected to kick for the line and…with a sliced kick missed it. Silence. That was until a broad Tyneside voice was heard (on the opposite side of the pitch from the play) “We’d better move lads I think we are in danger of getting hit (with the ball) here’….As the bench, coaching team and supporters grinned we knew the spirit was good. Despite a Pocklington drop goal bringing the half to a close at 23-0, Percy Park realised where to attack and, if we could, had the belief that we could get something from the contest.
23 Nil at the turn.
Ringing the changes Percy Park set off like a rocket. I’m not sure what was said at half time but whatever it was it certainly worked. Park pressed hard and quickly earned them a penalty shot at goal. With Cameron Coates amongst the changes, he stepped forward and dispatched the ball straight between the posts. 23-3.
A long pass from fly half Jimmy Baldwin was well picked up by Ethan Clarke who took a direct line wide of the Pocklington defence. It looked like a ‘Mission Impossible’ but somehow he found himself on the Pock ‘5 metre’ line ably supported by his forward colleagues. The play went to the maul and as Pocklington stood upright, Clarke spun to his left and with a helpful shove he, along with a couple of colleagues, were over the line. Clarke getting the vital touchdown. Up strode Coates and with the try converted 23-10.
Park were having a ‘purple patch’ and in touch. The scrums were still dodgy with plenty of players getting a taste of the turf, but we appeared to be getting the ball out at 8. Clarke dug deep and Deacon listened. Defence was good. Then came ‘swim gate!’ As Park were defending deep, Josh ‘Budgie’ Hedley tried to smuggle himself down the side of a maul to interfere with the ball carrier. With the referee spotting the bulging sack, ‘Budgie’ was penalised for swimming. With hands dramatically thrown to the air the referee responded in kind by using his arms to theatrically mime a person swimming. (I really shouldn’t be writing about this stuff but trust me it’s true’) And whilst this spectacle was taking place Pocklington drove hard at the line to score. The conversion was missed. 28-10 the score. At 13 points behind just maybe at 18 we were not so sure.
We needed a score to stay in touch. Belief remained and Park went to the line out. With ball won Budgie threw an audacious long pass to the onrushing Cameron Coates who burst through the defensive line. With work still to do he sprinted wide past the full back to score. With the conversion out wide it looked a difficult kick. Coates gave the ball a good boot which hit the bar, bouncing on the wrong side of a conversion…..28-15 Pocklington. Back to 13.
At this time the Pocklington coach was having a meltdown encouraging his players to greater effort and to get the ball back to the tight. The next score was crucial. It came Pocklington’s way. Taking note of their coach, Pock went back to keeping the ball and with territorial dominance restored, worked short lines around the ruck. And in doing so kept Park on the back foot. Josh Britton was running from deep and crashing into the line. A crafty offload put a blue and white shirt behind the Park defence. With only the full back to beat the ball carrier was stopped, but his momentum took him over to score in between the posts. Conversion taken 35-15. Heads went down.
A Park tap down at the lineout was pounced on by a Pock forward to notch another try. Conversion taken 42-15.
Percy Park were being battered and picking up injuries. In vital areas passes were being thrown, despite the carrying player not being supported. As the game was coming to its close Park needed one more try to get a bonus point and something to take home back to Tyneside. Percy Park duly obliged with a try from nowhere that owed much too youthful enthusiasm and flair. Throughout the game Andrew Walker, at wing, had seen little of the ball. Certainly not enough to challenge his opposite number. With Park hanging on in the middle Johnny Dubois, facing his posts, picked up a bouncing ball. Changing direction he appeared to go the wrong way into traffic. With a flat pass he picked out Seb Reece who in turn gave the ball to Walker. The winger found himself ‘one-on-one’ with his opposite number. A grubber kick put him past. Supported by Seb Reece the chase was on. Nobody was at home. The defensive cover was attempting to cover the ground. As the ball bounced forward Reece picked up. Reece is quick and he was in at the corner. Try. The roar from the travelling support was loud and the fist pumps exaggerated with relief. The conversion missed 42-20.
Park shipped another try at the end but that didn’t really matter. North One East is very competitive. There are only a few points that separate top from third bottom and a relegation place. With Percy Park and Pocklington almost ‘neck and neck’ in their attempts to avoid that dreaded spot, wrestling a point at a rivals ground is gold dust. And Pocklington knew it. Sending Percy Park back to North Shields with a zero return would have been their preference but it wasn’t to be. Grit and determination to stay in the game was tantamount to Parks character. Next up is Driffield and it’s another huge game against another side who has one eye on the ‘black spot’.
Our second team fared better than last week losing 17-10 to Middlesbrough. As they put 90 on us at the beginning of the season I think we can chalk that one up as a moral victory. Come on Park!!