North One East
Percy Park RFC 18 v Driffield RUFC 7
‘Where there is unity there is always victory’
Hallelujah….Percy Park record a win in 2019 and for the supporter it felt a long time in the coming…..once more the faithful breathe and at last the forthcoming working week looks a lot bearable…. even the sun shone brightly on Monday morning. Yes…it really does mean that much to the supporter and to the deity’s upstairs that Percy Park win…..And before you ridicule the author…..just take a minute and recall the many miserable wet Monday mornings that follow a Percy Park defeat!!
This victory owed much to team spirit and shear doggedness in refusing to give in; even when disadvantaged by two yellow cards in the second half. Forty minutes of rugby spent largely a player down or defending our own try line was testament to the unity shown on the pitch; not only in defence but also when we broke out to attack Driffield territory. Not one player took a step backwards and when a player broke there was always another ‘on the shoulder’ to support. Despite mistakes and setbacks, encouragement followed and ‘on and in the line’ responsibility accepted. Marshalled by player coach Ash Smith we looked ‘united’ and as Publilius Syrus is famously quoted ‘Where there is unity there is always victory’. And that was definitely the case on Saturday….the question is can we replicate that level of performance away from home...as we let that question ‘hang’…. just how did this game ‘pan out’?
Percy Park kicked off with their front row restored following our defeat away to Pocklington. With Austin Phillips also returning, Park had a bite in the pack and so it proved as Phillips was used to batter the Driffield line. Park retained the ball well with players supporting the ball carrier enabling the offload. In doing so they created pressure. Driffield were quick to the breakdown but they were leaving the hands in the ruck, deliberately slowing the ball down and making scrum half Jarred Deacons job difficult. It was not too long before the referee lost patience and gave Park a kick at goal in front of the posts. Player Coach Ash Smith accepted the transgression and put Park three points to the good. And it was not long before they scored again.
From the back of a steady scrum, Ethan Clarke picked up and drove into space (a very different experience from the previous week) before passing to the onrushing Mattie Boustead. Driffield stood off allowing Boustead ‘a line’ into the space between the Driffield outside centre and the winger. Committing players, Mattie Boustead delivered a deft pass into the willing hands of Ali Blair. With the easiest of run-ins Blair touched down wide of the left post as the cover galloped across. The conversion wasn’t easy and as a consequence Smith dragged the kick across the face of the goal. 8-0 Park.
Driffield were having trouble getting out of their half as robust tackling from the Park team kept the hemmed in. Great hits from Clarke and Deacon were testament to the hard work that was being carried out. Even when pressed on their line Parks defence was awesome; tackling high on the line forcing Driffield back. As Driff became frustrated they elected to try the long pass or a cross kick. Both attempts to break the stranglehold were thwarted. And when Park regained possession Smith kicked long, turning defence into attack. Tackles were flying in. The physicality of this league is not for the faint hearted.
With Driffield looking to spoil at the back of the ruck, Ali Blair drifted across to pick the ball out and attack the centre. With Austin Phillips supplying the muscle Park went deep into the Driffield 22.Sterling work from Deacon delivered the ball to Seb Rees, who put in a quick pass to Cameron Coates. Coates was flying and soon made a dive for the line scoring wide in the left corner. Not only was Coates flying so was Charlie Greswold. The Park centre bundled over by a despairing Driffield defender. Left with an, arguably, more difficult conversion than last, Smith despatched the ball high and importantly over the bar. A fine kick. 15-0 Park
Park were playing well and the unity within the side was more than evident. As Leo Caulfield found out to his advantage as he tried to mix it with the largest Driffield forward on the playing field!
Ethan Clarke was a menace at 8. As Driffield went to ground Clarke was over or enveloping man and ball, driving his team forward. And his colleagues responded in kind. Driffield retained the ball well but the tenacity of the ‘black and white’ side saw the ball turned over on more than one occasion.
The centre partnership of Greswold and Rees is developing and there is a good understanding between the pair as a series of quick passes caused consternation in the Driffield middle. As the game progressed Driffield needed to hold the ball in the forwards and Park needed the ball out to exploit their advantage ‘in the backs’. A quick throw in and return nearly saw Maximus Dubois over the line. It was all Park pressure. Driffield continued to spoil by attempting to slow the play on the floor and again they were penalised. With a kick given in front of the posts ,just outside the 22, Smith strode up and put the ball between the uprights. 18-0 to Park.
As the half came to a close Park wasted a few opportunities by either a poor line out, dropping or failing to hold on to the ball in key areas. Yet it was far better than in previous weeks. And the faithful were not complaining. 18-0 at the half.
Driffield started the stronger. Percy Park were guilty of miscommunication, with passes failing to go to hand or falling behind the player. There was no recriminations only encouragement and Park stuck to their task. With Mark Barry and Aidan Phillips on, Park had a youthful look and this energy had Park ‘on the front foot’. Only a returning Driffield player, who collected a Jared Deacon pass to his back line, prevented a Park sortie to the whitewash. The ref ruled that the Yorkshire player was in open play and Driffield turned defence into attack. A super covering tackle from Ali Blair brought the advancing Driffield openside to the floor. Driffield came over the ball and appeared to be ‘sealing off’ and as a consequence retained and sent the ball wide. A very flat pass put their winger in and as he drove to the line the Park cover got to him.
With the referee adjudging that full back Mattie Boustead was slowing the play, Driffield went to the penalty advantage. ‘7’ rolled and went to the post. Park held him up and we returned to the penalty. It was frantic stuff. The ref went to the card and Driff went to the corner. As the throw came in Park stole the ball and Clarke set off, taking his team away from the try line. Great defence from Park but Driffield had shown intent.
The contact and scrum were fiercely contested and the banter between the players loud. Michael Langlands soon found himself on the wrong side of the referee for what appeared to be ungentlemanly conduct. The referee began to reverse decisions. The scrum area seemed to go to pot as the game went and then stopped and went and then stopped. It didn’t bother Percy Park as they remained a player down but we were having to work hard for each other.
Percy Park did their utmost to keep the ball in the Driffield half, using the corners and the crash ball to great effect. And then the game turned. With Austin Phillips and Ethan Clarke driving deep into the 22 the ball came out to Smith. Caulfield went as the dummy runner and Smith gave the pass to the marauding Ali Blair who had come off his wing looking for such an opportunity. He was through, the crowd thought he was through to score, the Driffield support thought Blair was in, only the referee believed that he wasn’t! Blowing up for an offence of crossing, the play was stopped and Percy Park lost the chance ‘to put the game to bed’ and, as it happened, the moment to push on and contest for a bonus point win.
With numbers restored it was the Yorkshire side that was galvanised by the disallowed score and immediately put Percy Park under pressure. Ali Blair was caught offside and as a consequence the referee spoke to Captain Dubois and warned him that Percy Park’s penalty count was starting to rise. Parks discipline was questioned. Driffield went to the corner and threw long to the back. The catch was clean and came to the maul. Driff drove to the try line. Park were immediately penalised as Austin Phillips went in on the side. Yellow card. Although you could dispute that Parks penalty count was high, in all honesty, you couldn’t dispute the identity of the offender as Austin Phillips and a Driffield player continued to writhe on the floor contesting the ball long after the whistle had gone. Well you can’t say Austin’s not committed to the cause! Back to 14 players.
Driffield attacked. Percy Park defended. Driff stretched and probed and eventually got the ball to the try line. With penalty advantage they went for the base of the right hand post. Johnny Dubois held the player up. With support the Driffield player went back before he in turn was driven forward. A shrill whistle and the play stopped. Try awarded as the Driffield team were adjudged to have got the ball over the line. There was momentary confusion as many were unaware that a try had been scored believing that a penalty try or a penalty had been given. That confusion was duly put to rest as the Driffield side took the ball back to the conversion point and duly slotted the kick.18-7 to Percy Park.
Both teams were warned re core values and the game ebbed and flowed. Time went. Driffield continued to attack and Park continued to hold them at bay. Parks ball retention was good and the clock ticked down. Yet there was still time for some excitement as Ali Blair split the Driffield defence with a slicing run. With a ‘shimmy here and a shimmy there’ he was deep into the Driffield 22 before the cover brought him to earth. The crowd were on their feet. Unfortunatly some couldn’t see as a silver haired alikado sporting a North Korean dictator’s haircut kept getting in the way. Back to the action. Park recycled and spun the ball left and right probing for that gap. They were on their game and having been released from the pressure of defending their line looked for a final flourish. Penalty as Driffield removed the ball from a ruck. Smith elected to kick the given misdemeanour. Passions calmed. Regrettably the kick drifted wide of the furthermost cricket pitch. A quick kick forward at the 22 drop out had Park chasing before Blair wrapped up the attacking player in a solid hit. Keeping the Driffield man upright, support came thick and fast and as a consequence the attack petered out.
Final score Percy Park 18 Driffield 7.
This was a great performance by Percy Park and the recording of the same would not have happened if it wasn’t for the kind loan of Lindsey Langland’s pen. In the excitement my biro decided to self-destruct much to the amusement of all as they were assailed by bits of pen! Thank you Lindsey……but lets leave the final word on the game with our player coach Ash Smith
" Mint to finally win in 2019. Our work in the week was on our defence and today it was dominent. We stayed high with lots of energy. We attacked well in the first half to get our 18-0 lead. Bit disappointed not to get a bonus point because I felt we had more in us"
Our second team did well beating a strong Northern outfit by 66 points to 12….just shows what we can do when we can get our players onto the pitch. Next week the First XV have a break followed by a trip to Consett ….I hope to see you all there…..Come on Park