North One East
Percy Park RFC 30 v Morley RUFC 34
Ricky ‘hands’ out the cards as Park are dealt a home loss.
The Percy Park coaching team described this game as a ‘Frustrated Loss’. That frustration was felt by many throughout the ground and was evident in the player’s faces as they departed the hallowed turf of Preston Avenue. The contest was full of emotion that flickered from high to low dependent on which side of the fence your allegiance stood. The Morley support ended on a high having suffered some very anxious moments en route to the last frantic 5 minutes of the game; whereas the Park faithful went from an expectant high, to a crushing low, as they endured the last 5 minutes in a state of anxiety. Everyone played their part, including the referee Ricky Handa, in insuring that no one took their eyes off the pitch in case they missed a moment; a moment in many moments of high drama. Four yellow cards, three to Percy Park and one to Morley was testament to a fiercely fought contest….so how did this game reach its boiling point?
Park started quick…very quick, with Fly half Ash Lovechild controlling the play and pinging the ball into the corners of Morley’s 22. With Morley turned, Park were camped in the opposition 22 with a steel like vice on the game. A grip that soon resulted in a Charlie Greswold try as Lovechild chipped over the ‘Maroons’ defence, creating a ‘one on one’ with the Morley full back. A contest won by the grinning Greswold. With the conversion taken. 7 nil Park.
Percy Park continued to play the ball behind Morley, forcing the away side to play out. Great defence held the visitors in their half. Wing Andrew Walker was unlucky not to hold onto an interception that would have put him clear and in for a score.
The scrum was evenly contested with Park getting the edge. The kick and chase was equally as good. Park looked and were playing with real home confidence. Morley could not break out. A tap tackle brought Lovechild to the floor as the line opened up deep in the 22. The second row pairing of Saint and Phillips was having a ‘stormer’. Both players were everywhere and coupled with a mobile back row Park ‘were at the races’. It was hard to see where Morley were going to influence the game.
As Percy Park failed to assert their dominance into points the wheel would sure turn. A series of penalties against saw Park being penalised into their own 22. Despite winning the line out Park couldn’t gather. A fortunate knock on went to the scrum and Park elected to play out. Morley caught Percy Park just over the 5 metre line. Holding the ball up the visitors were awarded the ‘put in’. A further penalty gave them a ‘free ball’ and taking advantage they reversed the point of play sending Morley wing Scott Turner over for the try. The try was unconverted .7-5 Percy Park.
A penalty from Lovechild gave Percy Park a 5 point lead. A lead that was further extended by centre Charlie Greswold. As Morley attacked along the ‘Grandstand’, Captain Johnny Dubois wrapped up the driving player forcing Morley into the ruck. With defence set Greswold was ready to contest the pick and go. As the player went Greswold stole the ball from the Morley grasp (or did it just bounce?) and with a grimace (see photo) set off down the line with real determination. Outsprinting the opposition, the only thing the Morley left wing could do was to force Greswold away from the posts. With the ‘touch down’ made the conversion sailed between the posts. 17-5 the score.
Penalty trouble put Park into the 22 defending a line out on their 5 metre line. As Park came off their line a dummy runner attracted the tackler and created the space. With the Morley centre through he went ‘one on one’ with Mattie Boustead. Boustead made the tackle but was unable to prevent the off load and the score. Conversion taken 17-12.
Park were not getting the 50-50 decisions and soon found themselves in further trouble as prop Michael Birkett was sin binned for some technical offence in the scrum. Park were down to 14. Michael Langlands dropping into the front row. The game became frustrating for player and supporter as the whistle started to influence the pattern and direction of the game.
An exchange of penalties saw the half time score at 20-15 to the home side.
Again Park started quickly and a fine run by prop Michael Birkett was ended by a penalty decision against for ‘killing the contest’. Park appeared to be unable to get the ‘Gan’ forward and in failing to do so, get the necessary rhythm into their game.
Parks defence stood firm as Morley’s No 8 was starting to assert his influence with some fine surges and vocal control of his forward pack. Park needed a spark, and that duly arrived with a ‘sparkling’ try from Mattie Boustead. A try that owed much to the ‘nounce’ shown by the vastly experienced Ali Blair. Encouraging fly half Ash Lovechild to attack the space in his direction, Ali Blair loitered on his wing before changing direction placing himself on the right shoulder for the offload. With Michael Langlands providing the support, and eager hands, he in turn popped a pass to Mattie Boustead. Boustead was flying. Targeting the defenders weaker shoulder he ghosted through the line to score. Try converted 27-15 Park.
From the restart Morley were well entrenched in the Park 22, aided by some technical infringements in the Park front row. Infringements that seemed to attract penalty after penalty. The scrum was wheeling to the Morley left. Players were being penalised for being offside and further penalised for not being straight. From the spectators view it was hard to see what was going on. I guess we will leave that to the coaching team. A try to Morley followed. Park were unable to hold out and received the ultimate punishment for their transgressions. With the try converted 27-22.
It is important to acknowledge the number of penalty awards made in Parks red zone. The events that occur after this period of play definitely had a consequence on the numerical advantage of numbers in the game.
Park reclaimed the restart and with Greswold showing real intent, Percy Park enjoyed a good period of ball retention that nearly saw Ali Blair over the line for a score. Park pressed the line and were working hard. The Morley 7 came flying out of the line before the ball had gone from the back of a ruck. Penalty Park. The Morley player being offside. As the ball came to a halt a ‘little dust up’ flared up before the referee took all to the kick. With Lovechild electing to take the points, Percy Park moved to ‘more than one score away’. 8 points advantage. Game on.
The restart went long and ‘TooTall’ got his hands on the ball. A bollocking run up field with knees higher than a ‘Moulin Rouge’ dancer ended with a dignified fall to the floor that a was more akin to ‘Swan Lake’ than the ‘can-can’. Still the player retained the ball and attracted the penalty. Park went to the corner and lost the lineout to a ‘not straight call’. Good ground had been lost however we were still in the green zone. As the scrum set. All looked good. The ball was put in and the scrum wheeled again to the Morley left. Park were penalised for wheeling or was that for not being straight or was that for not being square. Further ignominy followed as prop Mark Cook was given a yellow card. Confusion reigned as Cook didn’t look as if he had moved. A card that was given on the back of the previous penalties awarded in our red zone minutes earlier from which Morley had scored. Park were reduced to 14 bodies.
With numerical advantage Morley came at Park with gusto flying into the rucks from all angles. Park were on the 5 metre line. A Morley player flew in at the side clearing players away and leaving the scrum half exposed. Blair came through the middle and got hands on the player and the ball. A shrill whistle and Ali Blair received a yellow card for interfering with the ‘9‘at the back of the ruck. Percy Park reduced to 13.
Morley went to the scrum and with the ball at the 8’s feet, little steps drove his pack toward the line. The scrum went to the Morley left (again). Another whistle. Penalty try against Park for not being straight or was that not being square. To the observer many were asking what was really going on in there. Still he’s the man in the middle. No argument and on we go. 30-29 the score.
From the kick off Lovechild kicked it dead. Back to the scrum. Wheeled again to the Morley left. Penalty against Park. Morley went down the pitch received another penalty advantage before flinging the ball wide to the left to score, utilising their two man numerical advantage in the corner. With the conversion out wide, the attempt was missed. Morley had the lead for the first time in the game. 30-34.
Defending deep Park turned over the ball and set away up the pitch with real speed and guile. A great kick from Lovechild took the play up to the Morley 5 metre line. Morley could not clear their lines. Park were at it and playing some of the best rugby in the game. Despite being numerically down the ball was being moved toward the Morley line and that was where it all started to get frantic, passionate, frustrating and any other word that could describe ‘high drama’.
Park took a line out that looked to have been pulled down yet they ploughed on attracting a free ball. A free ball which Lovechild cross kicked high in the air toward the left wing. With Boustead advancing, the Morley winger and Park full back contested the ball in the air. Both players collided and the ball fell to Michael Grove coming around the back to score in the corner. Or so he thought. With Boustead adjudged to have interfered with the Morley winger in the air the play was brought back to the penalty award and Park were restored to a full complement of players.
Avoiding the scrum Park went to the line out and to the back. A ‘peel off’ saw Park drive to the line with pace and over they went, only for the referee, who was well positioned, to judge that the ball had been held up. Back to the scrum. Ethan Clarke picked up at the back and ran and dived over the line. The ‘Theatre of Dreams’ erupted and the players celebrated the score. Or so they thought. The referee adjudged the player had been held up and we went to another 5 metre scrum. This time it wasn’t so clean and Park went backwards. Regaining their shape the ball went to the back of a ruck. Anxious to get off his line the Morley 7 went offside preventing the play. Yellow card and the player stormed off the pitch. It was tense, very, very, very tense. Actually you could hardly watch it!!
With minutes on the clock a penalty kick could not win the game. Park had to go to the scrum and attempt to get over the line. The pick-up took Clarke to the left and into the Morley defence; then it was pick and go all the way to the Morley posts. Park were playing well and Morley’s defence was brilliant. Could they hang on? The hits were ferocious.
Park had numbers to the right. Lovechild picked and went and was caught before the line. Driven back he held on. Blair took it on and drove hard. Cook and Phillips followed. Josh Hedley got his hands on the ball and went. Stopped on, or just in front of the line, the referee called him short (he isn’t really he’s actually 6ft 7) and then penalised the player for holding on. With the ball cleared the final whistle blew with Morley cheering and the Tyneside team glum.
It was a great game for the neutral to watch unfortunatly none of us were neutral and the Morley support left on a high as the faithful were crushed. Still the bar games resulted in a fine Park victory as the Morley team were put to the sword.
Last week I made mention of manners and I wish to remind our supporters that we are there to support win or lose. So I kindly ask …please refrain from social media comments and remember it is rugby union and not that other sport!
For many the referral to Ash Lovechild will cause confusion…do not worry Mr Smith will be reverting back to his real name in the next report. ...a certain alikado informed me that he was sick of seeing Mr Smith’s name every third line….and in front of others jokingly referred to him as my Lovechild…so I thought Mr Lockey might enjoy seeing the name Lovechild every third line…and to that well known Smith personality I leave the final word and in doing let him sum up the game for us all
“Frustrated loss! Calls didn’t go our way but we put ourselves in that position with poor discipline. We did play some good stuff just they kept us out when it counted!”….Quite!!
Our second team played well on Friday night losing out to Morpeth and our Third XV surpassed all the weekends results with a thumping 76-7 win over Seghill
Next game is away to Bridlington.