North One East
Malton & Norton RUFC 10 v Percy Park RFC 26
‘My Boy’ ensures Park travel well.
Enjoying a good run of form Percy Park travelled to ‘The Gannock’ in high spirits, bolstered by some very partisan alikado and vocal mothers support. That energy and exuberance transferred onto the paddock to produce a controlled Percy Park performance, in a game that the ‘Black and Whites’ were never in danger of losing. Malton battled keenly, yet the loss of their half back combination, through injury, made their ‘go forward ball difficult’. The referee allowed the game to flow and in doing so Park picked their moments to go open and fast with devastating effect. It was great to watch for supporter and neutral and for one member of the Percy Park following, produced a moment that will live long in the memory. A moment for the travelling alikados that was a joy to see as that supporter became a ‘dyed in the wool fan’ and as you all know ‘once you are black and white you are always black and white’….so what was that one moment and how did it unfold?…..
The game kicked off in a strengthening breeze that appeared to be flowing across the pitch and one that did not give any real advantage to either side. In the opening 10 minutes Park were dominant. The supporter could see that Malton were having difficulty holding the Park scrum and further could not gain enough pace on the ball to out pass the Percy Park defence. To no great surprise the Malton fly half elected to kick the ball to the corners in an attempt to pin Park back. Wise to the tactic Percy Park dropped their ‘defensive three’ further toward their posts and in doing so collected the ball and ran it back with great success. They did it so well that Park were put into three glorious scoring positions only to….yep you have guessed it….butcher all three !!. One such moment saw player coach Ash Smith throw a ‘hissy’ as the ball cannoned off his toes instead of nestling happily in his hands. An occurrence that was mischievously noted by a silver haired alikado who suggested that our player coach always has two blunders in a game. Could that be one....and if so where would the second occur?
The pressure continued and Malton soon strayed by leaving a hand in the ruck allowing Smith a penalty chance at goal. The attempt looked straight forward yet the wind ensured the ball screwed to the left of the post. Despite the miss spirits were high and the support confident that it was going to be our day.
With the referee allowing both sides a ‘stage’ to play on, a game started to unfold. Strong running from the Yorkshire side’s full back saw him advance up the pitch creating broken play. An attack Park’s full back Ollie Stephenson did well to stem. Mazy runs from Ali Blair created interest and the breakdown was competitive. The Park back row of Langlands, Clarke and Caulfield were combining and playing well. We were on top. It was good to watch and the large crowd was enjoying the game.
The first try came on 26 minutes. A time that proved pivotal in the après game prediction challenge. Park were having great success in holding up their opponents. As the Malton fly half attempted a break out he gave Captain Jonny Dubois the opportunity to hold him up and rip the ball away. The ball was moved very smartly to the right and into the hands of wing Michael Grove. With electric pace he split the Malton cover to score in the corner. The kick from wide out right was missed. 5 nil Park. Thirty minutes in and Percy Park had not given away one penalty.
A great run from wing Andrew Walker saw him hand off two converging Malton players. The crowd were on their feet. The Park support urging him forward with the Gannock crowd wishing him the worst. With tackle made the breakdown was furious with the ball eventually going out of play.
With Malton penned in their half the ‘North Riding’ side (or were we on the East side?) attempted to play out wide. Park squeezed up taking away the ‘magic space’ and in doing so forced the Malton centre to throw long. A long pass that Michael Grove ate up and with the timely interception made hurtled toward the line at a pace akin to the ‘Flying Scotsman’. With no body in sight the player touched down to the right of the posts allowing an easy conversion. 12-0 Park and into the end of the half.
At the turnaround Park started badly. A speculative kick downfield saw a Smith and Walker ‘blunder’ giving Malton the knock on just on the 22 and in doing so allowed our silver haired ‘wag’ a knowing moment. So for the remainder of the game ‘our Ash’ went from being referred to as ‘Love child’ to the new sobriquet of ‘Two Blunders’!
A really good scrummage gave Malton untidy ball and Park were able to clear and the ball went to the line out. With blunders in the air, our revered Captain combined with Leo Caulfield to produce a wonderful line out move. Leaving the Malton hooker in his wake, Dubois attacked the right hand tram line. As the cover came across he had Caulfield on his inside. A quick inside pass would have seen Caulfield ‘one on one’ with the Malton full back complete with a supporting Black and White horde……surely a try would have been on the cards…..a stellar moment….the crowd gasped in anticipation only for our indomitable Captain to drop the ball to his foot and….kick it straight into touch……the admiring gasp quickly went to a ‘Noooooooo’….and our Captain dropped to his knees. Sad to say…but we all laughed!!.....well it was a priceless moment….and after all of that… guess what we returned near to the place where we had the original line out…just as well we were 12 nil up!
With Park back defending, scrum half Jarred Deacon, who had enjoyed a good game was replaced by the emergent Ruairi ‘Rory’ Meharg. With Percy Park defending the sides of a ruck, lock Austin Phillips flew out of the defending line to give away our first penalty in the game for being offside. The kick taken and Malton were on the score board; 3 points to 12. The break in the game allowed Coach Lawrence Patton the opportunity to ‘ring the changes’ as Andrew Walker and Mark Barry were replaced by Josh Hedley and the returning and athletic Ethan Wilson.
With Hedley and Wilson introduced to the pack, both players had an immediate impact by influencing a 30 yard catch and drive that flew toward the Malton line. As the charge was brought to the floor, Park spun to the left and only a fantastic ‘try saving’ tackle from a Malton player prevented the score. Malton defended and defended and as a consequence were rewarded when two Percy Park players ran into each other allowing the home side that precious opportunity to clear their lines. I told you it was good stuff and a great game to watch.
Park’s defending and discipline was good and their scrum dominant. Balls were taken against ‘the head’ and when Malton managed to hook the ball, the push was that forceful all Malton got was a sticky mess at the feet of their number 8. The front row were at ‘the races’ earning Marc Cook a well-earned ‘MOM’ performance.
As the game ebbed and flowed, Malton missed a glorious chance to create something when their winger ‘knocked on’. Ali Blair was having ‘one of those games’ tackling and creating opportunities. One sublime break saw him burst through with no one at home. He looked ‘odds on’ to score only for the ball to behave like a ‘Mexican jumping bean’ with the Park player desperately trying to juggle the ball back to his grasp. As the ball eventually made its way to the floor, credit had to be given to the tackling player, who somehow had managed to knock hand and ball and in doing so robbed Percy Park of a score. Yet that score was not long in the coming and it created that moment!
Scrum Half Rory Meharg was exhibiting some fine passing skills that had both velocity and length. One such pass was taken at pace by fly half Ash Smith. The Park coach crashing through two attempted tackles. Gathering momentum Smith found himself deep in the Malton half with centre Charlie Greswold on his right shoulder. As the Malton full back approached Smith slowed and popped a pass into the willing mitts of Greswold. Sprinting like a runaway train gathering speed Greswold was uncatchable and as he ran, his mother offered her vocal support. The two together were unstoppable and ‘My Boy’ Greswold touched down between the posts to the biggest cheer of the day (and I might say returned to the half way line exhibiting the biggest grin seen for some while) It was a good moment. With kick converted Park were ahead by 16.
Parks final score of the day was the result of some good officiating. Malton knocked on at the line out, with the referee allowing Park the advantage, the ball was spun very quickly to the left. With the centres and wing in the line and Smith looping around, Malton were faced by too many attackers enabling Ash Smith to ‘dab down’ in the left hand corner. Malton 3 Percy Park 26.
As the clock wound down Percy Park were in an unassailable position….all that remained was the après game score prediction and the top prize of a healthy wad. With a couple of Park alikados predicting a Park win (well you never bet against your team…it’s unseemly!) and the time of the first try, only the ‘by 16 points’ needed to be achieved and to do that Malton needed to score and convert. With the sniff of ‘bucks’ in the air allegiances swung. As the Malton winger burst down his right wing a score looked possible. With the home crowd in the bar he needed some support….a quick wish upstairs and the player broke through the tackle to hang onto the ball and score a consolation try. Although the home crowd were despondent two Tyneside senior citizens were not. A healthy debate occurred as to whether the conversion attempt was too far out and too far wide. With fingers crossed the Yorkshire sides kicker created the best boot of the day by sailing the ball between the posts and in doing so a fine exhibition of ceilidh dancing broke out on the side lines. An exuberance that continued into the bar and then onto some dubious den of merriment later on in the evening.
Final score Malton and Norton 10 Percy Park 26.
Congratulations to our Colts side who edged a very competitive match to ‘win through’ to the Northumberland Colts final….well done to all.
The final word of the day has to be from 'that moment'.....it was a joy to see and here is a photo of our latest fan standing proudly with her son.....once black and white always black and white !!