North One East
Bradford and Bingley RFC 25 v Percy Park 14
Park battle the United Nations and fall with the last kick.
The first 15 to 20 minutes of this game Percy Park looked as if they were going to be truly ‘humped’. Before the game Bradford Bees Head Coach quipped that he had been able ‘to secure a number of new players to the club’. Crikey he wasn’t kidding. Park took to the field at Wagon Lane confronted by a team from all four ‘rather large corners’ of the globe. It wasn’t until our own Kev Bottomly (former 1stXV scrum half) turned up to spectate that I actually heard a real Yorkshire voice!!...and for those first few minutes it was ‘head in the hands’ time for the Park faithful. Yet we should not have feared as true Tyneside grit, buoyed by a healthy dose of Viking DNA prevailed and nearly, very nearly, won the game.
Bradford made a blistering start to the contest and showed real physical presence up front. Man of the Match Mu Litaufa led the Bradford line with some real rollicking runs and Park did really well to stop him, and his mate Kati Toupilutu, from creating some serious holes in our rearguard. And in stopping the big men we gave away territory and a penalty.
That penalty was a ‘show stopper’. Not to be outdone by his antipodean brothers, up stepped fly half Lance Taylor to slot an enormous kick from just shy of the half way line. 3-0 to the Bees and 5 minutes played.
On the ‘9’ minute mark Park left a gaping hole behind the ruck, allowing their ‘9’ to skip through and score a converted try. The ‘black and whites’ needed to rally or the author of this illuminating report would be running out of paper and ink!!.....at the score our team looked…irritated…... (I could use other adjectives but this account has to go to print) and we started to play. Park kept the ball and started to hit. For the next 10 minutes we went to the arm wrestle, but showed an outlet with Ali Blair coming into the line from full back and releasing the very speedy Will Robinson at wing. And that combination gave Park ground and space. Sufficient space to allow player coach Ash Smith to feint a cross kick and neatly drop the ball in between the posts.
In fact the feint bamboozled some of the ‘tall faithful’ who thought the kick to the corner was …rubbish…fortunately the referee was ‘on the ball’ and watched the ball sail over the bar…10-3 Bradford.
Park continued to struggle in the scrum and gave penalty opportunities to Bradford. Happily the easiest opportunity was spurned and the next went to the line and the 5 metre mark. Good fortune prevailed and the Bradford hooker sent a dodgy one down the line and Park were able to clear.
A great mazy run from Will Robinson supported by Ali Blair showed promise until the player was bungled into touch. Again Bradford made a mess of the line out. Ball to Park. A ‘smash up’ saw Bradford failing to release giving Smith an easy shot at goal. 10-6.
Now it was time for Bradford to come to the front foot as the game went up and down like a ‘see saw’. A period that saw Immediate Past President and Linesmen Chris Elliot being ridiculed on the line by the Bees support and the referee going down to the floor as if he had been ‘shot by Vasily Zaitsev’. (Look it up readers, look it up!!)
Bradford’s physical presence intensified with that man Litaufa well at the fore as they went to the cannon and the ‘pick and go’. A passage of play that brought reward with a try following a ‘free ball’. The conversion was missed.
At the turn the Yorkshire side were ahead by 15 to 6….yet if Park could keep the ball away from the heavy big pack and get the back line moving we were in with a shout. Fingers crossed.
From the off we went to the scrum. And it went Park’s way. Returning front row ‘tight head’ Andrew ‘Steiners’ Steinburg (he really is from North Shields…might have something to do with the boats I guess!!) worked out his opposite number and with Dan Ward ‘at loose’ working hard, Bradford went down. A series of scrums followed and Park were edging the coalface. Bradford lost the referee and were back pedaling. Bradford felt the pressure and went offside. Another easy kick for Smith. 15-9. Game on.
Percy Park were playing much, much better. Jack Peters at scrum half was having a ‘stormer’ and with the delivery good throughout the backs, Ali Blair was ranging and seizing opportunities to break into the line.
A good knock from Ash Smith saw territory gained. With the line out won Park went inside. Covering the ball well in the ruck Bradford were in a spin. Peters was becoming influential, an observation not only made in the crowd but on the pitch, as an errant Bradford forward committed a ‘professional foul’ by deliberately interfering with the players route back to the base of the ruck. Yellow to the Bees.
The resulting penalty kick went to the line. The catch and drive was there and Park went over for a good score. Unfortunately someone put their mortgage on Smith slotting the kick…and he missed…resulting in Mr. Elliot making a hasty appointment with his bank manager.
The missed kick proved to be a momentum changer. If taken we were a point ahead. Not taken meant we were a point behind at 15-14.
Bradford rallied and came back at Park like an out of control South-Islands tornado. Park held the line and with ball in hand, broke out at real pace. Ross Young dipped, shimmied and bounced off opponents leaving himself ‘one on one’ with the Bradford wing and very little cover at home. Ali Blair tried to ‘make the ground’ but as he did so his hamstring took a pull. Howard Stock got their moments too late and the referee penalised for holding on. Percy Park were literally a pulled hamstring away from scoring (I am very sure) a converted try. Another momentum swinger as Bradford took advantage of the penalty by setting up possession and making good a drop goal of their own. 18-14 Bradford.
Park endeavoured to break free, of a now battering Bradford pack. As we dropped off, penalties followed. Time ebbed to full time. With the penalties came the tension within the faithful’s ranks. Could we hold out and keep the point? Alas we could not and in the last play of the game Bradford went over and with a last kick they converted……..pause for a breath and some French speech….At the whistle 25-14 to Bradford Bees. A loss but a great, great effort from our boys in black!!
Next week its Cleckheaton at home with a 2pm Kick off…yes let’s repeat that it is a 2pm kick off!!...we will be a tweeting to ensure there are no half time whingers