North One East
York RUFC 15 v Percy Park RFC 35
Park do the loco-motion and derail York
On a very wet day Percy Park travelled down to Clifton Park wondering whether a game might be played. That thought did not leave us as many a York side street was awash with the liquid stuff and was further underpinned by the sight of the York grandees in wellies, armed with garden forks, attempting to drain water from the 1st XV pitch. After much forking the pitch was deemed to be playable and Park knuckled down to the task at hand. Our beloved ‘black and whites were largely unchanged from their feisty, albeit victorious, encounter with West Hartlepool and that continuity of selection proved decisive as Percy Park put in a performance that could arguably rank as their best of the season. So how did Park perform and how much did the returning Jonny, now known as ‘The Influencer’, Dubois effect that result?
The game began in frantic style with both teams testing and probing the other. York resplendent in a shade of Pink (much liked by the farming meets City types) attempted to move the ball quickly and stretch Park early. Percy Park, bedecked in industrial black and white hoops, soaked up and contained. Jack Peters at full back was reading the game well, gathering, collecting and distributing allowing Park to riposte. The game ebbed and flowed.
On the sixteen minute mark Michael Birkett was adjudged to have held on. York kicked to the 5 metre. With line out won York attempted to go wide. Park’s defensive game was good and York were held, eventually ‘knocking the ball on’ in front of our posts. Although York had the edge in the scrum we had the put in and should have cleared. To the travelling faithful’s surprise York destroyed our eight and we lost the ball….that loss proved costly. York went tight and battered our line. Park infringed and a quick tap from the York scrum half had the home side over for a try. Duly converted 7-0.
And it was from this point that Park impressed. A great restart from Ash Smith was gathered up and Park went through the hands immediately putting York under pressure. Andy Dunn at ‘8’ was very vocal in marshalling ‘the pack’ as they inched their way deep into home territory. Park were ‘knocking at the door’. A break from Ruairi Meharg created space.
Josh Hedley took the ball on and went over. Not given. Park went to the scrum. This time we held our ball, just, and went wide. We probed and pushed but could not get the ball down. York were pushing the boundaries of the offside line and were duly punished with a yellow card. Ash Smith elected to punish the miscreant with the kick.7-3.
Park were playing well. The set piece from the lineout was good, the only downside was the scrum. York were better placed in that department and our inability to match the home side was giving them easy ball to play with or resulted in a kick to our line. One such misdeed saw York kick to our posts. Fortunately the strike was missed.
A high ball was brilliantly taken by Jack Peters. At the catch he drifted through the York defence creating attack from defence. Park looked great in the loose and around the ruck and maul, but that scrum was causing the team problems.
On thirty two minutes Austin Phillips came off the bench and into ‘the row’. Not that he had an immediate impact in the scrum department as a ‘knee to the floor’ gave York another kick at our posts. This time they did not miss. 10-3.
With the game running down to the half, Park began to run afoul of the referee. Confusion reigned as decisions made were not understood or communicated. A deliberate slap of the ball ‘out of play’ by a home player was not punished or was it? Pushing their frustration down, Park rolled up their sleeves and battled on. Some awesome tackles from Captain Seb Reece and Ash Smith had the York back line making errors. With Dunn, Michael Birkett and Austin Phillips hitting well around the ruck you could see the tide of the game tipping in Parks favour. When the next scrum went down and Park took the same against the head you knew then, that this game was ours, if we were brave enough to take it.
Half time 10-3 to York and their coach adorned in flip flops in the wet was having a moment. The chat amongst the faithful was all about falling off horses.
With Ethan Wilson on at the turn Park were immediately ‘at the game’. A powerful break from Andrew Steinburg, followed by a loping run by Josh Hedley set the tone.
A Jack Peters ‘skip and hop’ put winger Ali Blair in space. Blair carved his way through from the right on his inside left shoulder leaving the York defence clutching ‘at air’. Try converted 10-all.
York came back and missed a penalty that just drifted wide of the post. A penalty given for holding on in the tackle. Probably unnecessary, as our defence was good as was our clean out and in truth the miss was a bit of a let off. Fortunately the momentum of the game did not turn and York remained on the rack. Only a superb tackle on Ollie Stephenson broke play up and a potential score. With the scrum getting better and better; we even took a second ‘against the head’. York were creaking. Just outside their 22 York infringed for holding on in an attempt to slow down the game. Penalty awarded and Smith put Park ahead by 3.
A York huddle seemed to calm nerves. A cute offload put their ‘8’ in possession and he made some heavy yards that attracted a penalty. York elected to run the free ball, before stout defence and a knock on brought the advantage to an end. Returning to the kick at goal, the ball was struck well, but like the previous attempt, the strike drifted wide.
As York chased the game they gathered a long kick from Ash Smith and kept the ball in hand. A long pass in the middle was intercepted by Seb Reece who took off like a greyhound at ‘The Fossway’ scoring wide in the corner. A difficult kick was missed.10-18.
A cracking run by Josh Hedley, although curtailed, had the York team arguing. They didn’t look up for the battle and the ‘crowd in the stand’ sensed it. To make matters worse ‘The Influencer’ strutted on to the field of play and the intensity of the physical went up a notch. Park were in command and playing really well. The back row of Leo Caulfield, Andrew Dunn and Jake Smith were snuffing out York attempts to break free. York received a break and were given that ‘get out of jail card’ when Austin Phillips was judged to have hit his man a ‘tad too late’. Austin admitted that he was a little too excited. With Phillips dispatched to the bench for ‘10’ a quick look at the clock showed ‘14 to go’. The resulting kick to the line was poor and the away side regained possession. The home crowd grumbled, eliciting a response from one of the home players ‘’ Nice advice. You can put a shirt on if you like’’.
Despite being down to 14 Park were so much in control that we played the game on York’s try line. A late tackle on Dunn drew the penalty but no card. Never the less Smith despatched the ‘3’. Park ahead at 10 to 21. Five minutes to go. With the time ebbing York had one last surge breaking through a tackle by Ali Blair and then by Jack Peters, before an offload to their pacey left wing. A score, forced out to the corner, made the conversion difficult. 15-21; in that precise second the author had a colourful thought and a mental picture of that game away at Morely (if you were there you know what I mean!!).
With fingers crossed Smith restarted and we gathered the ball. A grandstand hit from Michael Birkett put York players to the floor and with numbers and gaps Ash Smith made no mistake in dotting over for the try. With the conversion taken; 15-28 and we were back to 15 players. A really good response.
Ali Blair came off to some healthy stick, with coach Lawrence Patton subbing the player as he had got past 70 minutes ‘just in case’’. Park were in good spirits. And it didn’t end there. York were penalised for holding on and in return gave the referee some lip and then some more and back they went. Ash Smith kicked to the line and Park went to the ‘catch and drive’. York then pulled down and stuck their hands in. Another penalty and again to the line. With ball gathered Park hammered and Josh Hedley picked up and went over for a try. A try Smith converted to end the game by 15 points to 35 and as the author looked around, the stand had emptied, leaving the faithful standing on their own.
A great team performance that ‘past’ Captain Jonny Dubois was quick to ensure his part was not forgotten and at some point made it to ‘print’. It’s great to see him and Austin Phillips back and playing again. For the statisticians amongst us we had 6 players in our team from the last fixture against York and that shows how well and how important our youth system is to our club. York had 7 players from that same fixture.
Our Lions team also had a cracker beating Blaydon Georgians by 21 points to 12.
A slow start allowed a Blaydon score in the left hand corner following some good work up the short side and some indifferent defending. Ex Percy Park colt Johnson converted from the touchline. 0-7 to Blaydon. Park responded well, their physicality winning contests all over the field of play. Our work at the scrum was ‘dominant’ winning several against the head. A flowing move by the backs saw Jimmy Baldwin go over, tying the score at 7all. Back came Blaydon and following a series of penalties they went over wide out to the corner at the Golf club end .This time Johnson was off target,12-7 Blaydon.
The returning Sean Williamson was making ground on every carry. Aiden Phillips and the young Matty Orrick also looking very good in attack. Pressure built that saw Sean Williamson go over for his first try 14 -12 Park at half time.
At the restart Park came out of the blocks and battered Blaydon. At one stage they had three players down with injuries and had to go uncontested. This actually gave Williamson even more freedom and he made multiple carries one of which resulted in his second try. Duly converted by Finlay Kidd. 21-12. Frustration crept in to the Blaydon game and fly half Johnson began to kick or chip the ball away.
Defensive chatter of Howard Stock throughout and an outstanding team performance brought about a well-deserved victory.
And on that youth note a big Percy Park ‘Well done’ to Sam Digman (17), making his senior debut for Lions. Also a mention for another six U18s who made senior debuts for the Pumas as we put 53 players out this weekend.
No game next weekend as it’s a free week…well no game that really matters unless you can call England v South Africa in the World Cup Final an important game? well its not Percy Park is it..... joking aside games on at the club ..kick-off is at 9am