‘Rub of the green’ evades Park
North One East
Huddersfield YMCA RUFC 34- Percy Park 17
This was a game Park should have won, and if a few key decisions had been given in their favour would have won, but somehow that decision tempest blew in the face of a deserving second half effort that left the Park players and supporters looking to the skies and asking some very relevant questions as to how they had left the Laund Hill ground with nothing to show for that effort. On points deferential this game was a definite game of two halves with Park seemingly ‘down and out’ on the turn yet territory wise Park were dominant and if it wasn’t for a Huddersfield twenty minute ‘purple patch’ in the first half the home side really did not look like winning.
Percy Park kicked off on a grey Huddersfield day and started the brighter of the two, immediately placing the Huddersfield pack under pressure. A good start. Huddersfield creaked and they kicked the ball away aimlessly for Park to regain territorial advantage. Huddersfield were defending deep and could only clear their lines. Instead of holding onto the ball Park kicked their possession away and let Huddersfield off the hook and instead of playing in the home sides half Park found themselves defending a line out on the 22. From the resulting throw Park were in on the ruck and appeared to have claimed the ball only for the referee to have adjudged that Park 8 Michael Langlands had 'failed to use' his arms in the tackle area. A fairly easy penalty was taken and Park were behind. Panic not we looked alright and for the next 15 minutes Park were in the ascendency. A fantastic Lome Faatau run carved open the Huddersfield defence and with wing Kieran Sutherland in support a try looked on the cards. Yet somehow the ball was dropped and much to the relief of the Huddersfield support the ball was cleared. For the home side it was ‘backs to the wall’ stuff and they stuck in with some scramble defence that prevented a Park score. As the defence was resolute the ruck area became a battlefield that saw several penalties awarded to the Home side and enabled Huddersfield to kick themselves out of trouble and deep into Park territory.
With 20 minutes played Park found themselves on a long jog back from the Huddersfield half defending another line out on their 22. On this occasion Huddersfield kept the ball in the forwards and the resultant ‘catch and drive’ saw Huddersfield’s Jack Housley force his way over. With the conversion taken Park were 10 points down. The Park support were still not concerned, one score from ourselves and we were off. We just needed to put our heads down and continue what we were doing.
In explicably Park began kicking possession away and in the resulting contact area the Park forwards were not getting the ‘rub of the green’ and crucial possession time was lost. Huddersfield had two very good players in centres Stead and Andrade and with the pressure off they began to control the game. With ball in hand they made several deep penetrating runs and with good lines brought their wings into the game asking questions of the Park defence. The Huddersfield mantra was to get the ball into the midfield. One such play saw the centre pairing work the Percy Park blindside before releasing left wing Bullock who kicked well ahead to see the ball bounce into touch. With Parks line out ‘in the red zone and in the pressure pot’ Huddersfield forced a scrum pushing Park over the line. With the conversion added Park were 17 points down.
In trying to force the game Park continued to let Huddersfield off the hook and you could see the referee becoming frustrated with some Park back chat. The next try came as they had previously…play in Huddersfield half, give the ball or a penalty away and find ourselves deep in our 22 defending and so Huddersfield extended their lead when Jack Housley went over for his second try of the game.
On the half another penalty against saw Stead slot over. He was having a great game and certainly had his kicking boots on missing nothing. At the turn Huddersfield were 27 points to the good. Park looked 'down and out' yet you felt just one score and we could make a game of it. Fingers crossed for an early score.
‘Cometh the hour cometh the man’…..With minutes on the clock Michael Grove received the ball on the halfway line and darted through the Huddersfield defence. With centre Charlie Creswold in support Grove was able to release his colleague and 'put him in' wide at the corner. The difficult conversion was not taken. Never mind we were ‘on the board’.
The game then settled into its familiar pattern, Park having possession and territory before a penalty or a kick gave away the advantage. Then that ‘rub of the green’ reared its head. Michael Langlands was through with several players chasing and as he went to place the ball behind for a supporting player a Huddersfield hand flipped the ball away. The resulting scrum given Huddersfield’s way. Yet the holes were there to exploit. Run straight and direct; Huddersfield were tiring. Frustration. Yet ‘Cometh the hour cometh the man’ …Michael Grove made another piercing run and with prop Joe Wafer on his left shoulder the ball was duly given. Three immense hand offs saw Wafer ‘barn storm’ over the line. Unfortunately the conversion could not be taken.
Then controversy with Park battering the Huddersfield line second row Josh Hedley reached out and grounded the ball over the try line. Park hands up for the score. The Huddersfield defence pile in and the ball bobbles forward. A knock on was awarded. This was the ‘if only’ moment. A score here with time on the clock and well…….although during that period Huddersfield’s Will Perfitt was shown a yellow card for illegally slowing the ball at the ruck.
Not to be denied replacement scrum half Jimmy Baldwin entered the fray and started to take control pushing and probing. Keeping the ball tight Baldwin took the Park pack into the Huddersfield 22 and with a simple dummy he ‘scooted’ across the home sides try line giving Grove an easy conversion. The score line 27-17 albeit with only 5 minutes to play.
From the kick off Huddersfield challenged and Park held on. The play was frantic. Park worked the ball out of their 22 and Lome Faatau put Sutherland in space with a fine pass. The young winger was off. Whistle blew. Forward pass. From the resulting scrum Huddersfield went left to right putting centre Jordan Andrade into the corner. And with a difficult conversion up stepped Stead to bang it over. Score 34-17…talk about ‘rub of the green’…With Park at 3 tries and time running out the game could not be won yet a bonus point could be gained if they could get that final try.
The last play of the game saw Park with ball in hand and with Sutherland coming from deep he was through the line and attacking the whitewash. With Caulfield in support the pass given. Caulfield thought he had scored only for the whistle to be blown as his foot was in touch…. and....... match over.
A great second half effort from a side with real resilient qualities yet we are going to have to get those marginal decisions in our favour if we are to avoid relegation….anybody listening up there!!!
On a happier note congratulations to Percy Park U16’s who had 12 players representing Northumberland in a recent game versus Cumbria. They are Sam Digman, Leon Scott, Matt Orrick, Luke Forster, Cameron McDonald, Lewis Howe, Dan Dryden, Thomas Moore, Josh Grayson, Isaac Nokes, Jamie Diamond and Jack Allen on collecting their County ties. Let’s hope we some of the above names in our senior sides in the very near future.