Valuable 5 points for Park
North One East
Percy Park 33- Malton&Norton 27
Percy Park gained a valuable 5 point win over relegation rivals Malton and Norton due to the hard work by club volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure that the game could go ahead in spite of the hard frost that had appeared overnight. Yet the Park players nearly undid all their hard work by ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ in a 90 second spell at the end of the game that had supporters and alikados reaching for the pitch side defibrillator. However with the final whistle blown the relief around the Preston Avenue ground was tangible, even ‘Compo and Clegg’ were smiling, and the team could finally congratulate themselves for putting in a good performance that resulted in a much needed win.
The game proved to be an exciting affair from start to finish. A game that the neutral would have loved, with the match ebbing and flowing from one end to another. From the kick off the importance of the game was evident and Malton fly half Luke Raduva led the way by pouncing on a loose ball on the half way line and setting off at pace toward the Percy Park goal. With desperate scramble defence Park made the tackle and in doing so gained the ball and cleared their lines attacking deep into the Malton half. The frenetic tone was set. With 5 minutes on the clock Park secured a line out on the Malton 22 and a fine rolling maul saw Captain Jonny Dubois over the line for the first score of the day. With the conversion taken hope abounded.
Park continued at pace continually asking questions of the Malton defence. The Park forwards were punching holes and creating space for the backs to work in. Prop Joe Wafer was at the fore and the Malton team were struggling to contain his power and pace. With a little bit of composure keeping the ball instead of kicking it away might have seen Park add to the early score far earlier than they did. As the half progressed to its mid-point Percy Park contested and won a ruck just outside of their 22.The ball was shipped right to left with centre Phil Morse moving the ball inside to full back Jamie Wrigley who hit the line at real pace. A missed tackle saw Wrigley eat into space to set up wing Toby Davison who in turn passed inside to centre Seb Reece to make the score. Exciting stuff. With the score out wide the conversion was missed.
With ball in hand Park were playing good rugby and it was only some desperate and brave defence from Malton that kept the home side at bay. Then that lack of composure reared its head and Park took a risk. Despite a numerical advantage a slight gap was seen and Park tried to break through. Yet the gap that was quickly disappeared and in the resulting maul the ball was lost and Malton surged through the now disorganised Park defence. Despite a valiant chase back, the ball ended up in the impressive hands of the Malton full back Zweli Sodladia who fed his winger Vus Dyantijes. Dyantijes was able to cross in between the posts to set up an easy conversion.
Not to be out done Park responded immediately with a Morse penalty kick that took his team deep into the Malton half. Park were dominant in the line out and it was no surprise when Josh Hedley rose to set up a catch and drive that took Jonny Dubois over for his second try of the game. The conversion was narrowly missed yet referee Simon O’Neill, believing that the ball had gone over, awarded Park the conversion. A fact missed by player and supporter alike.
At the turn it was 19-7 to Park. Albeit everybody thought it was 17-7.
Yet the half did not suit Percy Park. With Jamie Wrigley leaving the game with cramp and a few changes in the pack, Park started the slower of the two. Mistakes in possession turning the ball over to Malton and Norton.
Five minutes into the half Malton turned over Percy Park possession and a great defence splitting pass from centre Rob Armitage set Sodladia into the line. Sodladia picking out his compatriot Dyantijes to score. With the conversion taken it was game on.
Park had to settle. The forward pack driven on by Michael Langlands started to create pressure that resulted in Malton being on the back foot and giving away penalties in the ruck area. And that sound bit of calming rugby saw the forwards efforts awarded when a penalty was kicked to the corner. With line out secure and with a ‘free ball’ Park brought Michael Grove into the line with a long pass that had the Malton defence grabbing thin air. Grove was over and with some aplomb, converted his own try.
Malton were able to reduce the arrears with a well taken penalty. Yet that small reverse galvanised Park who went immediately to the away end and were awarded their own penalty in front of the posts. Take the kick the crowd begged….but no a quick tap and into that gap again…. the Park player was off and as in the first half the gap just disappeared. The ball was slowed down. And to make matters worse Park were punished as they were in the first half. Throwing the ball wide against an organised defence saw a pass intercepted and the Malton player run the length of the pitch to score. Much to the roaring delight of the Malton travelling support. And here the game turned.
Malton were in the ascendency and Park had their work ‘cut out’. On the half hour Malton had the lead. A turn over on the half way line was passed right to left and their scrum half broke the scramble defence to put that man Sodladia in. Fortunately for Park the easy conversion was sliced and missed.
Park needed composure yet their mistakes and the ‘kicking of ball away’ allowed Malton the confidence to run the ball back and attack attempting to close out the game in the Percy Park half. As the game crept to a close Park needed something to happen or their relegation rivals were going home with the magic 5 points. Back to the forwards. The Forward pack kept the ball with a series of pick and goes that had Malton edging back to their try line. With Josh Hedley through a good tackle brought the player thundering to earth and the ensuing ruck saw penalty advantage to Park. Morse to the line. A catch and drive was pulled down. Penalty to Park. Yellow card Malton. Line out. On this occasion the line out maul ended legally and Park began to pick and go sucking in the Malton players. The crowd could see an undefended outnumbered side. The shout from the Percy Park faithful was a cry ‘Left. Left’. Not to worry former Captain Michael Langlands saw the advantage and made the score. The conversion missed. Park back ahead. Ninety seconds left on the referees watch; all Park had to do was keep the ball from kick off. What followed was ninety seconds of madness that saw Park win the ball…lose the ball…scrum…lose the ball…give away a penalty. Fortunately the madness seemed to be catching. Needing the try Malton’s Number eight tried a quick tap….he had seen space he could attack as Park were disorganised….we had all seen it….although in his eagerness to exploit the lack of players he knocked on and the referee blew his whistle. Deep breath from all although at this point stalwart Chris Wrigley actually took a breath and started to look a more healthy shade of purple.
Percy Park 33- Malton 27….much to the delight of all and a steady trail of supporters heading to the new ‘1872’ bar for a large brandy!!