North One East
Percy Park 28- Bradford and Bingley 40
Percy Park played some inspiring rugby in the first half that had the crowd on their feet and on the half anticipating more of the same. Then, as in previous games this season, the opposition regrouped at half time and changed their game plan to stifle Park flair. Unfortunately Park seem unable to adapt and as a consequence are losing games they should be winning. As soon as Park understand the need to ask different questions of the opposition they will be competing at the top of the table. Continually playing to the same patterns when the opposition have adapted to their style of rugby will see this team competing at the bottom of the league. And that will be a shame as this team, despite recent results, are a good side. Many an opposition Captain has commented after the game that Park are one of the best sides in the league and that their ‘Achilles heel’ is that they are easy to work out.
The game started at pace and for the first 20 minutes the game see-sawed from end to end providing good value to the spectator. Morse in particular was having a fine half using a variety of different kicks to probe the Bradford defence and turn their defence around. Yet it was a wayward pass from the Park scrum half into the midfield that almost created the first score of the game. With Bradford expecting a short pass to the fly half the Park player saw that pass go soaring over their head into space. Park scrambled back and a deft pick up and pass saw the explosive centre Seb Rees power into unexpected space and with Davison in support quick hands almost put the winger in at the corner. A pacy Park back-line had showed their intent.
With Seb Rees and full back Jamie Wrigley combining well Bradford found that they were in a game. And it was from that combination that the first score of the game emerged. A series of quick passes and offloads put Rees through the defensive line. The breach saw Park flood through and in support of the Park player. Prop Joe Wafer eventually found himself in possession of the ball and was under the posts providing an easy conversion for Michael Grove.
Percy Park were playing with confidence moving the ball with ease out of their 22 and causing some discussion in the Bradford ranks. Bradford were struggling to regroup and as a consequence trying the referee’s patience. With Bradford infringing in the scrum for ‘driving up’ the subsequent penalty kick was made to the line. And from there a little ‘magic dust’ was sprinkled. With ball won a great interchange of passes instigated by Phil Morse saw the Park backs flying into the Bradford 22. A super pass from Rees saw Phil Morse on the shoulder and across the line to score. With Grove converting Park were ahead by 14 points.
Yet Bradford are not a poor side and one or two Park errors saw the Bradford players pushing toward the Park try line. Parks defence marshalled by Michael Langlands and Andy McGrath was resolute and Bradford frustration saw one or two little skirmishes. Both sides were working hard and at the turn Park were good value for their lead.
A poor restart from Park with the ball failing to go ‘10’ saw Bradford react whilst Park watched with the Bradford ‘8’ collecting the ball and setting off deep into the Park half. It took a fine tackle to put him into touch. The danger signs were there. With Bradford holding onto the ball and committing 5 players to the ruck, Park were starved of possession. It took a superb tackle from Joe Wafer to dislodge the ball and with a quick pass inside Seb Rees was away and the supporting Jamie Wrigley was ‘in’ to score. With the conversion made Park should have had the game won. Yet from the kick off a lack of concentration and a costly error saw Bradford ‘pinch’ a try in a foot race that the Bradford player should never had won. With the try converted the Bradford team were lifted.
A subtle change to the Bradford defence saw the away side stifling the Park play. Instead of a rush defence Bradford allowed Park to come onto them and then committing players to the ruck. That tactic ensured that Park were not going to get any meaningful possession or benefit from a quick offload that had served them so well in the first half.
With Park on the defensive it took another great tackle this time by Phil Morse for Park to gain possession. With the ball dislodged Michael Langlands was on it like a flash and a pop pass saw wing Toby Davison outstrip his marker ‘side step’ the full back to score. >With Grove converting you would have thought Park were in the ascendency. Yet the Bradford call was for ‘patience’. They knew that they had worked out the Park style of play. And that patience was rewarded. Bradford kept the ball and Park creaked. With Bradford camped in the Park 22 the evitable happened. Park under pressure lost their discipline and a loose boot could be seen disrupting the Bradford scrum half’s ball at the back of a scrum. A potential scoring pass had been prevented. A yellow card was given along with a penalty try.
With Park ‘short’ it was all Bradford. Park were on the ropes and without meaningful ball they could do nothing. A loose ball in the Park 22 saw the Bradford scrum half react first whilst Park watched. A skip over the line and another score was made. Lessons hadn’t been learnt. The score 28 to 21.
With Bradford in the ascendency and Park panicking the score board started to go up quicker than the tills on a Boxing Day sale. Dropped passes, missed tackles, ‘knock ons’ and being out numbered in the loose saw Park collapse with Bradford running in tries for fun. The game ending with Park shipping 40 points in a second half horror show.