NORTH 1 EAST
NORTHERN 27 – 22 PERCY PARK
On this display it looks likely that both Northern and Percy Park will be plying their trade at level 7 of the league system next season. Despite the win Northern are still rooted to the bottom of North 1 East and Park remain two places above in the final spot of the drop zone.
The expected sleet and rain did not materialise and Northern received the kick off with the lowering sun in their faces and despite a good covering of grass the pitch looked a tad heavy, unlike the crust on the excellent pre-match steak pie which was undoubtedly the highlight of the day.
Percy Park started brightly and after receiving the ball from a loose Northern kick, Josh Hedley powered through the mid field. The ball found Lome Fa’atau on the wing who passed inside to skipper Jonny Dubois in support to cross the line with only 3 minutes on the referees watch. Fly half Michael Grove, back in the side from his birthday trip to York the previous week kicked the conversion and Park were in front 7 – 0.
Northern hit back almost immediately as the visitors failed to deal with the restart kick, and skipper Alex Clark broke several tackles to score with Donal Collins equalising with the conversion.
Park who regained the lead with a try from Josh Hedley on the 9 minute mark, with Groves converting. Park looked in control with the line out functioning well and being dominant in the tight, but as with the hosts kicked away too much valuable possession.
Northern levelled the scores through fly half Collins adding the extras to his own try, but for the next 15 minutes neither side could gain the upper hand. It was Michael Groves who broke the dead lock before the half ended with a penalty giving Percy Park a slim 17 – 14 half time lead.
Not for the first time this season, Park relinquished the lead in the second half, with Collins levelling the scores with a penalty on 50 minutes, before Clark scored his second try moments later. The conversion took the hosts in front by 24 – 17.
Park then went on the offensive, battering away at the Northern line which they crossed on no fewer than 3 occasions. Oh for a TMO at level 6! The referee denied Park on each occasion, but eventually persistence paid and Park were awarded a try to the ironic cheers of the visiting supporters.
Defending a slender lead Northern spurned the chance to go for the corner as their line out had failed to function all day, no bonus point try, but the penalty would mean Park need a converted try to win the game.
With minutes to go and behind 27 – 22, the visitors kept the ball in hand pounding the home side try line. The final minute of the game saw bizarre decisions from both sides. Park were penalised inches from the line and Northern opted for a 5 metre scrum instead of kicking the ball to touch. Percy Park won the scrum against the head and drove for the try line, a push over or penalty try would give Park a bonus point win, but instead the ball was spun out to the backs who knocked on – game over.
On a positive note, the day ended well for Park’s Colts who progress to the last 32 of the National Cup having beaten Darlington Mowden Park 14 – 7.