North One East
Percy Park RFC 12 v Penrith RUFC 35
Penrith made to work hard for their bonus point win
(Breaking the Penrith Defence)
Following the loss against fellow strugglers Northern the Percy Park faithful were hopeful that their team could overturn the form book and cause an upset against league pace setters Penrith. Percy Park had nothing to lose as 'on paper' this game should have returned an easy win for the Cumbrian side. With 'must win' pressure removed hope abounded that this could be the game where a league leading side, comfortable in their position, might 'fail to turn up' and end up on the wrong side of the result. And as the game kicked off that hope accelerated as Percy Park got off to a great start advancing deep into the Penrith half and recording the first score of the game.
With only 5 minutes played player-coach Lome Faatau came through on a loose ball and with pace scythed through the Penrith defence. With 'no one at home' the ball was kicked ahead and a foot race ensued. With Faatau first to the ball he made a sublime offload from the floor to the supporting Jamie Wrigley who was able to score underneath the posts. With the conversion taken. Park were ahead and in buoyant mood playing the game in the Penrith half.
Percy Park had an opportunity to further the lead with a penalty just outside the 22. Unfortunatly the attempt was missed and Penrith began to wake up.
With scrum half George Graham marshalling the Penrith troops the game ebbed and flowed in the middle of the pitch with both forward packs evenly matched. A break from the Penrith centre saw the player make good ground and in a flowing move the ball reached the Penrith wing who made a dart for the line. Great defensive work from Park saw the attack nullified and in the resulting 'pile in' Penrith were adjudged to have offended and Percy Park were able to clear the danger.
As the game approached the final quarter of the first half, Percy Park pressed the Penrith defence with some great carries that took them to an area in front of the Penrith Posts and on this occasion it was Penrith who were scrambling back to defend. As the frenetic play calmed lock forward Josh Hedley was left on the floor. Unfortunatly for Park Josh Hedley was having a positive influence on the game and had been causing Penrith problems. With Hedley unable to continue the energetic forward Karl Thompson took to the field in a 'like for like' substitution. Despite the setback the Percy Park faithful remained optimistic
As with all good teams Penrith did not allow Percy Park to settle Thompson 'in' and it was that man George Graham who orchestrated a counter attack, placing Penrith on Parks 5 metre line. With a scrum awarded to Park the Penrith forwards put in an almighty shove and although the ball had been hooked back to the Park 8 the pick-up was messy and Park were under pressure. Graham harassed the Park 9 and stripped him of the ball almost making the score. With his forwards coming over the ball a quick thinking Penrith player played a looping pass over the heads of the Percy Park midfield which gave Penrith's Jay Rossi a clear run in for an unchallenged try.
From the kick off Percy Park came straight back at Penrith. The half was shaping up to be a good game with two sides evenly matched. Park needed to turn possession into points and it came to that old cliché of the next score being the most important and it did not go to Park. As a consequence the game ran away from the Percy Park side who were left to chase the scoreboard.
As half time approached A catch and drive from a Penrith line out saw the 'green and whites' claim real ground and although stopped, Park were defending on their try line and could not halt Dan Richardson forcing himself over from a short distance. It was in truth a heart breaking try with Park going into the half time team talk trailing by 14 points to 7.
As the second half resumed Percy Park started to chase the game and gifted Penrith a score. A loose pass was accepted and with the ball in Penrith hands all the winger had to do was stay in front of the chasing defence. And that defence almost caught him with the player elongating his arms to stretch out and place the ball over the Park line for a score.
To their credit heads did not go down and Park were able to keep the ball for long periods. Yet they were not able to make any in roads on the Penrith defence. Penrith were working hard for each other and often had three players tackling a single Park player. They were up and off the floor in defence working hard behind the first defensive line to ensure Park were unable to capitalise on their possession.
And it was from another Park mistake that the next score came. A missed penalty kick to touch saw George Graham gratefully accept the ball and place an inside pass to a charging team mate who took some stopping, breaking several attempts to tackle him. With the ball recycled a swift and flowing move saw winger Jay Rossi in possession who dummied the Park full back to score under the posts.
As the game went into the final ten minutes a yellow card to Percy Park for an alleged no arms tackle in the air put Park on the back foot. Playing with a player down the inevitable happened with the Cumbrian side going further ahead with another flowing passing move that saw Jay Rossi score his third try of the game.
Percy Park kept competing and their reward came with a consolation try in the corner. Pressing the Penrith line they hammered away with Penrith attracting a number of warnings from the referee and when they did pull down a maul the yellow card came out and they too found themselves a player short. Allowing Park to capitalise with a Sean Williamson try in the final play of the game.
And it was that man Williamson who rightly received the man of the match plaudits and with great humour, despite the defeat, describing a try saving tackle as 'Gazelle like...you know with real darted pace'. Not quite like Sam Underhill but I guess you might get the idea. And to be fair it was a very good tackle!!
With only 8 points separating bottom side Northern with Bradford and Bingley in 9th spot all remains to be played for. Park are in deep relegation trouble, that cannot be denied, yet as the table records there remains hope and Park are not playing badly. With six teams in the basement and only three going down Park need a win quickly as their enemy at this time is the number of games remaining. They are capable of getting themselves out of their difficulties. With seven to go its 'twitchy time!!'