North One East
Consett RFC 22 v Percy Park RFC 28
“Anyway the wind blows…….”
Percy Park recorded their first league away win this season much to the delight (or was it relief) of the travelling faithful…….in truth it wasn’t a great performance and one that owed much to the wheel of fortune . An Ash Smith ‘pick up’ from a Consett ‘knock on’ and an interception late in the game recorded 14 unanswered points for the away side. (Up until that point I’m sure the mathematicians amongst us can work out the reason for frayed nerves amid that travelling support.) From a Consett perspective the ‘pick up’ was a horrible try to give away as the offending player appeared to stop and give up on the play, and in doing so let Smith in. The interception was arguably worse. A long flat pass into the teeth of a howling hurricane and across the face of a defensive line is probably not the best idea; especially when that pass was floated into the eagerly anticipating hands of Ash Smith. And there is the first mention of the wind, also known as Storm Eric. A wind that blew a tempest along the length of the pitch creating a classic game of two halves. Consett were more effective in the gale and throughout the day played the better rugby but…. (And there is always a ‘but’) …. seeing as we won the game, gained a try scoring bonus point it….”doesn’t really matter to me, to me”…..There is a song in there somewhere, I’m just not sure what it is...so whilst you are all thinking about that one….. How did this game pan out?
Consett started with a passionate gust behind their backs that definitely created a sixteenth man. The Amethyst Park side hit up with two or three players before kicking to the corners pinning Percy Park well inside their 22. For the Black and White faithful the touchline discussion was all about the number of points each side could score in the half. Solid defence would be the key to the game. And so it proved to be a game of attrition that flowed from ruck to maul to knock on and back to the ruck again. The defensive hits from Park were huge and on one occasion overzealous when Ethan Clarke was adjudged to have tackled his opposite number above shoulder height, before dumping (or was that placing) him to the floor. A yellow card followed and Consett were advantaged by two. Don’t forget Eric, he was playing his part.
Park were on their line and Consett were over. With the conversion taken 7-0 to the home side. Park continued to hold out although they were guilty of diving out of the defensive line, which caused a few moments, as Consett slipped into the space provided. Yet Park held on and saw the yellow card out. With Ethan Clarke restored to the team we reverted back to the hit up and the ruck. The wind was that strong players were having difficulty passing the ball out. It was definitely advantage Consett and so it proved as Consett wing Craig Sharplin went over, despite a fine effort from full back Mattie Boustead to deny him the score. With the try converted Consett were ahead by 14.
Percy Park couldn’t keep the ball in Consetts half. Even the restart was kicked to touch handing the ball back to the home side. Alexandre Paulus was having a fine game at 10 pinging the ball to the Park corner. It was tough work for the away side. When they did get the ball they crashed up as individuals and the follow up was too passive. Often outnumbered the ball was lost or turned over. Unusually we also looked weak on the side of the ruck with Consett coming around in one or two’s, making good yards before being brought to the floor. Consett were playing well and Park were hanging on.
The Tyneside team needed a change of tactic and they needed to become more physical. They needed a spark. And that spark came from a Consett man who flew into a ‘ruck’ and clattered scrum half Jarred Deacon, before he got the ball off the ground. The Consett player was clearly offside yet the derision from the home support was ‘clearly displeased’ and that played into our hands. Clearly piqued Park upped their game and started hitting two up. As a consequence they kept the ball and that allowed a fine bollocking run from Captain Jonny ‘Maximus’ Dubois to take his side up the field and into home territory. And there we stayed for longer periods starving Consetts Paulus of the ball.
As thoughts drifted to Roman generals the clock ticked down to the half. A fine tackle from Mattie Boustead sniffed out a final foray from the home side; albeit it was a tackle that did not have to be made as a defensive colleague lost their discipline by coming out of the line. Still the tackle was made. 14-0 at the half and taking all into account that was not too bad. And better still the wind was in our favour.
Just on an aside….I read with interest the games programme notes which talked about respect ‘towards officials and others’ and reminded all that ‘This is rugby union’. For the author this is a timely reminder. I am aware during the game, and at the half time break, there were one or two comments thrown around on the touchline and on the balcony that were ‘designed for a reply’. In the spirit of rugby union we watch games as supporters and entertain opposition clubs as guests. Quote: “Remember what you think is acceptable behaviour the people next to you may not” so let the players play, allow the touch judge to run the line and the adjudicator referee…an adjudicator who may not see everything, be good or indifferent but without we would not have a game! I shall now get off my soap box and get on with the match report.
Percy Park needed a quick start and Mattie Boustead provided it. From the restart centre Charlie Greswold gathered, broke the line and delivered to Ali Blair. Blair burst into space, drew his man and posted a nice pass into the hands of Boustead. With no one at home the full back scored in the corner. The conversion was difficult…probably 40 metres out and to the right however that did not deter Ash Smith who kicked a fine conversion right between the posts. 14-7 and game on.
From the restart Percy Park received the ball and then lost it as the players went to the ruck. Consett then played keep ball and they did it very well, frustrating the Park pack. With Percy Park going over the top the referee awarded a penalty. Up stepped General Paulus to kick into the wind and as he did so the howling tempest calmed from an Arab stallion to an English mare…. 3 points taken and Consett ahead 17-7.
At the beginning of this report I alluded to the ‘wheel of fortune’ and that wheel turned away from Consett. The hits in the middle of the field were often ferocious and as a consequence the injury tally for the home side started to mount. With both wingers replaced by forwards and the starting scrum half gamely placed into the centre Consett began to look disjointed and Park took advantage.
Playing in the Consett half Park had the edge. Greater numbers in at the breakdown attracted the penalty, as Consett attempted to stem the flow. Smith elected to kick to the corner. A poor line out saw the ball fortuitously bounce back to Maximus and we were at the line. A free ball followed and eventually Park cut through to score in between the posts. Conversion taken 17-14.
Restart…knock on…scrum…Consett ball…Ethan Clarke wrapped up the Consett 8 and drove him down the field. Kick to the corner. Pressure. Consett clear to the line out. Park went to the left and unfortunatly threw a forward pass in the middle as the try line opened up. Park had upped the pace and the tempo of the game.
Percy Park gained the upper hand in the scrum with Michael Birkett and Mark Cook having good games. With a platform Percy Park started to probe. Another score looked likely…but (And there is always a ‘but’ with our beloved black and whites!)…Consett dislodged the ball and set off from their own 22 along Parks right tram line. With a player on his outside Ali Blair set himself for the collision only for the advancing player to keep the ball and scythe into the space. Mattie Boustead came across like a train and gathered in the Consett centre. The tackle looked good and on the touchline. With the referee judging that the Consett player had just stayed inside the line the home side recycled the ball to score wide left of the posts. A fine score, yet the conversion was out wide and on this occasion into a strengthening wind. Duly missed. 22-14 Consett.
Consett were playing well and faring better against the wind than Percy Park did in the first half….they were keeping the ball but Park were up and tackling beyond the gain line which saw Consett pressed back. Then came that moment, or as Mike Kitchen (visiting his home club) was heard to say, ‘out of nought pops up Ash’. In throwing the ball out to their right Consett knocked on and as fortune had it their player appeared to stop and look at the ball….luckily Smith did not and gathering the sphere sprinted to the line uncontested to score a try. The conversion was elevated with the wind and sailed high through the uprights. A fine kick. 22-21 …..But we were still behind and time was running out. Ten minutes to go…we were cutting it fine.
Time seemed to prey on the away sides mind … and as a consequence made mistakes. Park need to slow down and think. One almighty boot down the field from just outside our 22 caused the away support to inwardly groan as the ball looked to be travelling along and over the full length of the pitch…..only for that wheel to turn…. Instead of letting the ball run, the retreating Consett full back caught the ball…now it was the turn of the Consett support to groan, as the consequential territory advantage had been lost. Consett now had to work the ball back towards the Park goaline and as they managed to get past the half way line a long pass across the face of the Park defence lost its sting in the wind, nestling nicely in the hands of that man Ash Smith. Gathering the ball he set off and enjoying a relatively easy run in scored between the posts. Conversion taken, Park were ahead with 6 minutes left on the clock.
As the clock hit its remaining seconds Park had one further chance to score…..with Charlie Greswold making a fine break……and there I shall stop as ultimately it didn’t matter…..it’s enough to say we didn’t make the try…..never mind…. Full time Consett 22 Percy Park 28. With four try’s scored 5 welcome points to the Tyneside side.
Our 2nd XV also visited Consett that day and were soundly beaten by 52 points to 12…..in their defence the boys travelled light and although they led at half time were unable to keep the lead.
Percy Park third team recorded a home win over North Shields Crusaders by 32 points to 27.
Next week Percy Park are at home to Morley. 2:15 kick off at the ‘Stadium of Dreams’…Come on Park