Having lost so many games to frost and snow in recent weeks, heavy overnight rain threatened to scupper rugby once again, however the rain abated and in the end all games went ahead, despite heavy conditions under foot.
Old Crossleyans travelled from Halifax with two of their key players missing, influential number 8 Manny Riaz, who was injured in the game against Driffield last week, and player coach Chris Jones was ruled out with flu. Park made a handful of changes in the starting line up from last week with coach James Ponton injured, Greg Dixon moved to number 8 and Sean Williamson came in at blind side. Martin Shaw was available so he came back in at fly half with Ash Smith moving to full back and David Griffiths dropped to the bench.
The home side had wind advantage and kicked off with the ball going straight out, and from the resulting scrum on half way, the Park pack showed their superiority in the tight from the start, with strong performances from all three of the young front row. Park had most of the early play and the first score came after 11 minutes with a try from Craig Fidler.
Percy Park won a line out in the Old Crocs half and drove the ball up the left hand flank. From the ruck, Craig Fidler picked up the ball and surged towards the line, beating one man then driving through the tackle of the last defender using all of his 6ft 7 inch frame to stretch for the line to make the score. Ash Smith converted – 7 – 0.
Eight minutes later the home side stretched the lead after a strong run by Ash Smith set up good possession, after breaking several tackles. The ball was recycled to centre Ali Blair who powered through several tackles and stretched for the line to score. Ash Smith placed the ball for the conversion, but as he addressed the ball, it fell off the tee, and with some quick thinking picked up the ball and drop kicked the conversion before the advancing defenders could charge down, to make the score 14 – 0.
Park had the ascendancy, and from another line out drove the ball deep into the Old Crossleyans half, Craig Fidler’s drive was stopped, but Michael Langlands was on hand to pick up and drive over for another try on 28 minutes. Ash Smith was unlucky to hit the left hand post with the conversion, and the ball stayed out.
The visitors battled hard for the last five minutes of the half, but the score remained 19 – 0 at half time.
The Halifax side started the second half badly with a miscued kick off which allowed Park early possession, but the visitors fought back and pressed the Park line, unfortunately lady luck was not on their side and Ash Smith pounced on a slow pass to run the length of the pitch to score and gain the valuable bonus point. The chasing defenders did ensure the try was scored wide out which meant the difficult conversion was missed.
Smith was in the action again five minutes later when Crossleyans kicked deep and the Park full back ran the ball back, taking three defenders to bring him to ground. The ball was quickly released to the left and Ali Blair used his pace to stride for the line. With Ash Smith injured in the midfield collision, John Scott stepped up but couldn’t make good the conversion.
With a 29 – 0 lead, Park stepped off the gas which allowed the Yorkshiremen into the game. A scrum in Park’s 22, allowed the visitors valuable attacking ball which eventually saw flanker Sembi power over through several tacklers to score. The conversion was missed.
As Park continued to maintain pressure, Martin Shaw scored a try for the home side, which John Scott converted. John Scott then made Percy Park’s final try of the game with a superb break from half way resulting from a scrum. The Park number 9 then drew the last man to put Howard Stock in for the try which was unconverted.
Crocs gained a consolation score with a sniping try by Travis which lock Rory Davis converted. The game ended with a 41 – 12 win by Park which maintained pressure on league leaders West Hartlepool who’s narrow win against Morpeth didn’t earn them a bonus point.
Next week Park entertain Driffield, with the match being sponsored by Fortress Aluminium.