MIDDLESBROUGH 20 – 20 PERCY PARK
The last time Percy Park visited Acklam Park was in the season which saw the home side promoted to North 1 and Park relegated to Durham & Northumberland 1. The aggregate score that season was 125 – 7 to the side in claret and gold, but in the intervening 5 years both sides’ fortunes have changed and they find themselves once again in the same league. So far this season Boro have lost only to league leaders Billingham, and Park have yet to find the form that took them to the play offs earlier in the year. Conditions were near perfect for a game of rugby, a bright sunny day with a breeze and an immaculate pitch with the home side kicking off with the slight slope and wind at their backs.
Both packs had a chance to test themselves in the first 2 minutes and Park showed that it was going to be a tough day for the home pack when they drove them back convincingly in the first scrummage. Boro however had the first chance to score points when Park were penalised for being offside and they elected to kick for goal. Scrum half Peter Wright would no doubt wish to forget his first attempt at goal which missed by some distance, but he made amends 3 minutes later with another penalty opportunity.
Percy Park had a chance to level the scores not long after but chose to kick to the corner. The resulting lineout was a scrappy affair which resulted in a 5 metre scrum and Middlesbrough cleared their lines. Park had a couple of chances to go in front one of which saw Sean Williamson being bundled into touch close to the line.
On 20 minutes a fracas broke out involving several players from both sides. When the dust settled, referee Richard Downing sent both blind side flankers to the sin bin and awarded Middlesbrough a penalty in a kickable position, which Wright missed. Both teams played for the next 16 minutes with 14 players as it seemed the referee had forgotten about the two in the bin, as had everyone else.
Park had a great chance to open their account when Craig Fidler made a break through the Boro defences. With Ash Smith on his left and a clear path to the line, the pass was behind the Park full back and a golden opportunity went begging,
On 34 minutes the home side went further ahead with a Wright penalty, then with 6 or so minutes to go, Park went into sleep mode which saw Boro score 2 converted tries which gave a flattering score-line at the break, and Park and uphill task metaphorically if not physically for the second half.
Park were actually attacking the Middlesbrough 22 with Ash Smith in the three quarter line, when a poor pass in midfield was hacked on and a foot race between Phil Morse and wing Josh Evans saw the Boro winger reach the ball first. He kicked ahead again and dived over the Park try line to score, much against the run of play. Wright’s conversion just made it with the help of a deflection from the right hand post.
With the half well into extra time Boro were on the attack again and a flowing move from right to left saw hooker Richy Horton on hand who stepped inside the attentions of right wing Howard Stock to go over for the try. Wright was on target with the conversion and the much against the reflection of play and possession, the home side were 20 points to the good.
With only 2 minutes gone in the second half Park were awarded a penalty which Simon Greatham missed, although he was on target with another attempt not two minutes later. Percy Park had come back in the past from seemingly hopeless positions and scored through Ali Blair on 52 minutes. The ball was taken on first by forwards George Purdy then Andy Dunn before quick ball was released to Phil Morse who threw a long pass to winger Blair who crossed the line for the try. Simon Greatham kicked the conversion and Park were within 10 points at 20 – 10.
Middlesbrough were finding it hard to break out of their half and when Park were awarded a penalty they were pinned down in their 22. The line out was won cleanly and the Park pack drove the maul to the line, denying all attempts to pull it down. With Greg Dixon at the helm he steered the maul to the line and over for the try which Greatham converted. The game was now well within Park’s grasp and a penalty from Simon Greatham levelled the scores on 70 minutes.
The home side were soon on the attack and an attempted drop goal went wide of the mark. Park too had an attempted drop goal, but the least said about that the better.
The referee was obviously having watch problems as both sets of supporters at this point were hoping for an honourable draw rather than just a losing bonus point. When Middlesbrough deliberately slowed down Park ball a penalty was awarded on 89 minutes and Simon Greatham stepped forward to take the kick. Some ill-mannered jeers which sadly now seem to be creeping into the game of rugby, the kick was wide of the mark and the scores remained deadlocked at 20 – 20.
A further 3 minutes of nail biting play continued before the final whistle, with the boro supporters feeling they had played their “get out of jail free card”
Next week Park are at home to Team Northumbria
PERCY PARK LIONS 71 – 24 MIDDLESBROUGH WASPS
To misuse an old Peugeot strap line, “the Lions are going from strength to strength” with a fine home win which should move them up to second in the Candy League 1. Despite the one sided looking score-line, the visitors battled to the last and were a man down throughout the game as full back Jamie Muncer had been taken out of the Wasps team to replace Ross McNeill only an hour and a half before kick off.
At half time Park led 22 – 12, before a strong second half performance took the game away from Boro Wasps. Park scored 10 tries in all through Jonny Ward, Jack Davidson, Marcus Rutter, Jonny Gould, Liam Blackburn, Zak Appleby Rutter (2), Matthew Ovington, Alun Barlow and Michael Birkett. An almost flawless kicking display by skipper Marcus Rutter with 9 conversions surely puts him in contention for a return to the 1st XV.
Pick of the forwards was Jack Davidson and the outstanding back of the game was Zak Appleby-Rutter.
Next week the Lions travel to Blaydon
WESTOE III 12 – 14 PERCY PARK PUMAS
Park Pumas just edged this hastily arranged friendly. Next week they take on Wallsend Warriors away, and the Marauders play Gosforth Falcons at home. The Academy are also in action away to Wigton.
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