Regional Two North
Saturday 9 September 2023, KO 3pm
Cockermouth 10 Percy Park 47
Blistering Dubois sets the tone
Percy Park travelled to West Cumbria for their second league outing of the season on Saturday to take on newly promoted Cockermouth, securing a comprehensive 10-47 victory in extremely challenging conditions. They played some exhilarating rugby at times, scoring seven tries in an excellent all round performance and, as a consequence, they now sit proudly at the summit of Regional Two North, albeit with just two games played! There were several changes from last week's opening win against Northern; Toby Davison replaced the unavailable Jamie Wrigley at full back, Ash Smith moved to centre to accommodate debutant Fergus Simpson at outside half, Tristan Grant came into the front row to allow Sam Digman to move to flanker in place of the unavailable Mickey Fisher and finally, Joe Thompson made his debut in the back row in place of the injured Michael Langlands. Luke Foster also made his Park debut from the replacements bench and it must be said, all three debutants made very positive contributions.
On a stiflingly hot day, the BBC had the temperature at 26 degrees at kick-off, with very little breeze, Cockermouth kicked off in the shadow of Skiddaw and the very picturesque Northern Lakes. An immediate Park knock-on led to the first scrum within 40 seconds of the start, made worse by an immediate scrum penalty awarded to the hosts which was successfully kicked by centre Daniel Woodcock on 3 minutes, (3-0)
As the game restarted, a high tackle on debutant Fergus Simpson allowed Ash Smith to clear his lines with a fine kick into the opposition 22. With Park’s lineout adjudged not straight, Cockermouth secured quick ball from the scrum and moved quickly right and only an excellent covering tackle by wing Ross Young prevented an early Cockermouth try. The hosts were on the front foot in the early exchanges but after a promising break, started from the base of a scrum by Park No 8 James Black, was stopped illegally, Park were able to kick to within 5 metres of the try line. From the resultant line out, centre Ash Smith and stand-off Simpson combined beautifully to send the Park No 10 jinking in for the try with Smith converting. 11 minutes played. (3-7)
Cockermouth responded almost immediately, with a good forward drive stopped midway in the Park half. Quick ball saw the Cockermouth stand-off Gate spot the gap in the Park defence which he accelerated through to touch down just to the left of the posts on 14 minutes for an excellent try which centre Woodcock duly converted. (10-7).
With the first quarter of the game not yet completed it was Park’s turn to respond at once; from the restart, a Cockermouth infringement (high tackle) led quickly to an Ash Smith cross kick which was expertly gathered by left wing Ross Young who went in for the try, converted by Smith on 18 minutes. (10-14). A well deserved water break ensued.
The lead had changed hands four times in the first 20 minutes but then, galvanised by their second try, Park began to move through the gears. Excellent carries from Aaron Smith, Ross Young and Chris Reekie put pressure on the Cockermouth defence only for handling errors to halt momentum. The hosts, on the other hand, relied on their pack to get them moving forward but all too often the Park 8 were equal to the challenge. Park were searching for the next score and on 28 minutes thought that it had duly arrived only for a Howard Stock try to be ruled out, seemingly for an offside offence but the visitors were not to be denied; 5 minutes later, the Park forced a 5 metre lineout and the resultant catch and drive saw hooker Jonny Dubois score to the left of the posts. Smith converted. (10-21). As in the game last week, the Percy Park forwards began to assert their authority as the first half progressed, dealing with the large Cockermouth pack well, and this allowed the Park three-quarters good ball to work with. As the half ended, strong running from Toby Davison and Ross Young put the visitors into good positions but the half ended with no further score.
HT: Cockermouth 10, Percy Park 21
Percy Park moved further ahead within 3 minutes of the restart, a Cockermouth infringement being ruthlessly punished. The forwards drove into opposition territory, Chris Reekie to the fore, before the backs were released. It looked as if the move had broken down after a wayward pass but centre Paul Spowart somehow held onto the ball allowing fullback Davison to finish off an excellent team try to the right of the posts. Try bonus point earned with Ash Smith converting. (10-28)
The following 10 minutes saw several Park infringements allow Cockermouth some meaningful possession; a Woodcock ‘show and go’ looked promising but excellent Park defence snuffed out the danger. However, a further offence on their own 22 allowed Cockermouth the opportunity to apply pressure by kicking the resultant penalty to the corner. The lineout throw was botched and away came Jonny Dubois on the charge. He was only stopped by a high tackle, the penalty being taken quickly. The ball was moved quickly right to replacement centre Seb Reece whose inside pass sent Ash Smith in to score to the right of the posts. In an instant Park had gone almost the length of the field to score! Smith converted his own try. 52 minutes played. (10-35)
Cockermouth continued to play through their forwards but Park were able to turn over possession and scrum-half Drew Walker made several excellent clearing kicks. Replacements and injuries disrupted the momentum of both sides. For Park, Luke Foster came into the back row to make his debut and was quickly involved, tackling and carrying well. With Park very much in the ascendancy, the next try, on 68 minutes, seemed inevitable. The Percy Park back line again showed real quality and intent, slick passing from Spowart, Smith and Young putting hooker Dubois in at the right corner. A beaming Jonny shouted ‘don't forget to mention my blistering pace’ at yours truly on the touchline. The word ‘trundle’ is probably more appropriate but it cannot be denied that our former captain was there to take the scoring pass, with a brace on the day! The conversion was missed. (10-40).
It was no surprise that with the heat, the game slowed down but Park had one last hurrah, Ash Smith going over under the posts with just minutes to go. He converted his own try. (10-47)
To their immense credit, our hosts never gave up and in stoppage time a fantastic charging run from one of the props (apologies to the player, my view was temporarily blocked) nearly brought a deserved consolation try but he was hauled down just short of the Park try line and the chance was lost.
FT: Cockermouth 10, Percy Park 47
Credit must go to both sides for an excellent game of rugby played in brutally hot conditions. We even saw a dodgy hat displayed on a shaply dome.
A very quiet bus home; no stops with the players a tad tired! Again the new tackle laws were refereed well with players adapting and in the two games played thus far this season, appear to have had no negative impact on the rugby played so perhaps the pessimists were wrong after all!
Next Saturday, Park welcome Keswick to Preston Avenue, KO 3pm.
Percy Park: 15 Toby Davison; 14 Howard Stock ©; 13 Paul Spowart; 12 Ash Smith; 11 Ross Young; 10 Fergus Simpson; 9 Andrew Walker; 8 James Black; 7 Joe Thompson; 6 Sam Digman; 5 Chris Reekie; 4 Josh Hedley; 3 Tristan Grant; 2 Jonny Dubois; 1 Aaron Smith
Replacements; Marc Cook; Seb Reece; Luke Foster
With thanks to Ken 'Flying Squad' Bell for the write up and Julie Photos for the photos!!