Saturday 14 October 2023
Consett 43 Percy Park 24
Regional 2 North
After a two week break, Percy Park returned to league business at Consett RFC on Saturday hoping to maintain their unbeaten record with a sixth successive win but our hosts had other ideas, romping to a comprehensive 19 point victory as the Park Express well and truly derailed. Although both sides scored four tries, indiscipline, turnovers and, particularly in the first half, a lack of tactical nous perhaps in dealing with a stiffening breeze put paid to Park’s efforts in a disjointed performance but make no mistake, Consett thoroughly deserved the win. Our hosts have suffered three very narrow defeats this season and have been in excellent form at home so this was always going to be a tough game and so it proved with their New Zealand stand off Kyle Cornelissen in inspired form. Park debutant Paddy Browne replaced unavailable skipper Howard Stock on the wing, Joe Thompson moved into the second row to partner Chris Reekie with James Black returning to the pack after injury. Hooker Jonny Dubois captained the side.
On a bright sunny autumnal day, Park kicked off against a strong breeze and made an excellent start, moving the ball along the line, left and right, probing the Consett defence with Browne at one point showing great dexterity in keeping the ball in play. In midfield, Park were awarded a penalty after Consett failed to release the ball in the tackle and Centre Ash Smith kicked for the left hand corner, a sign of the visitors intent. After an untidy lineout and yet another penalty put into the same corner, a catch and drive from the lineout had Captain Dubois going over 10 metres infield on 7 minutes. Smith could not quite convert, the ball hitting the upright (0-5). Sadly, and as has happened far too often this season, Park conceded points immediately from the restart. A knock on, a scrum penalty awarded to the hosts and up stepped No 8 Matt Grimes to kick Consett’s first points of the match on 10 minutes (3-5).
Park again began to move the ball wide but as full back Jamie Wrigley joined the line his pass to Browne was intercepted by his opposite number Jack O’Leary who raced in from his own 10 metre line to score under the posts, the try being converted on 13 minutes by Grimes (10-5). Park continued to move the ball wide but were unable to straighten the line in order to create anything meaningful and playing with width was not being helped by a strengthening breeze. As Park probed, a pass from scrum half Robin Houghton was intercepted and Consett were able to kick deep into the Park 22. As the first quarter ended, Consett began to exert real pressure, with their pack tearing into rucks, tackling hard and enabling Cornelissen to dictate play. On 23 minutes, a poor clearance kick from wing Toby Davison gave full back O’Leary the chance to run from halfway and several missed tackles later he touched down close to the posts. Grimes converted (17-5).
This was definitely not in the script but Park were able to hit back immediately, After a Park scrum midway in the Consett half, Jamie Wrigley was somehow kept out wide out on the left by an excellent defensive effort but as the ball came back infield, Second Row Chris Reekie smashed his way through two defenders to score to the left of the posts on the half hour. Ash Smith could not convert (17-10). However, the last 10 minutes of the half were a Park horror show, conceding 13 points. Firstly, immediately from the restart Park tried to play out of their 22 but conceded a penalty for crossing which Grimes duly converted (20-10). Two minutes later, Park lost possession midway in their own half and superb interplay between centre James Herdman and fullback O’Leary had the Consett number 12 scoring an excellent try which was converted by Grimes (27-10). As the clock ticked down, Park were under intense pressure with the Consett pack rampant. They were held up over the line but Park were adjudged to have been offside in the build up and Grimes converted the resultant penalty on 39 minutes (30-10).
HT: Consett 30 Percy Park 10
With a mountain to climb, Park had to score first as the second half got under way and they immediately put Consett under pressure with three quick penalties awarded for home side infringements. However, Park could not turn early territory into points and as Consett counter attacked at speed, Stand off Cornelissen was high tackled around the Park 10 metre line and up stepped Grimes to kick the penalty on 46 minutes (33-10). This appeared to galvanise the visitors and from the restart they forced Consett into conceding a penalty that was kicked to the right hand corner. As Park mauled their way to the line it was taken down illegally and Park elected to go with the same strategy; kick to the corner, line out and drive. This time, replacement hooker Dan Shuttleworth scored on 50 minutes and with Smith converting the deficit was reduced (33-17). Four minutes later, Park scored again, Jamie Wrigley scoring under the posts after Consett infringed again as Park mauled to the line. With advantage being played the ball went wide and the fullback was able to cross unopposed for the bonus point try. Ash Smith converted (33-24).
With the deficit now just nine points, and with the third quarter not yet over, could Park produce the miracle comeback? Alas no, a penalty for not releasing had Grimes give Consett some breathing space with the successful kick on 57 minutes (36-24). Park were now under sustained pressure and only a Consett infringement enabled Ash Smith to kick the ball into Consett territory in order to relieve it. The next 5 minutes were to prove crucial with Park having two excellent chances to score but spurning them both. After penalty awards, Park twice kicked to the corner and from the resultant catch and drives endeavoured to turn the ball over on each occasion when it seemed easier to score. As a consequence, the fight seemed to go out of them and as the match ended, Park’s misery was compounded when Cornelissen weaved his way over under the sticks for an easy conversion from Grimes on 78 minutes (43-24). It could have been worse, Grimes missing with a last second penalty kick.
FT: Consett 43 Percy Park 24
On the day, Park were well beaten. The Consett pack were ferocious in both attack and defence and with Cornelissen (my personal man-of-the-match) expertly directing operations from standoff, this was simply a bridge too far. There were positives; Paddy Browne had some excellent touches and proved solid in defence and, with four tries, a bonus point was gained. Post match, stand-in Captain Jonny Dubois was honest in his assessment. Not a lot, he said, had gone right with too many mistakes and a lack of discipline with even the warm-up not going according to plan. He admitted that the result “has been a wake up call”, sentiments echoed by No 8 James Black but both were at pains to point out that nothing should detract from an excellent Consett performance. Park remain top of the table despite the defeat, 5 points clear of Middlesbrough. Our hosts move up to fifth. Our thanks to Consett for a great game and their wonderful hospitality and we look forward to reciprocating in January. Our thanks also, as always, to referee Louis Dinsdale. It was not all doom and gloom as the Lions were also in action at Consett, winning 15-70 and making his first start for the club on his return was Jake Smith. Welcome home Jake!
Next Saturday, we entertain West Hartlepool who beat Durham City 29-27 at the weekend. It should be a great game, kick-off is at 3pm.
Percy Park: 15 Jamie Wrigley; 14 Toby Davison; 13 Paul Spowart; 12 Ash Smith; 11 Paddy Browne; 10 Fergus Simpson; 9 Robin Houghton; 8 James Black; 7 Leo Caulfield; 6 Michael Langlands; 5 Chris Reekie; 4 Joe Thompson; 3 Tristan Grant; 2 Jonny Dubois ©; 1 Sam Digman
Replacements: Dan Shuttleworth; Oli Bartles-Smith; Andy Dunn