REGIONAL 2 NORTH
PERCY PARK 28 -15 MIDDLESBROUGH
Percy Park maintained their 7 point lead at the top of Regional 2 North with a bonus point win over 3rd placed Middlesbrough. An overnight deluge meant condition were soggy underfoot but the rain held off throughout the game and mild conditions brought out a decent crowd to watch an entertaining game. Park kicked off with a Simpson grubber style kick which nearly caught out the visitors but a bobbling ball was retained and a platform set up to clear to half way for the first line out of the day.
The Park support along with match day sponsors Muckle LLP and their guests were treated to a fine early try from skipper Howard Stock with only 4 minutes gone. Ball from the top of a line out was spread wide and Jamie Wrigley cut through the defence to draw the last defender to put Stock on the right wing in at the corner. Paul Spowart sporting a natty Freddie Mercury style moustache in support of Movember slotted the difficult kick and Park led 7-0.
Although Park seemed to have the bulkier front 5, Middlesbrough held their own in the early scrums until Josh Lynas incurred the wrath of referee Simon Williams of the Durham Referees Society. The Middlesbrough loosehead prop had been warned for his binding on a couple occasions before being penalised. Some backchat saw the visitors marched back 10 metres before Lynas was shown a yellow card. Park kicked to the corner and a text book catch and drive took the home side to the try line as scrum half Andrew Walker spotted a gap and sniped through to score. Spowart was again on target from wide out and Park doubled the lead to 14-0 after 15 minutes.
From the restart Park gathered the ball but Chris “Tank” Reekie was pinged for holding on and the visitors opted to kick to the corner rather than taking the easier 3 points. The line out was won and the drive progressed to the Percy Park try line. A couple of pick and go’s were repelled before the burly framed tight head Myles Colvin barrelled his way over the whitewash for the try that centre Brendan Hill converted. 14 – 7.
A superbly weighted restart kick by Fergus Simpson allowed wing Paddy Browne to pluck the ball out of the air and tear off down the left hand flank. Although stopped in the Middlesbrough 22, the recycled ball was spun through the backs and found full back Jamie Wrigley who weaved his way through the defence to score under the posts for Park’s third try and Spowart’s third conversion. 21-7.
Percy Park were scoring at a rate of a point a minute and when Boro were penalised for going off their feet in a ruck, the kick to the corner set up another attacking move. Although the initial catch and drive was held up, man of the match Drew Walker stepped his way through several would-be tackles to score his second try of the game and earn his team the 4 try bonus point with only 24 minutes gone. Paul Spowart was again on target with a 100% conversion rate so far on the day as Park went into a 28-7 lead.
The home side had a couple of opportunities to extend the lead as the first half came to a conclusion, but the greasy conditions did not make handling easy with final passes not going to hand.
Boro kicked off for the second period with the slope and Park with the lowering sun in their eyes. Any thought that this would be a rout for the home team was soon dispelled and the maroon clad Middlesbrough upped their game and pinned Park deep in their own half for long spells. Percy Park were penalised for not rolling away as Josh Hedley had looked to have jackled the ball fairly. With the kick to the corner Park were caught napping at the front of the line out as the ball was thrown in then quickly back to hooker Joe Sawdon for a well planned and executed try. Brendan Hill couldn’t make good the extra points. 28 -12
Percy Park still tried to play expansive rugby, which given the conditions was proving difficult, although Jamie Wrigley nearly broke through the defence but was stopped 5 metres out. Park were awarded a penalty after a no-arms tackle on Chris Reekie. Spowart stepped up to take the kick at goal but the left footed kicker hooked the ball right of the posts for his only miss of the day.
Middlesbrough were then awarded a kickable penalty some minutes later which Hill slotted to reduce the deficit for his side to 28 -15. With a full 25 minutes of the game to go both sides attacked and defended in equal measure without being able to add to the score line. Jake Smith showed so good attacking moves off the bench linking up well at one point with Josh Hedley only for a potential try scoring opportunity to be pulled back for a forward pass, which on the video proved to be the correct call.
Percy Park will be pleased with yet another bonus point win, and despite leaving Preston Avenue empty handed and unable to secure a losing bonus point Boro remain in third place behind Northern in second.
On the far pitch Park Lions took on Middlesbrough Wasps and ran out 33-28 in a tight game with the Lions down to 14 men for a long spell due to injury.
Next week we take a break from league rugby as the 1st XV entertain Alnwick in the Northumberland Senior Cup.