DESPITE the one-sided 45-12 scoreline, Percy Park’s game with Cleckheaton was close with an hour gone, and at that stage the visitors were still very much in contention.
Cleckheaton travelled to Preston Avenue with several late changes to the side, whereas Park started the game as originally selected with Ash Smith coming in at fly-half, Ali Blair moving to centre, Dave Griffiths to full-back, and Liam Blackburn returning to the right wing.
There was not much to inspire supporters in the first half as both teams cancelled each other out with solid defence, apart from a lapse in concentration on 15 minutes which saw the visitors cross the line with a well worked try from a lineout, which overhauled Simon Greatham’s penalty for Park on seven minutes.
A poor clearance kick by Griffiths saw the ball go out on the full outside the home 22 and play was brought back for a lineout.
Quick ball off the top gave the Cleckheaton back line space to run at the Park midfield and a breakthrough and wide pass on the left saw full-back Ross Haydn in for an unconverted try.
Greatham put Park back in front on 20 minutes, before the home side stretched the lead further after lock Craig Fidler charged down a clearance kick and retrieved the bouncing ball to cross the line near the left hand touchline to make the half-time score 11-5.
In the second half Greatham was off target with a penalty before making amends with a kick in front of the posts.
Smith looked lively and burst through a gap in the visitors defence and raced for the line. The cover did their job but the offload found Howard Stock who went over for the try.
Park had the upper hand once again in the scrum, as they have against most sides in the league this season, while the leaner and fitter Park forwards were prominent in the loose.
Good interplay between backs and forwards saw Percy Park go through phase after phase of play, but a sloppy offload saw Craig Blackburn pick up a loose ball and the left wing raced half the length of the pitch to score under the posts for the Yorkshiremen to make the score 21-12 with 12 minutes remaining.
Park kept their patience and after another session of attacking phases, scrum-half John Scott sniped through to score on 72 minutes.
The purple patch continued with a well work front lineout move which saw Andy Dunn cross the line for a try on 76 minutes.
Cleckheaton threw caution to the wind and attacked the Park 22, but what appeared to be an intended miss-pass hit an unintended recipient in the face with the ball spilling forward into the grasp of Ali Blair who raced 80 metres to score.
With only minutes left, Park mounted another attack as Ash Smith exploited a gap and broke for the line.
Again the last ditch defence by Cleckheaton denied the fly-half a try but lock Michael Langlands was backing up and received the offload and finished off the move.
Greatham’s conversion gave Park the 45-12 win, with all still to play for as the top three sides in the league all lost.
Park travel to second placed Wheatley Hills on Saturday.
WESTOE RFC 7
PERCY PARK RFC LIONS 55
PERCY Park Lions rediscovered their form with a bonus point win away at Westoe.
The victory sets them up confidently for their cup final against Alnwick II on Saturday.
PERCY PARK RFC PUMAS 40
GOSFORTH RFC FALCONS 22
A GOOD display by Park’s 3rd XV, including a hat-trick of tries by Paul Reeves, saw them home against a determined Gosforth Falcons team.