TEAM Northumbria were given a lesson in forward play on Saturday as the Percy Park pack dominated their North One East meeting to give the home side a convincing 67-15 win and inflicted the heaviest defeat on the fledgling club’s short league history so far.
Although the conditions were bright and good underfoot, the strong cross wind caused the kickers some problems.
Northumbria turned up with a totally changed squad from the season before, which is in part their main problem – that coupled with trying to maintain their BUSA league status in midweek games.
At 31, Park’s Greg Dixon was the oldest player in the starting line-up for either team, and the veteran of 21 seasons at Preston Avenue, man and boy, he turned in a man of the match performance notching four tries in the process.
Park kicked off and immediately Team Northumbria were on the attack which saw George Lewis kick his team in front, but only just after Park were penalised for a high tackle just outside their 22.
Two minutes later Park scored the first of 11 tries in the match when Dixon went over from a driving maul which had been set up from a lineout close to the visitors line.
But Team North soon regained the lead when after several phases of play, right wing Cameron Kay went over in the corner unopposed.
The difficult conversion attempt went wide but ten minutes in the Students led 8-5.
Park regrouped, and from a strong scrum, number eight Sean Williamson picked up and recycled the ball right which saw speedster Ali Blair in possession and the right wing glided past his opponents to score, but again Marcus Rutter was off target with the extras.
The Park pack were totally dominant in the tight play and Andy Dunn, who had been a little off target last week in the lineout, had been out early getting his eye in and his pin point accuracy throughout the game was the pleasing result.
On the 20-minute mark Park scored their bonus point try after surging runs from Dunn and Williamson had been repelled, before Dixon pick up and spun out of the tackle on the line to score his second try under the posts.
Rutter made good the conversion and Park were leading 17-8.
The Percy Park back row of Dixon, Davidson and Williamson were having a field day, and it was the Park number eight who scored next after a catch-and-drive lineout was stopped short.
Michael Langlands crashed the ball up to within inches of the line before Williamson picked up and went over, with Rutter adding the conversion.
Not to be outdone by his fellow back row forwards, Jack Davidson scored the next Park try.
They were awarded a scrum ten metres from the Team North line, and such was the power of the pack that the scrummage was driven all the way to the line, with Davidson picking up a bobbling ball to control it over the line for the try.
With the conversion missed and with two minutes to go to the break, Park kept up the pressure which saw Dixon get his hat-trick from another catch-and-drive lineout to make the half-time score 36-8.
Rutter had come into the Park side at fly-half after good displays for the Lions, which allowed Phil Morse to move to full-back, and it was he who scored two minutes into the second half after a strong run to the line after several phases of play by the Park forwards which involved Dunn on more than one occasion.
Ashley Smith came off the bench for Park.
Poor communication in the midfield saw the ball spill loose in the Team North half and centre Ollie Smith snapped it up and sped for the line for a well deserved try, which was converted by Lewis on 55 minutes.
With Park in control, the side was able to try out moves from the training ground in a match situation, although a couple of the lineout options probably needed a little more refining.
Whilst the Northumbria back line looked sharp, they had little ball to play with, and when Park gave siege to their line once again after several phases of patient play, it was Dixon who popped up strategically placed on the wing to go over for his fourth try of the day.
Park were leading 46-15 when George Purdy came on for Alan Blakey at prop.
The veteran front rower was soon in action and burrowed his way through a maul to find himself in space with the try line fast approaching. Unselfishly he opted to look for the supporting player rather than go for glory himself, but this resulted in the ball being spilled.
With 20 minutes left in the game, it could easily have become a rout but Team Northumbria kept battling away in defence.
Having lost several key front row players during the week, the university side’s problems had been compounded when they lost hooker Matt Lennox in the first period.
When Park were awarded a five-metre scrum, the omens were not good for the visiting pack as they were marched back over their line.
As Park were about to score the ball was kicked away by a defender in an offside position and clearly a penalty try, however, the referee saw differently and awarded a Park penalty.
At the second time of asking with another scrum from five metres, the Park pack trundled over with Sean Williamson dabbing down the ball for his second try of the day.
The conversion by Rutter took the score to 53-15.
With time running out Blair scored his second try of the match after a lovely pass from Smith put the winger in space, and the conversion was on target from Rutter.
Team North were still looking to run the ball at every opportunity and when they were awarded a penalty inside their own 22 with two minutes to go, they tried to run the ball out of defence.
The attack was soon snuffed out and open side Jack Davidson was on hand to snatch up the ball to score his second try of the game, making eight in total for the Park back row on the day.
With the conversion Park finished the game with a victorty margin of 67-15.
On Saturday Percy Park are on the road with a bus trip to Malton and Norton.
BLAYDON RFC 2nds 38 PERCY PARK RFC LIONS 18
PERCY Park Lions’ recent string of wins came to an end at Crow Trees against a strong Blaydon side.
Park were without several key players with Davidson, Rutter and Zak Appleby all being drafted into the first XV.
Park’s tries came from the two Johnnys, Gould and Dubois.
PERCY PARK RFC MARAUDERS 20 GOSFORTH RFC FALCONS 14
PERCY Park Marauders won another league game which should move them close to the top spot of the Northumberland Blyth League.
PERCY PARK RFC ACADEMY 74 WIGTON RFC 0
THE third of the Park’s home games saw the Colts win emphatically against Wigton 74-0.