Home advantage secured in play-off

Percy Park's Howard Stock tries to break through the Hartlepool Rovers defence. Picture by Stuart Robertson.
Percy Park's Howard Stock tries to break through the Hartlepool Rovers defence. Picture by Stuart Robertson.

ALTHOUGH Percy Park had already guaranteed their play-off place in North 1 East, the 54-6 win over Hartlepool Rovers on Saturday guaranteed them home advantage in the tie.

The play-off will be against Burnage, runners-up in North 1 West, on Saturday at 3pm.

Rovers travelled to Preston Avenue, already knowing that next season they will be playing in Durham and Northumberland 1, and Park fielded much the same side that won midweek against Morpeth in the cup.

The visitors kicked off with the wind but conceded a try inside two minutes when David Griffiths spun through a tackle on the line after dummying his way to the posts. Marcus Rutter converted.

Percy Park were the dominant pack but were penalised in the first two scrums for driving up then boring in, and a penalty on eight minutes gave Chris Sainty the chance to convert for Rovers.

Park hit straight back with their first attack from the restart.

From a scrum in the Rovers half, Ponton picked up and passed to John Scott who sped up the blind side and offloaded to Thomas Turnbull in space for the left wing to cross the line for a try, which Rutter converted.

Despite Rovers’ lowly league position, they were well up for the game, and only a last ditch tackle on the Park five-metre line stopped them scoring after Park were caught napping from a quick lineout.

This spurred Rovers into their best spell of the game, and at 14-6 they were still in the hunt, although a late first half try by young Howard Stock gave Park a well earned 21-6 lead at the break.

With the wind in the second half, Park kept Rovers deep in their own half.

Stock scored his second try of the game as he was put clear by Sean Williamson only two minutes into the half,

Rutter missed the conversion, but it was the only one he missed all game.

Sean Williamson then got on the scoresheet himself after good support play put the rangy back row forward on hand for a pass close to the line to score on 51 minutes.

Rovers were now well under the cosh, particularly in the scrum, and when they were awarded a scrum on their own five-metre line, the Park eight shunted them off the ball driving them backwards over their line, with James Ponton dabbing the ball down for a try, converted by Marcus Rutter for 40-6.

Rutter then scored a well earned try of his own after coming into the back line and dummying his way through a gap in the visitors defence to cross the line.

Rovers’ never say die attitude, was commendable but Park had the last word with a try by Craig Fidler on 80 minutes, again converted by Rutter.

Park can look forward to the play-off for promotion to National League 3 North, the highest position they will have achieved since the leagues were formed.

Northumberland Senior Cup

PERCY PARK RFC 80

MORPETH RFC 17

PARK booked their place in the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup with an emphatic 12-try win over Morpeth.

The visitors had one eye on their league game at the weekend so rested some of their regular XV.

The try fest was started by Thomas Turnbull on five minutes, and then a further eight first half tries followed from Griffiths (2), Williamson, Shaw, Blair, Dunn, Baldwin and Fidler. Marcus Rutter regained his kicking mojo with an excellent display, slotting ten out of 12 conversions.

With the game 59-0 at half -time, Park made several substitutions. A further three converted tries followed from Barlow, and Stock (2). Morpeth came back with three tries of their own with one converted.

The final will be at Northern FC on April 27, kick-off 6.30pm, where Park will meet Tynedale Raiders.