PERCY Park Lions finished 2011 with an emphatic win over Morpeth Reivers in a great second half display which included five tries.
The conditions were cold and bracing although many supporters braved the elements to watch a thoroughly entertaining game which keeps the Lions in second spot in Candy division one.
It was Morpeth who had the better of the early exchanges with Andy Whitfield failing to convert a penalty, and then after some sloppy tackling, full-back Carl Parkinson broke through the Park back line to score after four minutes with Whitfield converting.
Park thought they had scored when Simon Greatham drove over the line but referee Mick Donkin judged there to be a double movement, and then some back chat cost Park a further ten metres as the visitors cleared their lines.
It took the Lions some time, but after 20 minutes fly-half Paul Spowart saw the Morpeth defence was up flat and chipped through for ex-Novos wing Jonny Ward to collect the ball and surge past two Morpeth defenders to score. Spowart then levelled the scores with the conversion.
From the kick-off, hooker Jonny Dubois took the ball and ran hard and straight at the heart of the Morpeth line. Off-loading to Aaron Smith, the Park prop then passed to Zak Appleby-Rutter who chipped the rushing defence and then retrieved his own kick to cross the line for the try. Spowart converted.
In the second half Park lost Matty Robson, Aaron Smith and Appleby-Rutter to injury, but on the plus side the Lions were able to field several players who had been out for some time.
Jimmy Baldwin played his first game of the season coming on at scrum-half after a serious leg injury sustained in the summer playing rugby league.
Craig Firth made a second half appearance after returning with six weeks off with broken ribs and Liam Blackburn returned to the Lions after five weeks on the sidelines.
Morpeth kept Park at bay for the first 20 minutes of the second half before Jonny Gould finished off a good team try. Spowart was off target with the conversion, the only kick he missed all afternoon.
A couple of minutes later left winger Blackburn showed he was back to form as he broke through several tackles before crossing the line, and securing the bonus point for Park. Spowart’s conversion took the score to 26-7.
As Morpeth tired, Park ran in three tries in the last 15 minutes.
Adam Fidler finished off a try after good support play, and then on 75 minutes Ward scored his second of the day after loose play in the Morpeth back line, running 50 metres to score under the posts.
The final try came from some good backing up by replacement veteran prop George Purdy. Blackburn had again made inroads into the visitors defences and it looked as though Park were about to score down the left hand flank.
Some desperate Morpeth defence kept Park out, but the recycled ball found Purdy on hand to cross the line for the try. The conversion by Spowart took the final score to 47-7, and great improvement from the display earlier in the season when the Lions relinquished a lead to lose by a single point to the Reivers at Mitford Road.
The next game at Preston Avenue is the annual Percy Park vs Rockcliff Boxing Day game which kicks off at 2.15pm – a fixture which has been frozen off for the last two seasons.