PERCY Park booked their place in the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup for the third successive season with just Morpeth standing in the way of a hat-trick of cup wins.
With all of the rain midweek, it was testament to the ground staff, and particularly Brian Scorer who had the foresight to pump off some of the surface water in a pond at the bottom of the pitch, that the contest went ahead.
Going into the game, Park had several enforced changes, with James Bird being cup tied, and wings Liam Blackburn and George Lewis unavailable.
The day started with a Christmas pre-match lunch enjoyed by more than 100 guests, including Northumberland president Peter O’Brien.
The Raiders could have opened their account in the first minute with a penalty from full-back Toby Davidson, but the kick went wide while Park’s Ash Smith also missed a kick a few minutes later.
Park had the better of the try scoring chances in the first 20 minutes with Jack Davidson and Michael Stephenson both being stopped short of the line.
But it was the visitors who scored first with a well worked try from a lineout move which saw lock Jonathan Cousin barge over, which Davidson converted. The Tynedale full-back then put his side further ahead with a penalty from half-way.
The black and whites came back and again Stephenson was held up over the line.
From the resulting scrum, Brett Sylph picked up and drove forward, setting up a ruck from which Joe Wafer picked up and wrestled his way over the line for the try, which was unconverted.
All season, Park have been a better second half team and with the elements in their favour, they soon drew level with a great move finished off by Ali Blair.
Good ruck ball was fed to fly-half Smith who cut through a gap in the defence and then off loaded to Adam Morton, whose quick pass just as he was tackled found his centre partner who still had a good deal to do. But Blair, tackled by Tyne scrum-half Peter Moralee, still managed to get across the line.
Park had the better of the second half and always looked likely to win as Smith put his side in front with a long range penalty on 65 minutes.
The home side had changed their front row, and late in the game, Birkett, Frankland and Purdy put immense pressure on the Tynedale front row.
Park’s pressure paid off after a spell of 14 phases ended with the ball being held up over the Tynedale line once again. Park dominated the five-metre scrum, and when they were awarded a penalty, Sylph tapped and drove for the line burrowing through the Raiders defence to score.
The final looks to be on Wednesday, April 3, at a venue to be announced.
PERCY PARK MARAUDERS 22
WEST END 5
WITH the Lions game against Middlesbrough cancelled, and the Pumas’ game off due to a frozen pitch at Blaydon, the only other game was the 4th XV against West End.
The match was due to be played at West End, but their pitch was unplayable due to the frost. The game was hastily re-arranged to be played at Preston Avenue, and the Marauders defeated the league leaders West End in a keenly fought contest.
Hats off to West End, who travelled down to the coast at short notice, and also supplied the referee when the designated referee failed to show.