Park back in the challenge for promotion

Percy Park Lions man of the match Kai Downey-Stephenson. Picture by Stu Robertson.
Percy Park Lions man of the match Kai Downey-Stephenson. Picture by Stu Robertson.
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PERCY Park were hoping for three important wins on Saturday and if an 82nd minute Lions penalty had gone over, that is what they would have achieved.

The 1st XV moved back into a promotion play-off spot with a great away win over Wheatley Hills, sadly the Lions lost in the final of the Northumberland 2nd XV Cup but the Penguins, Park’s 5th team, won the Northumberland No. 5 Cup against Rockcliff Rangers.

The 1st XV took the long journey to Doncaster to play second placed Wheatley Hills, who are the only side to have beaten Park at home this season.

Park made a couple of changes in the pack with Jack Davidson sitting out recovering from a nasty facial injury, and Michael Langlands being unavailable due to work commitments.

The visitors opened the scoring with seven minutes gone as Greg Dixon went over after good work by the forwards. Simon Greatham was off target with the conversion.

Park stunned Hills with a second try ten minutes later as fly half Ash Smith cut through the Wheatley defence after a nice dummy to score under the posts.

Wheatley came back with a try from centre Chris Blessed after Hills intercepted a Park pass on half way, and the half ended 12-5 to Park.

And three minutes into the second half the Yorkshire side were back on even terms after captain Tom Buckingham finished off a driving maul from a lineout in the Park 22.

Both sides were forced to make a couple of changes through injury as Liam Blackburn left the field with a calf injury and Mark Cahill went off with a knee problem.

Wheatley had a penalty chance which came off the post, the ball was scrambled and won by the home side but Ali Blair intercepted a pass and ran 80 yards to score for the visitors and Greatham converted.

Blessed scored his second try of the game to cut the gap.

With time running out Park scored the important bonus point try through Greatham, who cut back inside the Wheatley Hills defence inside the 22 and went over close to the posts, and then converted.

Park leap-frog Hills and go to second behind Billingham who were confirmed champions after an emphatic win against Old Brodleians.

On Saturday Percy Park travel to McCracken Park to play a re-arranged game against a resurgent Northern knowing that a play-off spot is in their own hands.

On Wednesday evening Percy Park 1st XV begin their defence of the Northumberland County Cup away to Ashington, kick-off at 6pm.

northumberland no. 2 county cup

ALNWICK RFC II 24

PERCY PARK RFC LIONS 23

PERCY Park Lions were looking to win the trophy for the third successive season but Alnwick II, who have already won the Candy League division two title, had other ideas.

Park made the worst possible falling behind after a minute when a loopy pass in midfield was intercepted by centre Ed Shell who raced to the line to score and Toby Davidson kicked the conversion. Davidson and Spowart then traded penalties.

The bigger Park forwards had the edge over their Alnwick counterparts, but the Northumbrian side’s back line looked dangerous every time they had ball in hand, and they went further ahead through prop James Cowan.

Park had several good chances and were denied a try on the left wing as Matthew Ovington was judged to have had a foot in touch.

Park were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. The kick would have made it 17-6 at half-time, but Park elected to take the scrum and the Alnwick defence held firm. They then turned defence into attack and Shell scored on the stroke of half-time.

Three minutes into the second half Spowart kicked a penalty for Park then a second three minutes later to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Kai Downey-Stephenson carried the ball on numerous occasions.

On the hour mark Jimmy Baldwin broke away from the base of a scrum and Downey-Stephenson was on hand to take the ball, off loading to Wes Casey near the line for the Park openside to go over for the try.

Park gave away several penalties in kickable positions, but the Alnwick kicker’s form deserted him.

Park then came within a point when Craig Firth bulldozed his way over the line and Spowart kicked the added points.

With time almost up Park were then awarded a penalty inside the Alnwick half but wide on the right. Unfortunately the kick was off line and the final whistle went to the delight and relief of the Alnwick team.