PERCY Park went down to a last minute try and conversion, bringing back painful memories of the play-off defeat to the same side two seasons ago.
Buoyed by their come-back win against Billingham last week, Park found themselves on the back foot from the start with Burnage No.8 Ollie Hewittson barging over for a try after only four minutes. Fly-half Ross Whinney chipped over the conversion.
Percy Park defended well but were guilty of kicking away too much good possession instead of using their formidable back line which had the beating of their Manchester counterparts.
In the second half, Park kicked up the slope but had a tail wind to help them, and Ash Smith made good use of this kicking a penalty on 46 minutes.
Park thought they had scored in the right hand corner after quick ball found Ali Blair out wide, but the ball was knocked on just shy of the line.
From the scrum however, Park nicked a ball against the head and the ball was shipped wide left and this time Ali Blair crossed the line to score, to give Park a slim 8-7 lead
Park played better in the second half and had several scoring opportunities with Jack Davidson coming close but play was pulled back for a 5-metre scrum.
With very few injuries in the second half, when the 80 minutes were up Park felt as though they may have just sneaked the game after Smith had kicked his second penalty in the 67th minute, but as in the play off, Burnage set up a driving maul which started inside their own half and rumbled ominously close to the Park line.
Eventually the maul collapsed and Michael Stephenson was sent to the sin bin. A kick to the corner resulted in another driving maul and this time Park’s other player coach James Ponton was dismissed from the field for collapsing the maul.
With Park now down to 13 players, Burnage battered away at the diminished defences and on 86 minutes drove over for the score which gave them the win. The conversion from Whinney extended the margin to 14-11 as the whistle blew.
Although both sides are now on 60 points and Park have a better point’s difference and more bonus points, Burnage have more wins now, so move up to fourth with Park slipping down one place in the table.
Next week the 1st XV travel to Chester to play a re-arranged league game.
Elsewhere, Percy Park Lions and Percy Park Penguins booked places in their respective Northumberland Cup finals.
A young Lions side won 20-8 against Morpeth Reivers to set up a final on Saturday, March 30, against Corbridge Centurions.
They will be looking to take back the cup they lost last year in a nail biting final against Alnwick II having won the trophy in the two previous seasons.
The Penguins, defending the trophy won last season, beat Seghill Deputies 21-7 to set up a final against Novos Centurions.
Sam Walton scored two tries and Paul Cherry one, with Tony Turner converting all three.
On Friday, Percy Park Pumas were re-instated into the Northumberland No.3 Cup despite having lost 15-17 to Novos II in the quarter-final after their opponents were expelled for fielding an ineligible player.