IN THE round ball game, there has been talk of a winter break in the leagues, and if ever there was a case for a mid-season furlough in rugby, this game was it.
In freezing conditions and on damp greasy pitch, for the players it must have been like playing a game with a ball shape bar of soap, made of ice.
For the two men and a dog watching, the game was far from entertaining with both sets of backs in danger of hypothermia, as the forwards decided it was a day for them to keep warm, by keeping possession, when they could hold on to the ball that is.
Both Lymm and Park had key players missing due to illness, injury and unavailability, but the lads who stepped in did their teams proud, particularly Stu Wilson for Percy Park who stepped in at the eleventh hour at No. 8.
Park kicked off, with the benefit of the optical illusion that the locals insisted was not a slope, and with a breeze at their backs, although as usual it was their opposition that made most of the early running, with Lymm getting on the scoreboard first with a regulation penalty kick from wing Cormack Nolan on 15 minutes.
Although the home side had more of the first half possession, Park had a couple of breakaway chances, first through Liam Blackburn, then Ali Blair, with the latter being denied a breakaway from his own 22 with no one in front of him.
Unfortunately for Park, the ball was deliberately knocked on preventing him the possession, for which the miscreant was shown a yellow card with eight minutes of the half remaining.
The half ended with neither side adding to the meagre score line of 3-0.
The visitors started well as Lymm gifted them a scrum on half way as the restart went dead. Park had a decent period of possession and territory but it was not until the 57th minute that Ash Smith was able to level the scores with a penalty in front of the posts after Lymm were judged to be offside.
Players from both sides struggled with the ball and conditions with numerous unforced errors as the game progressed. Defences were definitely on top, as neither side could break the dead-lock.
When the green and whites had a line out in the Park 22, and set up a driving maul, it looked as though a certain try was on the cards, but for some inexplicable reason, with the maul going forward, the man in possession decided to go for glory 5 yards out and was stopped short of the line, and eventually Park cleared their line.
Lymm did however get the chance to go ahead and kicked a penalty on 71 minutes, and then seemed to be settling for a narrow 6-3 win.
Percy Park came back at them and after several phases, a maul was driven over the try line in the left hand corner with replacement Sean Williamson claiming the touchdown.
The referee did not concur and Park instead had to settle for a five-metre scrum with less than a minute to go.
Whether it was disappointment, lack of concentration, or just Lymm’s determination to keep the visitors out, Park’s scrum was driven back and as the ball was tidied up at the base, play was driven into touch and the referee blew for the end of the game.
The score-line almost says it all, a pretty dire game for players and onlookers alike.
PERCY PARK LIONS 68 MORPETH REIVERS 5
IT was not too many seasons ago that Park could only dream of this sort of scoreline against Morpeth Seconds, but a divergence in fortunes has seen a visible improvement in the Lions, and a steady decline in the Reivers.
Park Lions had already beaten the Reivers 41-7 at Preston Avenue back in October. With this comprehensive win, the Lions go top of Candy League 1 as Tynedale Raiders were without a game, but still have 2 games in hand.
ASHINGTON II 5 PERCY PARK PUMAS 50
THE Pumas, still unbeaten so far this season, stay top of the league with this victory over Ashington II
PERCY PARK MARAUDERS 17 MEDICAL SERPENTS 49
PARK’S Fourths could not contain a lively Medicals 3rd XV.
PERCY PARK ACADEMY 15 ALNWICK COLTS 5
THE Academy took on Alnwick Colts in this rearranged league game, and came out winners maintaining their unbeaten league record.