Park lose to West and their top spot

Percy Park and West Hartlepool battle each other and the conditions in their league clash on Saturday.

Percy Park and West Hartlepool battle each other and the conditions in their league clash on Saturday.

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PERCY Park suffered their first league defeat since November, going down against second placed West Hartlepool and losing top spot in the process to their rivals.

Persistent rain had fallen overnight, never relenting until halfway through the first half, which meant that conditions under foot were heavy.

As a result, both sides were unable to play their fluid, fast paced style of play they are known for.

The cold and wet conditions meant the game was a dour forward orientated battle with conditions resembling the Somme towards the end of the game.

West just edged the tight contest with a try and conversion in the 75th minute.

In an error strewn game, Park were awarded only four penalties, none in kickable positions.

Gareth Foreman opened the scoring for the home side with a penalty on five minutes, and West had much of the early possession.

The scrums were evenly matched and Park had a slight edge in the lineouts.

The constant stop start and lectures by the referee never allowed either side to gain a foothold in the game, and when tempers flared in the West goal area, a fracas developed involving several players which resulted in Langlands for Park and Jon Boatman for West being yellow carded.

There was not much else of note to report in the first half other than a good break by Gareth Foreman and a try saving tackle five yards out by David Griffiths.

In the second half, Park had more possession and territory, and a fine break by Ash Smith saw the Park centre in space up the right hand side, but a mis-directed pass to wing Howard Stock saw the ball go into touch when the better option may have been to go for the line himself.

Minutes later West thought they had scored when a kick from Martin Shaw went straight into the midriff of a West player. The ball was spun out and Luke Watson crossed the line only for play to be brought back for a forward pass, which video evidence later showed was fortunate for the visitors.

West did make the breakthrough with five minutes remaining when Boatman broke from the back of a scrum, and from the resulting play, Anth Carr drove over the line. Foreman kicked the difficult conversion.

Park tried to chase the game and at least gain a losing bonus point, but it was not to be and West were the deserved winners on the day.

On Saturday Park meet Durham City at home and West meet third placed Wheatley Hills, who have shown fine form in the previous two weeks with big wins.

Although the 1st XV lost, there was plenty to celebrate at Percy Park as for the first time in many seasons Park were able to field six sides on the same day.

It was Northumberland County Cup weekend as the Lions, Pumas, Marauders and Penguins were all in respective quarter-final action.

The Lions defeated Corbridge Centurions 33-7 in a cup and league double header, maintaining top spot in the Candy League division two, and a win against Alnwick II will see the side in the final, aiming to retain the cup.

The Pumas, who were a little under strength due to the number of teams on the day, lost a close game to Wallsend II 17-14, but the Marauders advanced to the semi-final after a 27-0 win at Blyth.

The veterans – Percy Park Penguins – fielded a strong team of mainly ex-1st XV players from about ten seasons ago and were comfortable winners 43-0. They will play their semi -final at home on March 12.

Finally the Academy defeated a good Wigton team 20-0 in the league.