PROMOTION chasing Percy Park did enough to secure a play-off play against the runners up of North 1 West, despite a jittery performance against a City team who were safe from relegation.
Park went with the same side that started against Northern the previous week, apart from George Purdy coming in for the unavailable Alan Blakey.
Three tries in each half gave Park the five points needed to ensure they could not be caught in second place.
After the match news filtered through that two of the contenders for the play off place in North 1 West had lost which means that even if Park were to lose at Billingham in the final scheduled league game of the season, they have the better playing record and would secure home advantage for the play off for the National Leagues on April 28.
On a bright but chilly afternoon, Park won the toss and elected to kick against the wind.
City scored first with a penalty on eight minutes from the boot of scrum half Paul Armstrong, before Park scored their first try of the game after a neat offload by Andy Dunn set Greg Dixon down the right flank to score.
Park had several chances to score, but stubborn City defence kept them at bay until the 33rd minute before Jonny Ward scored the first of his three tries, after John Scott faked to move left from the base of a scrum and pirouetted right to find the Park right wing in space.
A good run by Jimmy Baldwin down the left wing, beating several defenders, set up full-back Phil Morse for a try on 33 minutes, but the conversion again was wide.
In the second half, City’s experienced back row managed to slow down Park possession throughout, and the break down was an area of contention.
Shortly after the break Durham’s No. 8 Howard Johnson scored a good individual try after the Park defenders bought one too many dummies, and the conversion from Armstrong brought them right back in the game at 15-10.
Park could not win any good quick possession to set the backs loose, and the problem became worse whenthe home side were on the attack from a lineout which was driving inexorably towards the visitors line.
Replacement prop Neil Hart tried to collapse the maul and as the Park forwards drove over him, Joe Wafer was penalised for a spot of tap dancing and was shown yellow.
Percy Park quickly rearranged the pack and held out for the ten minutes without incident, and as Wafer was restored to the field Ward crossed the white line for a try on 65 minutes which gave Park the all important bonus point.
City now looked a spent force as the home side’s superior fitness began to tell.
Although the Durham scrummage had held its own, a loose ball at the ball was pounced upon by Greg Dixon, to set up another Percy Park attack through Ash Smith.
The Park fly-half set off for the line and a deft chip over the defence was retrieved as he crossed for the try which Morse converted.
Durham were not about to give up the ghost and continued to attack, but a telegraphed pass from lock Darren McKinnon was snapped up by Ward who ran three quarters the length of the pitch to score his hat-trick try which Morse converted.
Last night Park travelled to Ashington to take on Tynedale Raiders in a repeat of last year’s final of the Northumberland Senior Cup.
MORPETH REIVERS 24 PERCY PARK LIONS 29
PERCY Park Lions made it three out of four wins for the season against Morpeth 2nd XV.
The win keeps them in second place in Candy League division one with the final game of the season at home on Saturday against Billingham.
ROCKCLIFF VIKINGS ... 27 PERCY PARK PUMAS ... 22
PARK’S third XV lost in a close encounter to the Vikings at Whitley Bay Rockcliff in their penultimate league game of the season.
This weekend sees them take on Novos III at Preston Avenue.