PERCY Park were looking to bounce back from a string of defeats in this fourth v third clash against promotion hopefuls Sandal who last week demolished National 3 North leaders Chester 51-28.
Park made no fewer than six changes to the squad with Jonny Dubois, James Ponton and Brett Sylph returning in the pack, and Ali Blair and James Bird back from injury and unavailability.
Last time the two sides met Sandal won 29-20, and they are currently on a winning streak having not lost since early October 2012.
It was Sandal who drew first blood countering after a long kick by Michael Stephenson was retrieved by Tom Coad who ran the ball back breaking three tackles before he was halted deep in the Park half.
The ball was recycled and eventually lock forward Austen Thompson went over with 6 minutes on the clock. Skipper Greg Wood converted.
On 14 minutes Park were awarded a penalty which Ash Smith kicked, the ball just clearing the crossbar.
Sandal always looked dangerous particularly on the counter attack, but the Park defence held firm until Simon Frewin crossed the line for the visitors on 27 minutes, although Wood was off target with the conversion.
Park picked themselves up and a sustained period of play in the Sandal half resulted in their No.8 Sean Maguire being sin binned for slowing down play.
On the stroke of half time Park’s Craig Fidler was shown a yellow card for a professional foul.
In the second period Park upped their performance and spent long periods of play in Sandal territory, coming close to the line on several occasions but the defence seemed impenetrable.
With Park again on the attack and still a man down, scrum half Jimmy Baldwin chipped through from the 22 metre line and winger Harry Thorpe chased down the ball. He appeared to have over run the ball but got the faintest of touch as the Sandal defender dived on the ball picking it up and running to the 22 for a quick drop out.
However, referee Charl Erasumus awarded the try to Park despite protestations from the Sandal players. Smith missed the conversion but Park were back in the game at 8-12.
Percy Park had more of the second half play than their West Yorkshire visitors, but their defence was awesome and Park could not break through.
When Sandal were awarded a penalty just outside kicking range they opted for the line out by kicking to the Park 22. A catch a drive was secured and the visitors claimed they had scored in the left hand corner, with their roaming coach telling the referee as much, but he judged the ball had been held up.
With eight minutes of injury time Sandal had a chance to stretch their lead which they took with a Wood penalty.
The game continued and a converted try would have given Park a draw, but the game ended with a losing bonus point for the home side, but a much improved performance from last week.
Next week Park entertain relegation threatened Birkenhead Park, with the match sponsored by the Percy Park mini and junior rugby section.
BERWICK BEARS 0 PERCY PARK LIONS 88
THE comprehensive cup win sets up a semi final contest away at Mitford Road on March 9, as Morpeth won 25-20 against Alnwick II.
PERCY PARK PUMAS 15 NOVOS II 17
Despite leading 15-0 at half time, the Pumas were knocked out of the cup by a strong Novos 2nd XV who scored 17 unanswered second half points.
GOSFORTH FALCONS 52 PERCY PARK MARAUDERS 24
WHITLEY BAY ROCKCLIFF RANGERS 6 PERCY PARK PENGUINS 13