On Saturday 19th August Percy Park kicked off their first game of the season with a dash of flair and sparkle as they dispatched a plucky young side from Berwick 54-5 in the first round of the Northumberland County Senior Cup.
Saturdays Match Day was a bit like the first day of a term at School with the Preston Avenue faithful reacquainting themselves with fellow supporters after the summer lay off. A much slimmed down version of the Fiddler was seen with ‘Top Talent’ gracing the side-lines and we even had an appearance from the ‘Walker twins’ who have finally managed to emerge bronzed from various beaches across the Mediterranean and not to forget ‘Scotty from the Opposition’ who also popped down for a look. As with all first days at school attention was drawn to the new headmaster who decided to attend attired in ‘pink shorts’ and a polo top much to the derision of players and supporters alike. And so the afternoon was set and with eager expectation Percy Park led by Captain Dubois got the game underway kicking to a Berwick side with a strong breeze at their backs and the partisan encouragement of the famous three stood at West Dene Drive end of the ground.
And there follows what can only described as the Michael Grove show. Throughout the game Michael demonstrated his maturing ability to dictate a game at Fly Half despite the attention of the Berwick pack who seemed determined to drop him on his head at any given opportunity. Michael was ably supported by Andy McGrath, Charlie Greswold, Sean Nairn, Niall Combe and Ross Young who all made their 1st XV debuts on the day.
As stated the game kicked off in breezy sunshine and it was not long before Michael Birkett was able to power over the Berwick line following a quick interchange of passes between the forwards to set up Michael Grove for the conversion. Tries from Caulfield, Grove, Sutherland and Grove again with an additional penalty from Grove sent the home team into an unassailable 36-0 half time lead.
Throughout the first half Percy Park showed a real willingness to play an open game of rugby running the ball at every opportunity either through the hands or through short supporting interchange of passes between the forwards with lock Karl Thompson excelling. It was very apparent that the team were playing as a cohesive disciplined unit and were visibly enjoying their afternoon. Berwick for their part weren’t giving up and at times showed real promise in the loose with some quick elusive runners in midfield. For their part the Berwick support were hopeful of a score in the second period with the strong breeze at their backs.
The second half commenced with the return of the formidable and combative Joe Wafer to the Park front row and his first action was to give away a penalty much to the amusement of the Percy Park grandees. As Berwick attempted to get onto the front foot both teams were warned for ‘over exuberant’ behaviour with warnings given to blindside forward McGrath and the Berwick number 8. As the game settled down Percy Park were able to absorb the Berwick pressure who were let down by that final quality pass and in doing so handed the advantage back to Percy Park. Park tries from Gilmour, Sutherland, Sutherland again and a penalty from Grove completing the scoring for Park. Berwick were able to score a consolation try mid-way through the half following a mistake in the Park defence. The game finishing 54-5 to Percy Park and wing Kieran Sutherland enjoying his first hat-trick of the season.
Overall it was a good performance from a Percy Park side who did not allow their visitors any room in the game to cause them any real problems. Berwick came to Preston Avenue with a young side and their alikados were impressed by their team’s youthful promise that showed in periods throughout the duration of the contest.