Percy Park hold on to edge tight game against Driffield

Guy Pike dives over the line to score for Percy Park in their game against Driffield.
Guy Pike dives over the line to score for Percy Park in their game against Driffield.

Continuing their recent improvement, Percy Park ran out 30-25 winners against Driffield courtesy of a brace of tries for Guy Pike, a first try for Eddie Saint and a flawless kicking display by man of the match Michael Grove.

There were umpteen changes again with Davy Kay and Josh Hedley unavailable, which saw Jimmy Baldwin come in at scrum-half and Michael Langlands partnering Saint in the boiler room.

Percy Park's Eddie Saint on the charge against Driffield.

Percy Park's Eddie Saint on the charge against Driffield.

Wings Rich Berne and Toby Davison both returned from injury, and Craig Smith returned to the back row.

Park started with purpose and immediately had Driffield on the back foot. Penalties in the first ten minutes allowed Grove to kick Park into a 6-0 lead before the visitors came back.

A lapse in the home defence allowed centre Chris Sadler through and he found wing Gary Stephenson who scored close to the posts to assist the conversion by Will Brigham, and the Woldsmen led 7-6.

Percy Park struck back immediately with a break down the right wing, after Baldwin took a quick tap from a free kick to set the back line loose. Davison showed his pace in beating a couple of players before passing back to Pike, who raced to the line and scored in exuberant fashion. Grove kicked the extras to put Park ahead 13-7.

Percy Park's Michael Grove produced a flawless kicking display against Driffield.

Percy Park's Michael Grove produced a flawless kicking display against Driffield.

Driffield scored from a penalty kick by Brigham and then went ahead with a 35th minute try by open-side Henry Forbes after the Yorkshire side had driven a maul from a lineout just outside the Park 22.

With the half coming to a close, Michael Grove kicked a 40th minute penalty to put Park ahead 16-15 at the break.

Percy Park kicked off the second half and a great solo effort by Pike after the referee Craig Wrightson allowed a good advantage saw the Park centre burst through tackles by several players in blue and white and crossed under the posts, and with the Grove conversion Park were 23-15 in front.

Driffield kept in touch with their third try as tight head Felix Nellen barged his way over for the score. The young prop had proved a handful all game. Fortunately for Park, Brigham had not brought his kicking boots and the hosts stayed 23-20 in front.

Percy Park lengthened the lead when Craig Smith carried the ball well and off-loaded to second row Saint, who brushed aside the Driffield full-back to score and Grove converted to bring up the 30 points.

The home side then had a couple of golden opportunities to secure the bonus point for the fourth try, first of all with Baldwin running 40 metres to get close to the visitors try line. Rather than back himself he passed but somehow the ball was fumbled and the scoring opportunity was lost.

With Driffield under the cosh for a spell, Park could have scored from a rolling maul that was brought down inside the 22. They re-grouped and drove again but Driffield’s defence held firm and a turnover eased the pressure on their line.

With 80 minutes on the clock and with Percy Park 30-20 ahead, surely they would not relinquish the lead as they had done against Northern and Morpeth in two previous games.

When hooker Guy Brumfield scored in the 83rd minute to give his side a bonus point and bringing the game score to 30-25, there were a few nervous moments.

A kick-off that did not go ten metres put Park on the back foot and Driffield pressed in the dying minutes of the game.

Park defended resolutely and the final whistle came as the visitors knocked on close to Park’s line and the ball was kicked dead to the relief of players and supporters alike.

This was a good win for Park against a side a few places higher in the league.

Next week sees Park in cup action against Tynedale Raiders.

With Tynedale’s flood affected facilities out of commission, the game is likely to take place at Druid or Kingston Park, with the kick-off time still to be decided.