Percy Park miss out on more cup success

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Percy Park could not emulate the previous week’s success of the Lions and regain the County Cup they have held for three of the past four seasons.

Park were without a number of their regular 1st XV, with several of the Lions squad stepping up and performing well to stake a claim for a regular place.

Park warmed up in the balmy Morpeth spring sunshine sporting their “stay strong Stu” T-shirts in support of 25-year-old Tynedale player Stu Ridley who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

Percy Park, notoriously slow starters, held out until the sixth minute before Adam King capitalised on a turnover and broke through some ineffective tackling in the defensive line, to score under the posts. A determined charge of the conversion by Liam Blackburn did enough to ensure scrum half Gary Andrews’ kick went wide of the mark.

Minutes later the students doubled their lead as full back Tom Studd scored in the left hand corner, and Andrews made no mistake this time with the more difficult kick to put his side 12-0 ahead.

Paul Spowart opened Percy Park’s account with a penalty on 14 minutes, which proved to be their only score of the first half as all too often they kicked away good possession to allow Northumbria University to strike back on the counter attack.

With six minutes of the half remaining Tynedale centre Pete Weightman broke through the midfield to score and the Andrews conversion took his side into the break 19-3. Park had a couple of penalty shots at goal that were wide of the mark.

Once the second half was underway, Park used some of their replacements which saw the introduction of Mal Donald, Austin Phillips and Chris Reekie to the pack making their season’s debut for the 1st XV to good effect.

This injected new impetus to the side that showed much improvement and greater spirit and determination in the second period.

Paul Spowart and a blood stained Gary Andrews exchanged penalties before Park scored their only try of the game from a catch and drive from a line out in the students 22.

A final penalty by Gary Andrews made the score 25-13 and although Park went close to scoring twice they were denied tries with a forward pass and a knock on, as Northumbria claimed the Senior Cup.

Next week the 1st XV take on North 1 East league leaders Sheffield and the coaches will have a dilemma in selection with several of the Lions players surely in contention.