PERCY Park’s solid home record took a dent on Saturday when they went down 13-21 to a physical Bradford & Bingley team, who had not won on the road all season.
Park had not lost at Preston Avenue so far this season, and few teams come away with points from their fortress, with only two league losses in the last two years, so Bradford & Bingley can be proud of their efforts.
The Bees pack out-muscled the Park forwards, particularly early on in the set scrum, and managed to disrupt the lineout, denying Percy Park possession for long periods of the game.
Bradford and Bingley scored first through openside Chris Fisher on ten minutes and scrum-half Richard Scull converted.
Centre Richard Tafa saw a gap in the middle of a ruck and broke through, drawing the last defender to put Fisher in under the posts.
There had been a few flare ups in the game before a fracas broke out on 18 minutes involving forwards from both sides.
Ryan Wedderell for Bradford and Brett Sylph for Park were both shown yellow cards, but Sylph was unable to return to the field after his sin bin period and was replaced by Stu Wilson.
Bradford had several scrums close to the Park line after turning down kickable chances after Scull had missed two relatively easy chances earlier in the half.
Park defended manfully, preventing the visitors from crossing the line.
In a rare foray into the Bees half, Park won good lineout ball just outside the 22, and a catch and drive all the way to the line saw Michael Langlands get the touchdown, despite the Bees best efforts to pull down the maul short of the try line. Ash Smith was off target with the conversion.
Bradford and Bingley had a little more of the first half possession and territory, but it was Park who went into the break 10-7 up with a fine try by Liam Blackburn.
Park won a scrum in centre field and James Ponton found scrum-half John Scott, who broke down the blind side, drawing in the Bees right wing before passing to Blackburn who still had some ground to make up before scoring. A determined drive for the line took the covering defender with him, for Park’s second score just on half-time.
Percy Park are normally a good second half team, and with the elements in their favour in the second period, the home support expected another win.
But Bradford and Bingley had other ideas and knuckled down to some hard graft in the second half, putting pressure on the Park ball at every opportunity, causing more than the usual spills and turnovers.
The Bees went in front seven minutes into the second half with a darting run by scrum-half Richard Scull, who broke through a ruck to score under the posts, converting his own try for a 14-10 lead.
Ash Smith brought his side to within a point with a penalty on the ten-metre line.
With ten minutes to go Bradford’s Brett Mitchell went over from a catch and drive, and again Scull converted to take Park out of losing bonus point territory.
Park lost both Joe Wafer and John Scott to injury, and they were replaced by Michael Birkett and Jimmy Baldwin.
Percy Park were not winning enough quick ball to set the back line loose, but on 77 minutes were awarded a kickable penalty, which in a ‘Robshaw moment’ was spurned for a kick to the corner.
The lineout was lost and the Bees spent the remainder of the game trundling up with the forwards to wind down the clock.
Next week Park travel to Marl Pitts to take on Rossendale.