The second defeat in a week for Park

Marcus Rutter, Park's only point scorer against Durham City with three penalties from his boot.
Marcus Rutter, Park's only point scorer against Durham City with three penalties from his boot.

PERCY Park made the journey down to Durham City in bright winter sunshine until a cloud appeared over Hollow Drift and the gloom spread into the game which was a dour affair.

It is difficult to recall when there was last a decent spectacle between the two clubs, particularly at Durham City’s home.

Although Park started brightly they were faced an uphill battle after Ali Blair’s questionable sending off.

Rutter kicked two early penalties before Paul Armstrong hit back with a penalty for the home side from their first real attack into Park territory.

Then Rutter cancelled out the City penalty as Park led 9-6.

On 30 minutes the game was ruined for Park and gave Durham the chink of light, which to their credit they duly exploited.

City kicked the ball deep into the Park half and the ball was retrieved by Blair who set off down the wing before hoisting a kick, which was a little over cooked.

The Durham full-back took the ball cleanly and then returned the kick with Blair following up and taking him out after the ball had gone.

The roars of indignation from the home supporters did not help the Park winger, who must have thought at worst he would see yellow.

Instead after the referee made sure the injured player was ok, he took out the red card and Blair was off.

Six minutes later McKinnon for City was shown yellow for handling on the ground and spoiling Park possession, and at half-time Park had a slender 9-3 lead.

With the home side restored to 15 players three minutes into the second half, Park decided to take off Hamish Lockwood in the back row to equal the numbers in the backs, and Jonny Ward came on in the left wing position.

City struck almost immediately with a try by former Northern player Neil Hart. Armstrong was short with the conversion but the home side were within a point.

When the rain began to fall again, both sides settled into a dull game, and it has to be said that the Durham University mud-Frisbee competition, taking place on the adjacent patch of land, looked more appealing.

City took the lead on 65 minutes when Armstrong converted a penalty with the help of the left hand post.

The floodlights were now on to help cut through the murkiness.

Park were still not out of the game and even with seven forwards against eight they more than held their own in the tight, but superior numbers eventually told and Metcalfe scored after City had won a lineout in the visitors half and after several rucks the centre went over from close quarters.

The conversion was missed, and with five minutes remaining Park needed a converted try to draw level.

Several forays into the Durham half were rewarded with penalties but Park opted to run go for the try rather than points on offer but could not break through the City defences.

At the final whistle Park had lost for the second consecutive week, and the celebrations of the City players showed just how much it meant to them to win against Percy Park.

On Saturday Park look to get back to winning ways at home against Morpeth.

PERCY PARK RFC LIONS 19

DARLINGTON MP 2nds 18

THE Lions retained second spot in the league with this narrow win against Mowden.

The visitors travelled with only 12 men, and in the spirit of sportsmanship Park loaned them three players.

Tries from Johnny Gould, Paul Spowart and Michael Birkett and two conversions by Spowart gave Park the victory, although the key moment in the game was the introduction of coach Paul Jobson to the Park back row.

BLYTH RFC 3rds 33

PERCY PARK MARAUDERS 18

THE Marauders went to Blyth in a friendly which was arranged at relatively short notice.

Next week the Marauders play host to Gateshead 4ths in the league, and the Pumas are also at home to Rockcliff 2nds.