Bonus point win keeps Park just above relegation zone

A bonus point win at Penrith gave Percy Park five valuable points in the struggle against relegation and keeps them just outside the drop zone by the slenderest of margins.

Crucially, they also have two games in hand over fellow struggles Waterloo.

The game went ahead in bright sunshine and the forecast rain did not materialise, which was just as well with the pitch already very heavy from the deluge earlier in the week.

Percy Park started well with most of the early play but failed to capitalise on possession up to the home side five-metre line.

Penrith came back and were unlucky not to go three points ahead when a Mike Fearon penalty hit the crossbar.

It was Park who opened the scoring after being awarded a penalty inside the Penrith 22.

Rather than take a scrum, a quick tap was fed to Guy Pike who came off his wing and powered over for the try which Todd Harrison converted.

The home side belied their lowly position at the foot of National 3 North, showing no small measure of spirit and determination, but their cause was made more difficult when prop Glen Carr was ordered from the field with a straight red card for a punch in clear sight of the referee.

Despite being down to 14 men, Penrith hit back with an unconverted try by Mike Stephens.

And then on the stroke of half-time Jamie McNaughton crossed in the corner for a well finished try which Fearon converted to give the Cumbrians a 12-7 lead at the break.

Early in the second half Park were on the attack and wide ball saw full-back Toby Davison come into the line with wing Pike in support. Davison backed himself to beat the last man rather than give the pass and drove at the defender with Pike driving both attacker and defender over the line. Harrison missed the conversion.

Shortly afterwards the game was stopped for several minutes as Park centre Alex Tilley was stretchered from the field and taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle.

Both sides were struggling with the heavy conditions, but Park had the superiority in the pack and were winning more than enough possession to keep their opposition on the back foot.

With just short of an hour played, Penrith’s tight-head prop went down with an injury and had to leave the field, meaning the game had to go to uncontested scrums, negating Park’s dominance at scrum and also ensured guaranteed possession for the home pack.

After several minutes of play it was pointed out to the referee that Penrith had substituted their injured prop when going to uncontested scrums.

The Cumbrian side were then forced to reverse the substitution and some heated discussion on and off the field took place regarding the interpretation of the laws.

Park broke the deadlock with a Stu Findlay try on 63 minutes which Harrison converted.

But Penrith’s never say die attitude saw them hit back with a Dan Richardson try to get back within two points at 17-19.

With time running out Park scored their fourth try of the contest and secured the win and the vital bonus point with a James Ponton try.

Ponton had come back into the first XV after almost five months out due to injury and work commitments.

The conversion hit the post but Park were now 24-17 ahead.

Despite Penrith now being down to 12 men with a player sin binned for a late tackle, they continued to press the Park defence needing a converted, which would have levelled the contest.

Park, however, regained possession and saw the rest of the game out.

Next week the first XV travel to Sale, kick-off 3pm.