Bonus point win moves Percy Park up the table

Percy Park's pack push Beverley back. Picture by Paul Jackson
Percy Park's pack push Beverley back. Picture by Paul Jackson

Unlike the previous week’s game, Percy Park’s contest against Beverley on Saturday was played without a gale force wind.

Instead, the players were tested to the full by persistent rain which had fallen all day, interspersed by the odd sleet shower.

The pitch held up well but conditions were tricky, especially with ball in hand, so Park adopted a more territorial game, kicking for position and letting their bulky pack batter away at the Beverley defence.

The East Yorkshire side started the game largely with the side that had beaten Wheatley Hills the week before, giving them their second win of the season.

Park saw the welcome return of Ali Blair to the centre but were forced to make a change just before kick-off with prop George Purdy showing he is a true athlete by tweaking a hamstring, which meant Michael Birkett moved up from the bench to the front row.

Fortunately the Lions’ game at Billingham had been called off by the home side due to a waterlogged pitch, which meant Johnny Kidd was on hand as front row replacement.

Beverley kicked off but within a couple of minutes Park had taken play up to the visitors 22 with an attacking lineout. The catch and drive rumbled to the line and was stopped just short. A couple of phases later Austin Phillips picked up and crashed over from short range to score. Conditions underfoot were treacherous for kicking and the conversion attempt was pulled wide of the left hand post.

From the restart Park secured the ball and skipper Andy Dunn drove into the opposition defence. A loud blast of the whistle stopped the game as one of the Beverley props sportingly put the Park skipper into the recovery position as the physio rushed onto the pitch. The match was halted for several minutes as the recovered Dunn was stretchered off. Jonny Dubois moved to hooker, making way in the back row for his brother Karl.

Beverley had a short spell of possession in the Park half, but a loose ball was hacked through by Ethan Wilson and kicked on again as three Park players raced to the Beaver’s line for a touch down. Park’s No 8 looked to have dived on the ball, but referee Graham Crozier could not be certain that the Beverley defender had not reached the ball first, so a five-metre attacking scrum was the result. Park eventually made field position tell as Paul Spowart went over for a try which he duly converted for a 12-0 lead.

On a day when conditions were so difficult with ball in hand it often proved easier to kick for position, and from a high kick Rich Berne miss-timed his tackle on his opposite number taking him out whilst he was in the air to retrieve the ball, and so the Park right wing was shown a yellow card.

Soon after from another penalty, this time inside the Park half, Phil Doublay kicked the visitors’ first points of the afternoon.

There were no further scores from Beverley whilst Park were a man down, but two quick tries through the pack saw Josh Hedley, then Chris Reekie cross the whitewash, giving the home side their four-try bonus point.

Just before the break, Beverley scored their only try of the game when a misplaced kick out of defence found Harrison Mayou in space. The right wing raced to the line and had the presence of mind to dive several yards out, aquaplaning to the try line making him more difficult to stop.

At half-time with the score at 22-8, both teams rushed to the warmth of the changing room, leaving the ref showing he was ‘old school’ by remaining on the field of play.

The rain continued to hammer down as spectators sought the sanctuary of the stand and crowded under the balcony to stay dry. The players had no such luxury and returned to the pitch, some having changed into dry shirts.

The second half proved a more dour affair as neither side could run with the ball in hand, making it a day for keeping it tight with the forwards.

There was no addition to the score from either side until Austin Phillips bagged his second try of the day two minutes from time.

The bonus point win moves Park up a place in the league, whilst Beverley drop to last place at the foot of the table.

This weekend Park travel to Morley and the Lions take on Northern Wanderers at Preston Avenue.