Domination in the pack keeps Park in the hunt

Ali Blair goes over for Percy Park's first try against Middlesbrough. Picture by Stuart Robertson.
Ali Blair goes over for Percy Park's first try against Middlesbrough. Picture by Stuart Robertson.

ONCE again Percy Park’s pack domination led to a comprehensive victory over Middlesbrough which keeps their promotion hopes alive and with a game in hand on the teams in second and third.

Middlesbrough remain second despite the defeat as Wheatley Hills also lost to leaders Billingham.

Boro kicked off with a strong wind behind them, but a clash of heads inside five minutes meant an early break as Jack Davidson had to leave the field with a blood injury and Tom Holden for the visitors was bandaged up.

Middlesbrough took the lead with a penalty from fly-half Jack Bircham after Park were penalised for going off their feet at a ruck on 11 minutes.

Another penalty soon after doubled the lead for the visitors.

From the first scrummage it was clear that despite being a bigger and heavier pack, Middlesbrough were under severe pressure in the tight.

And after 24 minutes Hamish Lockwood finished off a push over try which was converted by Simon Greatham.

The game was a physical encounter and when Gavin Fingland threw a barrage of punches in front of the referee, he was shown a yellow card, and was possibly lucky not to have seen red for his actions.

With a man advantage, Park scored on the left wing through Ali Blair after John Scott had broken through the Boro defence from the back of a scrum, although Greatham’s conversion attempt into the strong wind fell short.

Bircham kicked another penalty on 33 minutes to keep his side in the hunt, and on the stroke of half-time he had a chance to draw level but his penalty attempt went wide.

At the interval Park led 12-9 with the elements in their favour for the second period.

Park got the second half under way, and when Boro failed to retain the ball, the home side attacked the right hand wing and a chip through by Scott bounced awkwardly for Andy Micklewright and Howard Stock picked up and went over for the score only 30 seconds into the half. Greatham converted to put Park ten points clear.

Middlesbrough were under immense pressure and had been warned by referee Dave Charlton for slowing down Park possession. Eventually patience ran out and Bircham was sent to the bin.

Park were awarded a penalty and kicked for the corner with the resulting maul being pulled down five metres out.

Park opted for the scrum, but veteran hooker Richy Horton won the ball against the head and the visitors were able to clear their lines.

From the lineout Park supporters thought they had scored when Andy Dunn threw a quick ball to the front and received a return pass from Craig Fidler to set him clear down the right flank, but the pass was judged forward.

Park claimed their bonus point with the fourth try as prop Joe Wafer powered through a gap in the defence and Greatham kicked the conversion for a 26-9 lead.

The visitors were defending with real determination, but with four minutes remaining, Blair scored his second try of the game after coming in from the right hand wing, again Greatham converted.

Middlesbrough restarted the game and went on the offensive to get at least the consolation of a try before the final whistle.

With numbers on the right and with the full-back in the line a wide miss pass was thrown and the 6ft 6ins frame of Fidler plucked the ball out of the air and galloped off up the pitch with an 85-yard sprint ahead of him. As the Boro defenders closed on him he eventually made the line with a despairing tackler unable to stop him from scoring.

On Saturday Park are back to 3pm kick-offs as Malton & Norton visit Preston Avenue.


THE Lions lost to league leaders Tynedale Raiders at home. Next week they play a rearranged cup game at home to Northern Wanderers at home.