PERCY Park returned to the top of the league with a less than emphatic 15-0 win over Driffield on Saturday.
West Hartlepool, who led the table going into the game, were unable to play their game against Northern due to a frozen pitch, allowing Park to move ahead by a point in North East One.
Both Park and Driffield were forced to make last minute changes.
Joe Wafer failed a fitness test before kick-off, with Chris Reekie moving to prop, while Craig Fidler was unavailable due to work commitments so Adam Fidler came into the back row with Sean Williamson moved into the second row.
The overnight thaw meant that Preston Avenue was fit for rugby, although the surface was a little greasy.
The visitors kicked off and Park pressed in the early exchanges but could not break the Driffield defence.
Ali Blair had a couple of chances to break the deadlock for the home side, but on both occasions was stopped close to the line and was unable to get the ball away to his support players.
Park’s best chance came at a catch and drive from a lineout in the visitors half.
The ball was cleanly won and driven 20 plus yards. With the pack comfortably in charge and looking to go all the way, the ball was spun out to the backs and the attack was snuffed out by some solid hits in midfield.
The first half looked to be ending in a stalemate until Driffield were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle, and Ash Smith kicked the points on offer to give Park a 3-0 lead.
Early in the second half, Driffield’s stand in full-back Sam Furbank had the chance to level the score but missed his kick at goal.
Reekie was making a big impact when he had the ball in hand, and on 49 minutes he crashed the ball into the Driffield 22, taking several players to bring him down.
The ball was recycled to fly half Martin Shaw who exploited a gap in the defence and went over for a try near the posts, which Smith converted.
With Joe Wafer being unfit to play, Park called up Brett Sylph at the last minute from the Lions to the bench, and last year’s skipper came on the pitch for an injured Adam Fidler, and made an immediate impact.
Craig Firth broke through the Driffield back line with a strong run in the centre, and the ball was fed out to right wing Howard Stock, who was stopped ten metres out.
The quick ball was recycled right with players queuing up, but it was Sylph who drove over for the try, which was unconverted.
Percy Park Lions won convincingly away at Blaydon by a score of 45-0, taking them to top spot in the UBS Candy Division 2.
Not to be outdone the Marauders won a close game against Morpeth Stags 7-6.
As this game was a double header this moves them top of Northumberland League 3b.
The Academy also won 15-0 away at Westoe and stay top of their league.
On Saturday Percy Park travel to Pontefract. The Lions play Horden at home and the Pumas are away to Jarrovians.
Saturday, January 29, will also be a big day for women’s rugby at Percy Park.
The Army Rugby Union (W) take on Scotland A at Preston Avenue, with the ladies taking centre stage. Kick-off 2pm.