PERCY Park made their longest trip in the league so far this season to take on Birkenhead Park, who were propping up the league with a solitary point while the visitors were riding high with four wins from four.
The teams were blessed with fine weather and although Park started the brighter for the first five minutes, Birkenhead had more of the opening quarter and scored with a try from hooker Stu Brown, converted by Dave Hall.
Percy Park cut the gap with an Ash Smith penalty on 18 minutes before Birkenhead looked to have scored again when Brown crossed the line only to knock-on.
The Tynesiders had a couple of chances to score their first try when Jack Davidson appeared to have gone over in the left hand corner only for the referee being unsighted, ruled against the score giving a five-metre scrum to the home side.
Birkenhead did not have to wait long before they struck again when lock Colin Campbell bundled over for a try, again converted by Hall.
Smith kept the visitors in touch with another penalty on 32 minutes.
The home side had battered away at the Park defence for a sustained period and the visitors were warned for several infringements before Brett Sylph was sent to the sin bin.
Birkenhead made good their numerical advantage and scored wide on the left flank through wing Rob Houliston on 43 minutes, and when Hall kicked the tricky conversion they looked in control at 21-6.
This season Percy Park’s never say die attitude has been apparent and with Sylph restored to the side after his ten-minute breather, they scored on the right wing through Johnny Ward, who had been brought back into the side.
With a scrum in the Birkenhead 22, Sylph picked up and fed skipper John Scott, who found Smith and he made the ground to put Ward in the corner for the score.
With the half drawing to a close Percy Park attacked again and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts after a tip tackle by one of the home defenders, who was given a stern warning but no yellow card.
Smith kicked the penalty and the half-time whistle went with Birkenhead 21-14 up.
In the second half Park had the wind advantage and the sun at their backs, and the pressure on the home side told when giant prop Martin O’Keefe was binned for killing the ball after ten minutes had gone.
The visitors drew level when Michael Stephenson crossed in the right hand corner and Smith kicked the conversion.
Percy Park went into the lead on 66 minutes when Birkenhead were harshly penalised for hands in the ruck, with the referee on the far side of a mass of players. Smith was on song with the penalty and Park lead 24-21.
When Birkenhead were awarded a penalty in front of the visitors posts, they should have drawn level, but the kick was pulled across the face of goal and stayed out.
Park continued their second half territorial advantage and with the referee signalling penalty advantage in front of the posts, Smith went for a drop goal, which was off target.
Everyone including the Birkenhead defenders, assumed there would be a kick at goal, and turned to go behind the posts, quickly Scott tapped the ball and raced for a gap giving the ball to Smith who crossed the line for the try, with the home side coaching staff incandescent with the referee, stating that the try should not be allowed, alleging Percy Park had signalled to kick at goal.
The conversion was missed, but with seven minutes left in the game, the home side had not given up with centre Greg Hughes crossing the line to score an unconverted try on 77 minutes.
The nervous home side coaching staff were urging their side on, hoping for their first win of the season, and at worst two bonus points, but Percy Park cut this to one, adding a bonus point of their own when Ward went over with a couple of minutes to go for his second and Percy Park’s fourth try of the game.
Percy Park remain third in the league and take on leaders Chester next Saturday at Preston Avenue.
GATESHEAD 2nds 6
PERCY PARK 2nds 71
ANOTHER strong performance from Park’s second XV saw them over run Gateshead on their own turf.
This weekend the Lions are on the road at Morpeth to take on the Reivers.
PERCY PARK MARAUDERS 49
WINLATON 2nds 19
THE Marauders opened their Northumberland River Coquet League campaign with a fine home win against Winlaton.
The Marauders have a week off on Saturday but the Pumas are back in action against Rockcliff Vikings at Whitley Bay.