Park end season with a loss as they maintain fifth place

Percy Park's Toby Davison in action against Rochdale.
Percy Park's Toby Davison in action against Rochdale.

After 25 league games of the 2014/15 season neither Rochdale nor Percy Park could gain promotion or be relegated.

Rochdale started the North One East clash in third place with Park two places behind in fifth, and after 80 minutes that was how the league table finished.

The visitors took to the field to the cheers of the travelling Percy Park Under 15s and their mothers and fathers who were on tour in the north west, and staying at a local holiday camp; there is no truth in the rumour that they were organising an escape committee.

The game started in glorious spring sunshine, but those who watched in short sleeve order soon regretted the decision as a biting wind blew across the firm pitch. The visitors had stunned league leaders Sheffield in the previous week and were hoping to continue that level of performance away from home.

The early exchanges were evenly balance before Rochdale took the lead with a try on six minutes.

Outside centre Josh Schofield kicked ahead in the Park 22. Full back Michael Grove looked to have the ball cover but only succeeded in getting finger tips the ball over his head which bounced fortuitously for Schofield to get the touch down before going dead. The conversion attempt from a wide angle was off target.

Park hit back with an Ash Smith penalty before Dale struck with two tries in two minutes which took the wind out of the Park sails momentarily as the home side surged into a 19-3 lead.

Just before the break the visitors cut the deficit with a try from Toby Davison who picked a great angle cutting back inside and through the Rochdale defence to score under the posts, and Smith converted, so at half time Park were behind 19-10.

Percy Park started the second period brightly, but saw Michael Grove leave the field with a recurrence of an ankle injury. Rochdale scored their fourth try of the game on 55 minutes to secure a bonus point, but Park never gave up and eventually Dale were reduced to 14 men as flanker Ross Hartley was sent to the bin for repeated infringement in the red zone.

The home side defended well during the following 10 minutes, before Park eventually crossed the line as Ethan Wilson powered through the defence to score in the corner to make the score line 24-15.

Park battled for the remaining five or so minutes but could not add to their score.

There were two end of season farewells to note, firstly Park’s head coach Ed Midcalf who is stepping down due to work and family commitments, although he will still no doubt be involved in some coaching capacity.

The second being Rochdale themselves, who are by the looks of things saying goodbye to North 1 East. Rochdale are the most westerly of the clubs in the N1E, being there due to the RFU level transfer system to ensure equal numbers to the East and West.

Next season due to the sides coming down from level 5 all being in the north east area, it looks as though they will return to the West after two seasons.