Park hang on to win

Martin Shaw scoring Park's second try.
Martin Shaw scoring Park's second try.

HOLLOW Drift doesn’t bring out the best in Percy Park, and a conversion attempt deep into injury time could have earned a draw for Durham City, but the kick went wide, and Park move a step closer to having home advantage for the play-off which will determine promotion to National 3 North.

Park started like a runaway train and scored after only four minutes through Ali Blair, after a precision chip through by Martin Shaw found the Park centre in space to dab down the ball over the line.

With the absence of Ash Smith, Marcus Rutter assumed kicking duties but missed the conversion.

Four minutes later Park were 10-0 to the good after Martin Shaw crossed the line after a solid scrum and pick up from Michael Langlands, who had moved to number eight after midweek injuries to Brett Sylph and Greg Dixon.

Rutter missed the conversion, but had the chance to make amends soon after when the visitors were awarded a penalty in front of the posts.

Unfortunately Park opted to kick to the corner instead of accepting the three points on offer, and City managed to snuff out the attack after a misdirected lineout.

Park were dominant in the first 20 minutes, then City hit back with a try by Knowles.

This spurred Durham into action, and the home side scored again through full back Smith, and the kick was converted by Alistair Blair for City to lead 12-10 at half-time.

In the second half Park were playing up the slope and into a strong breeze, but still snatched back the lead with a Rutter penalty on 52 minutes.

City, buoyed by their win last week against Team Northumbria, were looking for an upset, and Smith scored a good individual try after some sloppy tackling allowed the full-back to cross the line.

The conversion by Blair put Durham 19-13 ahead.

Park brought on skipper John Scott and the fresh legs gave Park a lift with Michael Langlands scoring a try after a well worked lineout saw an incisive break by Martin Shaw.

Park then scored a bonus point try through right wing Howard Stock on 71 minutes.

Rutter was not having his best day with the boot and missed the conversion to leave Park 23-19 ahead.

The influence of the Park skipper was evident, and a break through midfield brought play up to the City ten-metre line, and they were penalised for the tackler not releasing. Some injudicious back chat earned Park a further ten metres, and Rutter kicked the penalty.

With the game drawing to a close, City needed a converted try to draw, and mounted a concerted attack on the Park line.

With time almost up, Park embarked on a mad two minutes and chose to run the ball out of defence instead of opting for a clearance kick to touch.

City retrieved the ball and then kicked ahead, with Ali Blair calling a mark on the five-metre line.

With time up, the ball should have been kicked off the pitch but instead the kick ballooned in field and the home side ran play back and scored through Metcalfe.

This brought the score to 24-26 and the conversion would bring City level, which was no less than they deserved.

Sadly for them lady luck was otherwise engaged and the kick went wide as the final whistle blew.

On Saturday Park entertain Hartlepool Rovers.

With West Hartlepool winning away to Wheatley Hills, they now only need two points from two games to secure promotion.

A win for Park on Saturday will earn home advantage in a play-off against the runners-up of North 1 West, which at this stage looks like Burnage.

Back at Preston Avenue, the Lions secured a well earned win over Morpeth Edwardians, which meant they had now completed a league and cup double, cementing their position as champions of Candy League division two.