Park into play-offs

Marcus Rutter scorer of two of Park's tries.
Marcus Rutter scorer of two of Park's tries.

PERCY Park are now guaranteed at least a play-off spot after a 27-3 win over Morpeth at Mitford Road.

Nearest challengers West also won, at Carlisle, with a bonus point, so they only need seven points from their remaining three games to be confirmed as league champions.

If Park can win the remaining two games away to Durham City and home to Hartlepool Rovers, they should be favourites for a home fixture for the play off against the runners-up from North 1 West.

Park kicked off with the wind and slope advantages, in bright sunny conditions, and for the first ten minutes exerted all the pressure on the home side, although solid defensive work meant the visitors could only come away with a six-point lead after two penalties from the boot of Ash Smith.

Morpeth’s Jinks clawed three points back with a well taken penalty after Park were caught offside.

With Martin Shaw moved to the bench, Marcus Rutter assumed the fly-half position, and scored his first try of the season with a break through midfield after an attack in the Morpeth 22.

The Park No. 10 jinked his way through and scored under the posts. Smith converted to take Park into a 13-3 lead.

Jinks had the opportunity of cutting the deficit with a penalty about 30 yards out, but after taking some time to take the kick, the ball blew off the tee and he had to take a snap drop goal attempt which went wide.

A few minutes later, Park thought they were through for another try, but the whistle brought play back as the final pass from Smith to Ali Blair was judged to be forward.

With a couple of minutes left in the half, Park were awarded a penalty on halfway, and the decision was made to kick for goal, unfortunately the kick strayed wide of the posts.

Park started briskly in the second period but a penalty by Smith went begging.

The visitors exerted pressure on Morpeth and a couple of penalties against the home side, took Park up to the five-metre line.

A lineout and catch and drive saw the Preston Avenue side over the line, with Craig Fidler getting the touch down. Smith was on target with the goal attempt.

Morpeth came back as Jinks used successive penalties to kick to the corner, but hooker Dickinson had earlier left the field and their lineout proved a little wayward, and Park were able to weather the storm.

On 65 minutes Rutter crossed the line for his second of the day.

A Morpeth scrum inside their own half, was driven backwards and the ball came out on the Park side, with John Scott picking up and breaking for the line.

The ball was off-loaded to Rutter who stepped on the gas and scored, and again Smith converted to make it 27-3.

Morpeth had a couple of further chances to attack the Park line resulting from penalties, but the strong defence held out, with a noticeable increase in the tackle count from front rowers Purdy, Dunn and Wafer.

Anth Dunn was shown a yellow card for slowing down a Morpeth attack five metres out, but again Morpeth were repelled as Park cleared their lines.

Unfortunately Park couldn’t score the vital fourth try, but a good performance nonetheless.

Park Lions and Penguins were in cup final action at Whitley Bay Rockcliff, against Morpeth Edwardians and Tynedale Veterans.

The Lions retained the cup with a 29-17 win, but the Penguins lost out.