Park keep up the pressure with bonus point win

Percy Park's Ash Smith tries to break through the West Hartlepool defence.
Percy Park's Ash Smith tries to break through the West Hartlepool defence.

In the run-up to this game, coach Ed Midcalf was quoted saying that Park would run the ball wide at every opportunity, but in reality conditions dictated otherwise and three of Park’s four tries came from the pack.

With floodlights warming up as the players did likewise, a light rain fell as the game kicked off making conditions greasy for handling.

The first score came inside four minutes when the visitors were penalised for pulling down a maul and Ash Smith put Park on the scoreboard with a well-taken penalty.

Park kicked to the corner from yet another penalty and a catch and drive moved towards the West line, with several of the Park backs joining the maul to add momentum, which saw hooker Andy Dunn get the touch down on 21 minutes. Smith kicked the difficult conversion.

With Dan Boatman on the first of several final warnings, Park were given another penalty, kicked again by Smith for a 13-0 lead. Percy Park had more scoring opportunities than the visitors who spilled a good deal of possession in midfield.

When Ben Bell was penalised for coming into the side of a ruck just outside Park’s 22, Zak Southern kicked the three points for 13-3.

Park should have scored before the half ended as Toby Davison showed his pace down the left wing, however with two players on his inside in support and only Stu Waites to beat, he chose to kick ahead. Smith seemed to win the race to score but knocked on just before the try line.

The nearest the visitors came to scoring was when a Smith kick was charged down and centre Peter Youll made a dash for the line, but Park’s defence was solid and the Teesiders were kept out.

In the second half, the home side kept up the pressure, kicking for position and forcing West to win their own line out ball and attack from deep. One such deep kick saw Park win attacking scrum on 5 metres. Dunn picked up and went around the blind side, shimmied and went over for the try that for some reason West disputed. West are always a tough nut to crack and their aggressive defence kept Park at bay for a further ten minutes.

Quick ball gave fly half Smith the chance to side step his way through the broken defensive line to run under the posts for a try which he converted for a 25-3 lead.

With Park currently in second place in North 1 East, they needed a four try bonus point to keep in touch with league leaders Sheffield.

The bonus point came on the hour as once again Park caught a line out and drove to the try line. This time all but three of the Park side joined the maul that saw Ben Bell touch down. Smith kicked the extras. Despite being well behind, West stuck at it and were rewarded with a consolation try on 75 minutes.

Next week Park’s 1st XV travel to Abbeydale to play Sheffield in a game where a win will see them top the league.