Park maintain the pressure at the top

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PERCY Park RFC celebrated five wins from all its teams, from 1st XV to Academy, as nearly 90 players pulled on their boots for the club.

There were four games at Preston Avenue with the 1st XV beating Old Crossleyans, the Pumas defeating Consett II 33-14, the Marauders recording a 22-5 win against West End, and the Colts beating Carlisle 19-12.

Away from home, the Lions beat Gosforth Phoenix at Druids Park 50-0.

Having lost so many games to frost and snow in recent weeks, heavy overnight rain threatened to scupper rugby once again.

However, the rain abated and in the end all games went ahead, despite heavy conditions under foot.

Old Crossleyans travelled from Halifax with two of their key players unavailable, injured was influential No.8 Manny Riaz while player coach Chris Jones was ruled out with flu.

Park made a few changes in the starting line-up. With coach James Ponton injured, Greg Dixon moved to No.8 and Sean Williamson came in at blind side, and with Martin Shaw available, he came into the side at fly half which meant Ash Smith moved to full-back and Dave Griffiths to the bench.

The home side had the wind advantage and kicked off with the ball going straight out, and from the resulting scrum on half way, the Park pack showed their superiority.

Park had most of the early play and the first score came after 11 minutes with a try from Craig Fidler.

Percy Park won a lineout in the Old Crocs half and drove the ball up the left. From the ruck, Craig Fidler picked up the ball and surged towards the line, beating one man then driving through the tackle of the last defender using all of his 6ft 7ins frame to stretch for the line to make the score. Smith converted.

Eight minutes later the home side stretched the lead after a strong run by Smith set up good possession. The ball was recycled to centre Ali Blair who powered through several tackles and stretched for the line to score.

Smith placed the ball for the conversion, but as he addressed the ball, it fell off the tee, and with some quick thinking picked up the ball and drop kicked the conversion before the advancing defenders could charge down.

Park had the ascendancy, and from another lineout drove the ball deep into the Old Crossleyans half, Fidler’s drive was stopped, but Michael Langlands was on hand to pick up and go over for another try.

Smith was unlucky to hit the left hand post with the conversion.

The Halifax side started the second half badly with a miscued kick-off which allowed Park early possession, but the visitors fought back and pressed the Park line. However, Smith pounced on a slow pass to run the length of the pitch to score out wide and gain the valuable bonus point, but he missed the difficult conversion.

Smith was in the action again five minutes later when Crossleyans kicked deep and the Park full-back ran the ball back, taking three defenders to bring him to ground. The ball was quickly released to the left and Blair used his pace to stride for the line.

With a 29–0 lead, Park stepped off the gas which allowed the Yorkshiremen into the game.

A scrum in Park’s 22 gave the visitors valuable attacking ball, which eventually saw flanker Sembi power through several tacklers to score.

As Park continued to maintain pressure, Martin Shaw scored a try for the home side, which John Scott converted.

Scott then made Percy Park’s final try of the game with a superb break from half way resulting from a scrum. The Park No.9 then drew the last man to put Howard Stock in for the try ,which was unconverted.

Crocs gained a consolation score with a sniping try by Travis, which lock Rory Davis converted.

Park maintain pressure on league leaders West Hartlepool who’s narrow win against Morpeth did not earn them a bonus point.

On Saturday Park entertain Driffield, with the match being sponsored by Fortress Aluminium.