Park maintain top spot through win

Percy Park RFC captain John Scott in action against Pontefract.
Percy Park RFC captain John Scott in action against Pontefract.

LAST season Pontefract did the double over Percy Park RFC, but this time the black and whites gained revenge.

Following a resounding 68-24 win at home last October, Percy Park travelled to Moor Lane to complete the double, but not without a few nervous moments near the end.

Park rested Thomas Turnbull and Ash Smith to the bench, but a late cry-off by Craig Firth with a back injury meant Smith started at outside-centre and Adam Fidler was called up from the Lions.

The low overnight temperatures meant that as the team bus left Preston Avenue, the pitch at Pontefract was still frozen, but the gamble paid off as the sun came out and by kick-off the thaw had set in and the game went ahead.

The cold day brought handling errors from each side.

Park struck first as Smith had pinned the home side back in their 22 with a good touch kick.

Brett Sylph then stole the Pontefract ball at the front of the line, and the tapped ball saw Howard Stock finishing off the try in the right hand corner. The conversion dropped short.

Pontefract were awarded a penalty for Park being offside and the home side kicked to touch on the visitors 22.

The lineout was won and a controlled drive led to a try by Mike Burnett, but Andy Dean missed the conversion.

Percy Park had several chances to hit back and had a lineout inside the Pontefract 22. Unfortunately the throw to the back did not find a jumper and the home side relieved the pressure.

Play moved back to the Park half and when they were penalised, Dean stepped forward to convert the penalty on 40 minutes.

Park had the best possible start to the second half when Smith retrieved a kick deep in his own half and surged upfield, breaking through several tackles before passing to Marcus Rutter.

The Park full-back raced to the line for the score under the posts, and Smith converted to take Park back in front.

The tactic from the visitors was obviously to pick up the pace of the game, and seven minutes later they scored again, this time from a five-metre scrum near the Pontefract line.

The scrummage wheeled and No. 8 Sylph picked up and drove over for the score, which Smith converted.

Park, now keen to collect a valuable bonus point, were going for their fourth try but Pontefract defended well, until the 73rd minute when Park were awarded a scrum near the Pontefract line.

The clean ball was fed to scrum-half John Scott from Sylph, Dave Griffiths then took a well timed pass to crash over the line, but the try was unconverted.

With only seven minutes remaining and Park 24-8 up, the game looked to be in the bag, however, the home side had other ideas, especially after coming back from 21-0 down the previous week against Old Brods to win 32-28 in the last minute.

Speedy right wing Simon Spears finished off a good try going close to the posts to assist Dean with the conversion.

Park regrouped and found themselves with men over close to the Pontefact line but a wayward pass set the home side on the attack, which ended 90 yards upfield with Dean scoring in the 82nd minute, although the conversation was missed.

The game restarted and with the referee signalling the last play of the game, Park won a scrum and the ball was passed back to Rutter to kick the ball off the pitch to end the game. Unfortunately Rutter took his eye off the ball and knocked on, giving Pontefract a scrum near halfway.

The Park pack spared their full-back’s blushes and proceeded to win the scrum against the head with Scott passing to Smith to clear the ball into touch for the bonus point win, but not without a struggle at the end.

West Hartlepool stayed one point off Park at the top of the league, but with a game in hand after a bonus point win over Old Brods.

n Elsewhere, Percy Park Lions had their home game against Horden II in the Candy League division 2 called off at the last minute while the Pumas won 24-22 away against Jarrovians I.

This weekend all five of Park’s sides are in action with the 1st XV playing Team Northumbria at home. The Pumas and Marauders both play Blyth and the Academy entertain Scarborough.