Percy Park took the relatively short journey down the A19 to Welfare Park to take on Horden, who currently prop up North 1 East.
With Park lying second in the league and having already beaten the hosts earlier in the season the expectations were that Park would have an easy win. However, that was not to be the case.
Horden kicked off with all the elements in their favour – wind, slope and sun at their backs. The pitch was in good nick and the home side pinned Park down in their own 22 for the first five minutes before being awarded a penalty which right wing Craig Jones kicked to give his side an early lead.
From the re-start Park attacked up the hill and looked to have scored as Howard Stock, making his season’s debut in the 1st XV, crossed the line, only for the try to be ruled out as play was brought back for a Horden penalty.
The game was officiated by an exchange referee from Yorkshire who was being assessed. It soon became evident that the priority of the day was to be policing the put in at the scrum.
Jimmy Baldwin was penalised for feeding and Horden were awarded a free kick. This was escalated to a full penalty at the next scrum as referee Simon Park deemed the infringement a deliberate repeat of the previous free kick. Up stepped Jones to kick his side further in front 6-0.
Percy Park soon hit back with a Toby Davison penalty before the Park scrum half was penalised on two further occasions for feeding. Captain Michael Langlands’ protests fell on deaf ears as Jones kicked the points on offer for 12-3 with 27 minutes gone.
Just before the break Jones made it five from five penalties as the home side ended the half 15-3 up.
Coach Ed Midcalf made the decision to sub the unfortunate Baldwin who had been threatened with a yellow card for his wonky put in, as John Scott moved to scrum half.
After some harsh words at the break, Park upped the pace and began to run the heavy Horden pack around. This paid off inside two minutes as Andy Dunn crossed the try line in the corner from a catch and drive.
With Park now playing down the slope, Ali Blair made a fine break through the Horden defences and was stopped short of scoring, but quick ball found Scott to score an unconverted try.
Park went in front with another Dunn try which was converted, then Scott made sure of the bonus point with his second try of the game.
Despite the host’s determination in the first half, they were unable to live with the increased tempo in the second period, and on 70 minutes Dunn scored his third try of the game and just before the end Scott scored his hat-trick try.
Although this was a rusty performance, Park improved as the game went on, and next week are at home to Alnwick.