Percy Park battle to win over Wheatley Hills

Jimmy Baldwin goes over for Percy Park's first try in their win over Wheatley Hills.
Jimmy Baldwin goes over for Percy Park's first try in their win over Wheatley Hills.

Going into their game Percy Park and Wheatley Hills were on the same number of league points with both having won three of their four matches.

But Park were one place higher in North 1 East due to a better overall points difference.

Again Park had to shuffle the pack, with Ben Bell failing a late fitness test having picked up an injury against Alnwick last week, and with skipper Michael Langlands also out with injury, Sean Williamson moved from lock to number 8. This gave Karl Thompson a starting spot in the second row.

The first half was a scrappy affair with neither side gaining overall dominance, although Wheatley did have the lion’s share of possession.

Owen Gillvray put the visitors ahead on three minutes with a penalty and could have stretched the lead but pulled a second attempt wide.

Ash Smith equalised ten minutes later before Gillvray and Smith traded further penalties, and then Smith put Park in front 9-6 on 35 minutes.

Just before the break, Wheatley Hills lost their open-side to the sin bin for persistent infringing.

Hills started the second half brightly, and the aptly named Kris Fullman, who had been a thorn in the Park side with numerous carries in the game, barged his way over the line for a try only three minutes into the period. Gillvray kicked the extras to put his team in 13-9 ahead.

Park hit back immediately with a superb team effort of a try, finished off by right wing Jimmy Baldwin.

The hosts had a lineout inside the Wheatley half which was thrown to the back and was passed to John Scott, and he attacked the defensive line. The ball was passed down the back line before left wing Liam Blackburn was stopped five metres out. The recycled ball was spun back across field with forwards and backs linking before Ali Blair broke loose and drew the last defender to put Baldwin in for the unconverted try.

Stu Cannon came off the bench to open-side to good effect and scored for Park on 54 minutes after Smith had cut through heavy traffic to offload to the flanker in support for the try.

Although Smith had kicked three from three in the first half, form deserted him in the second and the conversion was wide of the mark.

The Park fly-half had a chance to make amends with a long range penalty kick, but the attempt hit the bar and unfortunately no Park players were backing up to capitalise on the rebound as the visitors cleared their lines.

With three minutes to go, Wheatley threw the kitchen sink at the home defence which held firm, and when awarded a penalty in front of the sticks, they surprisingly opted for the kick at goal rather than a scrum despite being a man up in the pack with Sean Williamson having previously been shown a yellow card for slowing down Hills possession.

Park led 19-16 and moments earlier had brought on Thomas Turnbull to add experience to the back line.

The Park veteran moved in to the fly-half slot with Smith moving across one into the centre position.

With time ticking away Park looked to hold on to their slender lead and were awarded a scrum on the visitors ten-metre line. Wheatley did their best to wheel and disrupt the set-piece, and with the referee signalling an advantage, Thomas Turnbull struck a long range drop goal straight between the posts, and being the last kick of the game Park had won 22-16.

Next week the 1st XV travel to Bradford and Bingley, and the other three senior sides are in action at Preston Avenue with the Lions taking on Morpeth Reivers, the Pumas playing Medicals II and the Marauders Medical Serpents.