Percy Park completed the double over local rivals South Shields Westoe, but it was a close run thing that could have gone in favour of the visitors right up to the last play of the game.
Park made a few changes to last week’s team, with Michael Langlands being ruled out with a toe injury and Thomas Turnbull bringing much needed experience to the back line at fly-half.
If the previous week was soggy, this week was even worse as torrential over night rain continued throughout the day, making it a game for the forwards who enjoy truffling around in such muddy conditions.
Westoe kicked off with an easterly wind at their backs and took the game to Park from the off, certainly not lacking effort and enthusiasm which could so easily be the case for any team propping up the league.
The hosts defended well for the first 20 minutes, but a charged down clearance kick saw lock John Younghusband win the race to the line to get to the ball first for a try on 28 minutes. The conversion was wide of the mark.
With handling extremely difficult, not to mention running in quagmire conditions, both sides elected to play a form of trench warfare as the forwards battled it out for territorial advantage.
There was no addition to the score as the whistle sounded for half time, as players and referee sought the sanctuary of the changing rooms, and Park changed shirts for the second half.
Two penalties on 49 and 54 minutes gave Park a slender lead as Paul Spowart was on target, but he missed a difficult chance for his third attempt as Park elected for a shot at goal rather than kicking to the corner.
Westoe kicked away too much of their possession against the wind, but despite that Park couldn’t capitalise as the half wore on.
The visitors had their best spell of the game well into injury time as they pressured Park.
Another charge down could have undone Park but this time the ball was retrieved and cleared to touch.
With over 14 minutes played of added time and with referee John Ash indicating last play, the South Shields side went through phase after phase getting ever closer to the Park try line.
Resolute defence and with senior players urging “no penalties” any score would have given the visitors the win, but composure and discipline held firm as Westoe eventually knocked on bring the game to an end with 18 added minutes played in the half.
Both sets of players and the referee deserved medals for playing in such awful conditions. Park’s win moves them up to 40 points and brings to an end a losing streak that hopefully they can build on next week away to Northern.
Westoe’s losing bonus point takes them off bottom place in the league.