Percy Park through to Senior Cup semi-finals

Percy Park's Karl Thompson takes on the Alnwick defence.
Percy Park's Karl Thompson takes on the Alnwick defence.

Percy Park are through to the semi-finals of the Northumberland Senior Cup after a 26-21 win over Alnwick.

They will meet either Morpeth, Team Northumbria or Tynedale Raiders in the last four.

In a well-matched evenly contested game, Park always seemed to have the edge, with a strong platform provided by the pack. After a scrappy start with both sides finding their feet it was the visitors who opened the scoring with a penalty from fly half Alex Richards, although this was matched minutes later by Callum Burn and the score was level at 3-3 after the first quarter of the match.

The game was halted momentarily after a clash of heads saw a player from each side leave the field, and although the Alnwick player seemed to have come off worst in the collision, it was Marc Cook for Park who was unable to return to the game with a gash requiring further treatment.

Percy Park then came close to scoring the first try after a break by centre Ricky Hasnip, who linked with full-back Michael Groves.

Olly Gilmore received the final pass but was denied by a try-saving tackle close to the Alnwick line.

Park were dominant in the scrummage but were penalised on a couple of occasions when the scrum came up under pressure.

But the pack settled down and with the referee playing advantage for a scrum infringement this time to Park, John Scott’s attempted drop goal fell inches short.

The penalty was awarded, however, and up stepped former Percy Park youth player of the year Alex Richards to put Park in front 6-3 on 25 minutes.

Alnwick came back from the restart and were soon awarded a penalty as the Park back-row were penalised for not being bound to the scrum.

Callum Burn missed with the kick but soon after again brought the scores level when a penalty attempt against the wind was on target.

The home side were soon defending again and a miss-timed clearance kick stalled in the wind catching several Alnwick players within ten metres of the ball and they were penalised as a result.

Richards kicked the points as half-time approached, and then just before the break kicked his fourth penalty to give his side a 12-6 lead at the break.

Alnwick had the benefit of the slope and wind in the second half but were soon down to 14 players as their number eight was shown a yellow card for slowing down ball as Park attacked in the red zone.

Refusing the shot at goal, the ball was kicked to touch and from the resulting lineout Park’s skipper Andy Dunn crossed for the try after a driving maul was stopped just short of the line. Alex Richards kicked the conversion and Park were now leading 19-6.

As soon as the home team were restored to their full compliment they managed to score their first try as prop Danny Clayton went over for the score that was converted by Burn.

The score spurred on the home team, and when Leo Caulfield was sin binned on the hour, Park were under the cosh, but they kept Alnwick from scoring with a solid defence despite being a man down.

Toby Davison came on initially at outside centre and immediately showed his pace after another good break by Hasnip put him in space.

The ball was taken right up to the Alnwick line before replacement lock Karl Thompson drove over for Park’s second try of the game.

With Alex Richards now off the field Toby Davison took over kicking duties and scored the extra two points to take Park into a 26-13 lead with ten minutes of the game remaining.

Alnwick were not out of the game but needed two converted tries to go through to the next round, and when the ball was chipped over the Park defence in their 22, Davison was penalised for impeding the kicker and was sent to the sin bin.

The home side kicked to the corner and scored a converted try as flanker Olly Hamilton touched down.

Park disputed the try, claiming scrum-half John Scott had got under the ball rather than it being touched down, but referee Greg Dawson was having none of it.

The 80 minutes were now up and Park had the chance to kill off the game with a penalty. With both kickers off the field, full-back Michael Groves stepped up, but his kick was just wide of the right hand post.

Park supporters were treated to a nervous few minutes as Alnwick looked to score a converted try to steal the game at the death, but the visitors held on for the win 26-20.

Next week the league campaign starts with a visit to new boys Guisborough, promoted to North 1 East after winning Durham & Northumberland 1 last season.