THE understated celebrations that greeted the final whistle of the Northumberland RFU Senior Cup final proved that Percy Park had still not overcome the massive disappointment of losing their promotion play-off four days earlier.
The history books show Park had not won the cup since 1958, so to both win this trophy and finish in the highest league placing in the club’s history is testimony to the hard work of the players and coaches throughout the season.
The final at McCracken Park against Tynedale Raiders was watched by a good sized crowd.
During the first 20 minutes Borthwick and Rutter exchanged penalty goals, and Park led 9-6 until Ali Gray surged down the right wing to score in the corner for Tynedale just before half-time. Borthwick missed the conversion but the Corbridge side went in 11-9 up.
Park started the second half in the best possible manner with a try with only a minute played.
Ash Smith made a surging break and was unlucky to be pulled up for a forward pass.
From the resulting scrum, Park’s pack dominance put Raiders under huge pressure and scrum-half John Scott stole the ball and spun it wide for Martin Shaw to go in at the corner.
Referee Wayne Falla consulted his touch judge before awarding the try, and although the conversion was short, Park now led 14-11.
Rutter had a chance to increase the lead but missed a penalty left of the posts. Borthwick then had the chance to draw level but he too missed.
Percy Park then had their best spell of the game with constant pressure on the Tynedale line.
Solid defence kept the Park forwards at bay, but in the set scrum Park had the measure of their Tynedale counterparts, and looked to be going over the line from a five-metre scrum, but the front rows came up and Park were awarded another penalty.
Tyne pulled out all the stops to keep the Park eight, out and eventually cleared their lines.
On the hour mark, Percy Park were once again encamped on the Tynedale line, and instead of going for the push over try, spun the ball wide and Howard Stock scored on the right wing.
The unconverted try meant Park were two scores ahead at 19-11.
n Turn to page 85
Tynedale had not given up the ghost just yet and a converted try on 68 minutes brought them to within a point.
But Park stretched their lead with a Simon Greatham try straight from the training ground.
Park had won a scrum just outside the Tynedale 22, and Scott passed from the base of the scrum to Rutter at first receiver. He then ran around to take a short pass and offloaded to Greatham on the charge, who burst through the defence and stepped the cover to score under the posts. The 73rd minute conversion took Park to 26-18.
Tyne immediately responded with a converted try with two minutes of normal time remaining, bringing them back to within a point at 26-25.
Park then countered with an Andy Dunn try in injury time after the forwards battered away at the Tynedale line, with strong runs by George Purdy and Joe Wafer.
The conversion would have left Tynedale needing two scores to win, however, Rutter was off target.
So, with Park 31-25 up with 85 minutes on the stop-watch, play continued. A converted try by Tyne would give them a one point win at the death – déjà vu.
But Park dug deep for the remaining one minute and when Tynedale knocked on in an attack on the Park ten-metre line, the scrum was set and the ball hoofed off the pitch as the final whistle went.
Percy Park had won the Northumberland Senior Cup, to be placed alongside the No 2 Cup in the trophy cabinet.
This is the first time since 1950 that Percy Park’s 1st XV and Lions have won the Northumberland County Cups in the same year.