Percy Park RFC were made to work hard for their second successive home victory at Preston Avenue as Northumberland County Cup champions Morpeth RFC gave them a thorough work-out.
Percy Park lead 22-6 at the midway stage and looked like they would run away with it in the second half, but to Morpeth’s credit they fought back and did not let Park have it all their own way.
Park’s first try came in the third minute when Marc Cook used his large frame to good effect to drive in from one metre out after a quick tap from a penalty came up just short.
Then after some good phase rugby which saw both the backs and forwards linking up well, Ethan Wilson spotted a gap in the defence and ran in under the posts to make it 14-0 inside the first ten minutes.
A penalty for not rolling away while Park were again hot on attack deep into Morpeth’s half gave Todd Harrison an easy kick to make it 17-0 and everything seemed to be going Park’s way.
But Morpeth regrouped and after finally getting their hands on the ball in Park’s half they were awarded a penalty for hands in the ruck. Young full-back Kieran Brown slotted the points and Morpeth were on the scoreboard.
Just as Morpeth looked to work their way back into the game, a break was made by hard running full-back Toby Davison who then off-loaded to Alex Tilley to draw the last defender and put Wilson in for his second try of the day which halted the fight back, although Morpeth did end the half with another penalty.
Morpeth were first to score in the second half after some nice off-load play by their forwards rode them deep inside Park’s 22. The ball was spun wide and a missed tackle in the midfield gave the Morpeth winger an easy run in. The conversion was missed and Morpeth were back in it at 22-11.
Fresh from winning the League 1 Shield with Newcastle Thunder, Ali Blair came off the bench for Park to make an immediate impact by picking a gap in the defence then linking with Guy Pike who was stopped just short of the line. The forwards kept the ball tight before the ball was sent wide for Pike to cross the line for his first of two tries for the afternoon.
Pike rounded off the scoring when Blair put him away for a try in the right corner.
Park were worth their 34-11 victory despite being made to work all the way.
Percy Park RFC: 15 Toby Davidson, 14 Jimmy Baldwin, 13 Guy Pike, 12 Alex Tilley, 11 Kieran Sutherland, 10 Todd Harrison, 9 John Scott; 1 Marc Cook, 2 Andrew Dunn (captain), 3 Michael Birkett, 4 Austin Phillips, 5 Karl Thompson, 6 Sean Williamson, 7 Ethan Wilson, 8 Michael Langlands. Replacements: Sam Jobson, Daniel Ward, Ali Blair.
Morpeth Reivers 3 - 77 Percy Park Lions
Meanwhile Percy Park Lions travelled with a depleted side to play Morpeth Reivers and even had to enlist the services of the ‘aged’ coach to make the team up to 14.
Morpeth took an early penalty lead but were soon on the receiving end of 11 tries and 11 conversions in a 77-3 win for the Lions.
Tries were by Grove, Blackburn (2), Danilli, Spowart, Newstead (3) and Lenahan (3), while Spowart converted them all. This keeps the Lions top of Candy League 1.