Under-strength Percy Park dismayed at Christmas fixture

Sean Williamson scoring Percy Park's second try.
Sean Williamson scoring Percy Park's second try.

Whoever at the RFU decided that league games should be played on the Saturday before Christmas did no favours to Percy Park, and daresay many other clubs throughout the country.

With all the distractions and unavailabilities, not to mention injuries, Percy Park hit the road to Morley with 15 players as frantic phone calls resulted in the half-back pairing from the Lions being snatched and driven south by car to make up a geriatric bench.

Promotion favourites Morley had lost narrowly in the previous week at the hands of league leaders Doncaster Phoenix and were looking to end 2015 with a double over Park having won the season home opener at Preston Avenue 21-10.

With Park missing skipper Andy Dunn and Michael Langlands in the pack and Ricki Hasnip, Ali Blair and Kieran Sutherland in the back line, they were forced into a game of chance in the midfield, which sadly turned into a game of Russian roulette with several loaded chambers, as Morley ran in three tries in the first eight minutes.

South African full-back Dante Van der Merwe made short work of the heavy conditions as he danced his way through the Park defence for the opening try in the first minute.

Scores from Richard Knowles and then wing Karl Bradshaw cut the Park defence to shreds as the Morley back line looked as though they would score every time they had the ball in hand.

Park shook off the early onslaught and opened their account with a Paul Spowart penalty before the Maroons scored their bonus point try on 17 minutes as Van der Merwe scored his second of the game, which was duly converted by former Leeds Carnegie player Mark Chester.

Things looked even bleaker for the black and whites as a fumbled ball on half way led to a kick through and a fifth try, this time by centre Scott Gwynne. Chester converted on 21 minutes the home side were already out of sight at 31-3.

From a Morley perspective they took their foot off the gas, from a Park view point they began to play some rugby with a forward pack who were more than a match for the Scatchard Lane side.

After several attempts Park were held up over, or short of the try line, but Josh Hedley eventually went over for five points on 30 minutes.

There were no further scores in the first half as Morley went into the changing rooms 31-8 up, while Park stayed on the field.

Park made two changes at the break with veterans Thomas Turnbull and George Purdy taking to the field. Earlier in the first half Davy Kay had made his season’s debut when coming on at scrum-half for the injured Jimmy Baldwin.

Park had the wind and slope advantage in the second period, but despite stemming the Morley try onslaught for a full 35 minutes since the 21st minute try , the Yorkshiremen eventually went over from a catch and drive on 56 minutes.

Loose defensive play a few minutes later saw prop Ben Bell go over unchallenged as the home side led 45-8 with 20 minutes of the game remaining.

Despite the foodlights being on, and with a steady drizzle falling from the leaded sky, it was difficult to make out one team from another, this being the only reason possible for Morley’s final try as Park took a quick lineout to Morley scrum-half Kenny Sewell, who ran half the length of the field to bring up his side’s half century.

Park did score a consolation try just before the end of the game as number eight Sean Williamson drove over and Paul Spowart converted.

There will now be a welcome break in the league with the next game coming up at home on January 9 when Park entertain Alnwick.

On Boxing Day, Park meet Whitley Bay Rockcliff for the annual derby fixture which this year is at Preston Avenue, kick-off 2.15pm.