14/15 Wanderers. Percy Park Lions 35 - 31 Wanderers

Sat. 28th February 2015. Northern Wanderers vs Percy Park Lions. Candy League 1 - away.
The afternoon was stress free until first hooker Lloyd Holmes announced that he was going direct to Park but his kit was going to be at Northern and needed a lift, then lock Finn Healy rang to say he was at Silverlink trying to get some size 15 boots to replace the pair floating in the river next to Morpeth RFC after his car crash before the last game!! Having said that, the 16 players looked focussed in the warm up and started the game well. With Park playing with a strong wind they were able to relieve sustained Northern pressure with a good kicking game and on 12 minutes they scored a converted try very much against the run of play when a Northern line out deep in the 22 was lost. From the resulting scrum their no. 8 fed their inside centre who ran a great line to touch down under the posts. Northern were not fazed by this and kept up the pressure until on 20 minutes Park conceded a penalty which no. 8 Ryan Moore converted from 30 metres. Northern continued to press and on 24 minutes Park were reduced to 14 men when their back row was somewhat harshly sin-binned for killing the ball. Northern elected to kick for the line out but again their set piece malfunctioned and Park were able to clear their lines. Northern finally got their reward when they forced a 5 metre scrum in the 35th minute and the ball was recycled from the pick-up and drive to fly half James Hattersley who scythed through for an excellent try which Ryan Moore converted. Northern finished strongly when in the 39th minutes lock Tom Sealby stole the ball from a Park line out and from the break down crisp passing from James Hattersley put away outside centre Harry Clark who ran a great angle to score. The conversion from Ryan Moore was good to leave the half time score: Northern Wanderers 17 – Percy Park 7.
Northern continued where they left off at half time and pressed from the restart. On 46 minutes they used the ball well from an attacking scrum in the Park 22 moving the ball right and tying in the Park midfield. Northern recycled quickly and moved the ball left with a long pass from scrum half Joss Pinsent to Harry Clark. The centre showed great pace (the new ‘go faster’ boots working well) to touch down for a fine try which was again converted by Ryan Moore. Northern’s concentration slipped at this point and their exit play was poor despite having a strong wind behind them and on 53 minutes following a poor kick out of the 22 Park forced a 5 metre scrum and duly scored a converted try by no. 8. Northern did respond from the kick off and Park conceded a penalty 35 metres out but the kick just faded to the right despite a good strike by Ryan Moore. Northern again struggled to win their own ball from a line out in their 22 and Park capitalised on 65 minutes to score another converted try to close within three points. The Northern pack were tiring at this point with back rows Anth Baird and Mat Brooks both requiring treatment. Park sensed this and upped their game breaking the Northern defence on 70 minutes to score a soft converted try although the final pass did appear well forward. Northern did have an opportunity to cut the deficit when being awarded two kickable penalties 25 metres out but on both occasions a lack of composure showed when both were tapped and taken quickly with Park defending the threat and clearing their lines. Park scored a further converted try on 74 minutes when poor Northern tackling allowed another score. Northern however, were not finished and rallied for the final 6 minutes pressing Park back into their own half. The pressure eventually told when the forwards drove on and provided quick ball for the backs. Good handling moved the ball wide then an inside pass back to centre Spike Strang who sprinted in for a bonus point try on 79 minutes which Ryan Moore converted to reduce the deficit to four points. Northern took the restart and forced Park back into their own half where they conceded a kickable penalty. This was the last play so prop and skipper Ian Brierley took a quick tap and made a fine run to the line. There were two men outside him but Park were able to smother tackle and kick the ball out. Final score: Northern Wanderers 31 – Percy Park 35.

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