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Vale of Lune's cup hopes dashed by South Shields side

The Vale of Lune 1st team

Match Report: Vale of Lune 17 - Percy Park 26

The spring sunshine lit up the beautifully manicured pitch at Powder House Lane for this Papa John's Cup fixture against Percy Park from South Shields.

The NW2 league was all done three weeks before, so the Vale 1st XV were well rested and raring to go.

Co Captain Harry Fellows returned from sick bay, but other injuries meant that the Vale were without Sam Peters and internet sensation Damon Hall. His double kick-and-chase try against Birkenhead Park in March is still setting pulses racing the world over. 

Early exchanges took the play up and down the pitch, effectively cancelling out each others efforts before any points could be gained.

The deadlock was broken after 15 minutes by a penalty kick from Chris Ramwell from the 22 metre line.

Percy Park reset themselves and came back strongly. Their big forwards made the breaks but they lacked the pace to make the ground. A particularly voluminous second row forward was bearing down on the Vale's compact but tenacious Harrison Dodge.

It was a 'David and Goliath' moment and the crowd anticipated a flattening. Dodge timed his tackle expertly, taking the colossus around his knees and bringing him to the ground like a lumberjack felling a redwood. 

The onslaught continued but Percy Park made better use of their speedy backs. When the Vale allowed a three man overlap to appear on their left wing, Percy Park pounced and claimed the lead. They began to look like a higher division side but it was not to last.

A scrum on the half-way line resulted in Jack Ayrton emerging with ball in hand to make the hard yards. A pass to Billy Swarbrick then another to Ben Walker to cross the try-line in the right corner gave a half-time lead to the Vale of 10 points to seven. 

The second half brought a resurgence to the Percy Park output. Some lacklustre tackling allowed the left winger through to score and another try soon followed under the posts.

The Vale also found greater depths to their resolve. Switching play to the visitors' try-line, it was Sam Walton who claimed his first ever try for the Vale first team. Ramwell's place kicking was exemplary and the game was poised for a dramatic conclusion.

With only two points between the teams with ten minutes to go, the  cup-tie atmosphere was electric. However, the energy dipped when second row Joe Harrison, who had been the Vale's most effective forward, executed a powerful tackle but was, in the opinion of the referee, deemed to lack the requisite degree of arm contact. Harrison saw yellow and left the field. The Vale crowd unanimously disagreed.  

Down to 14 men, the Vale dug deep and defended valiantly. It was, ultimately, to no avail. Percy Park used their advantage to press the Vale to their own try-line and cross for a try, putting the men from South Shields out of reach.

The game ended on a whimper but an appreciative home crowd applauded their team with gratitude for an excellent season. 

Team:   J. Stevens, A. Powers, M. Mount, G. Oyston, H. Fellows, A. Bolton, S. Wallbank, J. Ayrton, B. Swarbrick, O. Jacques, J. Fern, E. Robertson, C. Ramwell, H. Dodge, B. Walker.    Reps: J. Harrison, S. Walton, J. Batty. 

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