On Friday 26th June, Park set off for Costa Rica for their first full tour since 2006. Tour rules prevent the reporting of the off-field cultural activities but it would be fair to say that one would have been wise to buy a few shares in Imperial Brewing.
There was initial disappointment when the first game against San Jose Stags was cancelled due to a rain-affected pitch but our hosts worked to find a venue for a rearranged midweek night fixture under lights on Thursday.
Park knew little about what to expect from their opponents but after a week of heavy drinking laid off for the day to be ready for the game.
Park were well prepared for a tour game in the forwards with almost two full packs to rotate throughout the match but in the backs McEntee and Sperger were pressed into action as emergency wingers as Rock and Skinner had already flown home.
Park began brightly and scored after only 5 minutes when a penalty try was awarded for an offence close to the wide left touchline. Bean converted, an act that was to become a habit over the two games. “Cooney who?”
The strength of the Stags was their scrum. Anchored by a very tight front row, they ensured Park did not have everything their own way. They had talent too in the back row with their Number 8 prominent throughout the game.
Root stretched (possibly twice) over to add to a Bean penalty and midway through the half, Park held a 17 point lead. The Stags fought back and using their kick and chase tactics pulled back a score.
Brady, playing an inspirational match as tour captain, scampered in for Park’s next try, spotting a gap at the base of a ruck but the Stags once again replied.
Andejeski completed the first half scoring with a strong run, starting to show his power returning after a long layoff.
The Stags threw themselves into every contact situation and their commitment to the tackle could not be faulted, however Park played with more structure and organisation and created gaps, especially in the wide channels.
In the second half Park continued to add points. Carroll scored a long range run despite Coleman’s best efforts to trip him and Coleman himself and Bean also added tries.
Final score was 53-15.
In their second game, Park took on what was essentially Costa Rica’s National second team and cam away with another resounding win.
The Costa Ricans came out strong in the opening minutes and pinned Park back for the first ten minutes. Park weathered the early storm and took the lead with Bean penalty after 10 minutes. A Carroll break set up Prengeman for Park’s first try before the fullback added a try of his own.
Park’s backs began to take advantage of a strong scrum performance and often found space in the wide channels. However it was Laux who scored next for Park celebrating with an unfortunate rendition of the Princess Kenny show.
Park were again liberal with their substitutions and while the back line again were forced into 80 minutes of action, the tight-five revolved regularly allowing Root several attempts at practicing his customary call to the sideline.
Togher challenged his status as Number 2 Kevin with a hat-trick of tries that sure demanded a re-vote, while Drew in the commentary box made certain the internet became aware of who Kevin Number 3 was. And perhaps the hit of the week (Togher on Koss aside) was Stein laying the shoulder as his attempted tackler was left prone underfoot.
All in all, considering the week’s training regime, a thoroughly splendid performance by all Park’s touring side.
Squad: Root, Bitar, Perez, Stead, Wilson, Todd, Togher, Andejeski, Maurer, Meschke, Coleman, Jahner, Laux, Welling, Brady, Koss, Stein, Bean, Sullivan, Sperger, McEntee, Carroll, Rock, Mitchell, Ryan, Jansing, Wall