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Disappointment for Birkenhead Park in promotion play-off
THE big occasion sadly turned out to be just too much for Birkenhead Park as true Yorkshire grit brought about their downfall.
A very fine season by any standards for the Upper Park outfit ended in abject disappointment as they missed out on a return to National Three North League at the hands of a competent Huddersfield YMCA squad.
The promotion play-off was always going to be close but Park from a winning position got the basics wrong as the YM turned the winner takes all match around in their favour in the last half-hour.
The home side went in 13-9 ahead at the break and with wind advantage in the second-half quickly increased their advantage to ten points.
Out of the blue Huddersfield with a man in the sin bin suddenly cut the home defence wide open for a try by Ed Barber and very soon added another through Tom Bentley to make it 19-19 on 57 minutes.
Park’s Stuart Brown then saw yellow and the buoyant visitors exploited the situation with touch downs through James Bell and Gavin Stead against tiring and shell-shocked opponents.
There was to be no way back for the local outfit and the result along with a brief spell of heavy rain certainly dampened a carnival occasion.
It finished 29-19 in favour of Huddersfield and in scoring four tries to one few if any could begrudge them their step up to the National scene.
On another day it might have been a different story, but it appeared it was just one game too many for Park after a gruelling eight months.
In the opening period, skipper Dave Hall hit a brace of penalties for Park and also converted when Ollie Mabbutt got over after a lively passing move was blocked deep in the Huddersfield 22.
The visitors secured three first-half kicks via Stead.
So the local derbies between Park and promoted Wirral will not occur next season Park will instead be able to look forward to clashes with neighbours New Brighton who have joined them in North One West League.
It was always going to be a huge challenge in National Three with limited resources and certainly on the cash front Park may be better maintaining the status quo.
“It was a terrific occasion with the biggest crowd we have enjoyed for many years. It was just a pity they did not see us at our best. Huddersfield were the better side in the closing stages and we could not really complain at the outcome”, said Park spokesman Peter Greville.
Caldy, who were playing their Cheshire Cup final against Sale at Lymm on Sunday night, rounded off their National Two North League programme with a 34-15 home success over Sedgley Park.
It was a 15th win of the campaign and leaves them placed in a creditable eighth in the table.
Cheshire begin their County Championship programme against Yorkshire at Sale on Saturday, May 10, followed by a clash with Northumberland at Caldy a week later.
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