Birkenhead Park 12, Kirkby Lonsdale 34

BIRKENHEAD Park opened their campaign in the new North Premier League with a match against fellow promoted Kirkby Lonsdale at the Upper Park.

The Cumbrians raced into a 15-point lead in the first 10 minutes, a position from which Park could not recover.

Full-back Ryan Terry opened the scoring for Kirkby with a penalty after just two minutes and winger Harry Ralston crossed in the corner with Terry adding the conversion.

Stand off Dave Barton was next over the line as the visitors threatened to run amok with a high- tempo opening.

To their credit, Park steadied the ship with debutant scrum half Josh Stead prominent.

Park subjected the Kirkby defence to a prolonged barrage and eventually the pressure saw flanker Ross Towers sent to the sin bin as they fought to keep Park at bay.

Park were unable to make their numerical advantage tell and Kirkby extended their lead through prop Cameron Rowse with Terry again converting.

Park were left facing a mountain to climb as they found themselves 22-0 down at half time.

Park started the second half well and after good work by the forwards replacement scrum half Sam Chidley broke through for a try converted by Dave Hall.

Kirkby went on the attack and Park defended bravely, but eventually centre Scot Armstrong broke through for the try to end any lingering hopes of a comeback.

Armstrong made the running for Kirkby's final try, finished off by scrum-half Ben Walker.

There was time left for Park to have the final say when a sustained build up led to second row Josh Smith driving over for a second home try with Hall's conversion rebounding off the post.

Park's director of Rugby Martin O'Keefe said: "It was a disappointing result for us but there were some positives to take as well.

"Ollie Mabbot looks back to his best in the back row after missing a lot of last season and skipper Jack Ashcroft also had a good match.

"Dave Morgan showed some good touches at stand off and Gaz Coy and Danny Rich had their moments in the centre”

On Saturday Park travel to Rossendale to face Lancashire rivals Rossendale at Marl Pits.