A DESPERATE closing spell put paid to Hoylake in their vital South Lancashire/Cheshire One clash against Wigan at Melrose avenue.
It was pencilled in as a must-win affair for the relegation threatened local side but a tense encounter saw Wigan score twice in the last few minutes to post a 25-16 victory.
It was not a pretty affair by any means, but two superb tries, one for each side, in the third quarter certainly livened up the afternoon.
Andy Whittle nipped in for a Wigan touchdown after a ninth-minute line-out, but a couple of penalties by Jack Lavin put Hoylake 6-5 to the good at the interval.
Joe Lavin spearheaded a terrific Hoylake break-out which finished with a memorable Dan Baldock try in the 53rd minute, converted by Jack Lavin.
Whittle soon kicked a 57th minute penalty for the visitors and straight from the re-start a delightful passing move culminated in Dan Mason crossing for Wigan with the Whittle goal edging them in front at 15-13.
Jack Lavin gave Hoylake renewed hope with a 63rd minute penalty making it 16-15 but then it all fell apart. Whittle responded on 73 minutes and a yellow card meant the home side was a man short for the closing stages.
Admirably, they tried to run the ball from their own territory but it rebounded on them as the Lancashire side countered to be awarded a penalty try. The simple Whittle conversion signalling the final whistle.
There is still a long way to go before the end of the season and Hoylake with the right commitment can survive. They look to have some winnable games to come, especially away to bottom of the table Ashton on Mersey this Saturday and against second bottom Manchester in April at home.
Currently, Hoylake sit third bottom a point ahead of Manchester and two behind Tyldesley but with a game in hand on both clubs.
New Brighton comfortably head the table with promotion looking a certainty. Their latest outing resulted in a 19-6 triumph at Glossop.
Fly-half Anthony Birley was Man of the Match for the Blues in a defence dominated affair. He converted his own try and added a penalty for a 10-3 half way advantage. Later Birley was on target with a trio of penalties to confirm the victory.
Glossop had to settle for a penalty in each half.
Anselmians are fourth in the division following a 28-25 success at Tyldesley but a second place finish is probably just out of reach..
Caldy in National Two North featured in an entertaining clash at Harrogate which went the way of the Yorkshire outfit 38-24.
The Paton Field side looked in control when they led 24-3 in the third quarter but Harrogate turned on the style to add five tries and four conversions to a first minute touchdown as the visiting defence fell apart.
Richard Vasey converted his own early try for Caldy and was also on target after Matt Van Sertima and Craig Ross went in before the break. Vasey stretched the advantage with a drop goal shortly after the re-start but then it all went wrong as Caldy were made to pay dearly for a yellow card discretion.
Wirral and Birkenhead Park both posted excellent away wins in North One West. It leaves Wirral six points ahead at the top of the table from Birkenhead who have played a game less.
Wirral finished 24-3 to the good at Vale of Lune where tries via Craig Harvey, Mike Warren, James Annetts and Alistair Baker plus two conversions by the first named ensured a bonus point. Birkenhead came away 24-14 winners from Wigton. Touch downs via Sean Wooff and Stu Brown plus two goals by Dave Hall gave Park a 14-7 interval lead. The home side registered two penalties and one try but were closed out for much of the second period with their only further reward a late penalty.
Birkenhead made sure with two push over tries credited to Dave Ibbotson and Brown again.
There was more disappointment for winless Wallasey in South Lancashire/Cheshire Two. They were on the wrong side of a 3-55 score at Cross Lane, It was better for Port Sunlight who were 32-11 winners at Marple.
In Division Three, there were victories for Oldershaw 35-21 against Buxton and Ellesmere Port 24-12 against Liverpool University but Oxton Parkonians were on the wrong side of a 14-11 outcome at Capenhurst.
There is another full league programme this Saturday. Matches now kick-off at 3pm.