3:40pm Tuesday 18th March 2014
By Andrew Stratton
A LOSING bonus point was scant reward for Hoylake after a magnificent whole hearted display in the local derby against runaway South Lancashire/Cheshire One leaders New Brighton.
It finished 18-12 to the Blues at Hartsfield as they completed a double and they are now one victory away from clinching the title and promotion to North One West.
But the nerves were tingling amongst the die hard Brighton supporters as Hoylake who had lost the first meeting 8-33 threatened one of the upsets of the season.
In the end it was not to be but surely Hoylake will escape the drop more especially if they can reproduce this sort of spirit and determination in the closing stages of the campaign.
Hoylake had wind advantage for the opening period but a 7-5 advantage left them facing an uphill task for the second forty minutes.
But rather than being pinned in their own territory they spent much time in the Blues half and stretched to 12-5 ahead in the 53rd minute.
Brighton were quick to respond before two scores in the last ten minutes clinched their victory.
Mike Kearney converted his own interception try for Hoylake but the Blues gained an unconverted corner touch down via Tom Brie just ahead of the break.
Skipper Matt O’Neill was carried over for the second Hoylake try before Joe Silcock for Brighton crossed after a strong move from a tap penalty approaching the hour mark.
The home forwards drove over in the 72nd minute with Kati Tuipulotu the last man up and then a Stephen Dean penalty made it 18-12.
Hoylake, currently fourth bottom, tried desperately to redress the balance before time ran out on them.
Anselmians saw off Ruskin Park 40-31 in an entertaining affair and lie third in the division six points adrift of second placed Northwich.
It was another testing afternoon for Wallasey in Division Two as they crashed 6-104 away to Manchester Medics.
It has been a difficult season for them but they are due much credit for fulfilling their fixtures and deserve better times.
Ellesmere Port beat Knutsford 19-12 and are top of Division Three.
Prenton failed 5-18 at Buxton but Oldershaw came away 19-12 to the good from Capenhurst.
Birkenhead Park comfortably saw off Widnes in North One West to close within a point of Wirral at the top.
Against the strong wind Park scored first-half tries via Billy Wooff and Sean Wooff plus a penalty and a conversion by Dave Hall.
Tom Spencer got in for Widnes with Kevin Leadbetter adding the goal.
The Upper Park side took control in the third quarter with two drive over touch downs from Stu Brown and another via Lawrence Cowan after a line-out. Hall targeted another penalty and two conversions.
Park rang the changes later and took their foot off the gas as Widnes made the scoreline more respectable with touch downs from Leadbetter and Paul Borg plus two goals by Dave Welsh.
Caldy were due to meet Wirral in the Cheshire Cup final but Wirral conceded the tie due according to the Caldy website to "unforeseen circumstances" but obviously with this Saturday's vital home top of the table clash with Birkenhead Park in mind.
The twice postponed New Brighton v Crewe and Nantwich Vase semi-final will now not be played.
The East Cheshire side has withdrawn because of midweek travelling and availability difficulties.
The county cup competitions are fast becoming farcical and something needs to be done about it by the County Committee or the RFU sooner rather than later.
New Brighton incidentally will play Altrincham Kersal in the Vase final on Easter Saturday at a venue to be decided.
Kersal are currently bottom of North One West with just three victories to date.
Caldy take the road to Birmingham Solihull on Saturday and Anselmians are due in the Isle of Man to meet Douglas.
There are home clashes for Hoylake v West Park and New Brighton v Wigan.
Lower down the scale fixtures include Port Sunlight at Dukinfield, Wallasey at Ormskirk, Prenton at Capenhurst, Oldershaw v Congleton and an Ellesmere Port v Oxton Parkonians derby.
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