Wirral 24, Sheffield 25

WIRRAL'S ten-match run of wins came to an end at Clatterbridge when third-placed Sheffield won the game with a penalty with less than two minutes remaining to keep their play-off chances alive.

It all started well for Wirral with captain Craig Harvey cutting through the Sheffield defence in the first minute to score under the posts. James Annetts converted.

A series of penalties took Sheffield to the Wirral five-metre line where pressure told when Sheffield centre Rob Conville crossed from close in, but the conversion was missed.

Within a minute, the away side took the lead when an interception by winger Owen Smith enabled him to run 70m unopposed to score under the posts.

The try was converted by Joe Cribley to give Sheffield a 12-7 lead after nine minutes.

Sheffield's lead was increased on 30 minutes when a backs move and a long pass to winger Rupert Broadley enabled him to beat two defenders on his way to scoring in the corner. The try was not converted.

Having established a lead, Sheffield were looking to kick the ball downfield and play in Wirral's half.

One of these kicks was caught by Joe Murray, who set off on a run before off-loading to Paul Lewis, then to Rob Pearl, who raced in from 30m to score under the posts, converted by Annetts.

The Sheffield full-back had made a number of penetrating runs in the quarter, one such run resulting in him setting up a try for team-mate Andy Hodgson to score near the posts.

The conversion was missed, but left Sheffield with a try bonus-point and a half-time lead 22-14.

It was imperative that Wirral scored next, but the second half started with defences on top with few scoring opportunities created.

A long kick downfield on 60 minutes saw the Sheffield full-back fumble close to on his own line, giving Wirral a 5m scrum.

After a number of thrusts at the whitewash, Pearl crashed over near the posts, again converted by Annetts for 22-21 to Sheffield.

On 66 minutes, Wirral took the lead when Annetts expertly slotted a penalty from the half way line, 24-22.

Wirral were now looking to see out the game, keep Sheffield under pressure and were awarded a kickable penalty 22m out after foul play – specifically punching – by the Sheffield prop.

However a Wirral player retaliated and the penalty was reversed allowing the away side to clear downfield.

In time added-on, Sheffield were awarded a penalty and Joe Cribley stepped up to secure a one-point lead.

In the last minute of the game, Wirral looked to engineer a drop goal attempt, but time was against them and the referee blew.

This win keeps Sheffield in the race for second place, although Wirral still have an eight-point lead, but face four away fixtures in the remaining five games.