Crewe & Nantwich 27, Birkenhead Park 29

BIRKENHEAD Park booked a place in the final of the Cheshire Vase but Crewe & Nantwich proved more than worthy opponents in a repeat of last year's final which Park won comfortably.

Park were forced into changes with James Millward taking the loose head role and there was a debut for Army player Tom Yaxley in the second row.

Dave Morgan and Tom Dempsey combined at half back and Ollie Mabbott was welcomed back to the starting line up at Number eight following his 100th appearance the previous week off the bench.

Crewe started the game in powerful fashion as they tore into the visitor's defence and ran up a twenty point lead in the first quarter.

Jim Creighton opened the scoring with a third minute penalty then two tries from prop forward Ian Merrill one of which Creighton converted and one from hooker Eli Woodward put Crewe totally in command.

Things got worse for Park as skipper Jack Ashcroft went off injured but thereafter Park got their act together as they clawed their way back initially with a well-executed try from Sam Tyrer following a kick through by Tom Dempsey converted by Dave Hall.

Park put themselves back in contention with a Stu Brown try from a five-metre line out in first-half injury time.

Park's improvement continued in the second half and a James Millward try from a driving maul converted by Hall put them just a single point behind.

The momentum was now clearly with Birkenhead as scrum half Dave Morgan and back row men Ollie Mabbot and Sean Mooney led the way.

Park took the lead for the first time in the 68th minute when quick hands by the three quarters put Adam Wellington through for the try.

Further excellent passing then saw full back Dave Hall cross for a fifth try to put Park two scores clear.

Crewe kept fighting to the end and substitute Josh Collins scored the last try of the match two minutes before full time converted by Toby Russell-Vick.

Park's director of Rugby Martin O'Keefe said: "we did well to come back from twenty points down and we now have a cup final to look forward to before the end of the season". 

Park will meet the winners of the Wilmslow versus Northwich clash in what will be a hotly contested final.

This week Park revert to league action and the quest for a play off position when they welcome Burnage to the Upper Park, kick off 3pm.