Birkenhead Park 12, Preston Grasshoppers 32

UNBEATEN North Premier League leaders Preston Grasshoppers were given a stern test by a competitive Birkenhead Park side until the visitors took charge in the final quarter at the Upper Park on Saturday.

Park showed their intentions from the off as they camped on the Hoppers line but were unable to get the crucial early score.

Park defended superbly and had their fair share of attacks until the deadlock was broken when the Birkenhead forwards drove magnificently from 25-metres for a try by hooker Stuart Brown.

Park went into half time 5-0 up after an impressive first half display.

Hoppers began the second half in ominous fashion when flanker Sam Gale crossed to level the scores.

Park rallied and Dave Hall followed up a speculative kick ahead to get the second home try which he also converted.

Preston were clearly rattled by a tenacious Park side but on 50 minutes they reduced the home lead to two points when winger Tyler Spence scored in the corner.

It was not until the hour mark that Hoppers eventually got in front when Matt Frings scored their third try.

Park continue to compete well with Sam Chidley and Ollie Mabbot to the fore and fly half Will Titherington showed some neat touches to keep Park in contention.

Disaster struck for Park when an attack broke down deep in the Preston 22 and winger Spence raced clear for a breakaway try which altered the complexion of the match with ten minutes remaining.

Preston increased the tempo and made the game safe with a double strike from number eight Matt Lamprey, the second another spectacular long range effort.

There was a welcome return for centre Danny Rich who took the Man of the Match award.

Director of rugby, Martin O'Keefe said: "We showed we could compete with the best side in the league for most of the match and we can be positive going into next week's match at Harrogate.

"If we are to close the gap and move out of the relegation zone we need to start picking up points as a matter of urgency."