Birkenhead Park 24 Wirral 18

ON a pitch which had been under water in the morning, the match between these two sides ended up as a battle in the mud with little rugby being played.

In the second minute of play, Wirral lost prop, Chris Hughes to a neck / shoulder injury, which reduced Wirral’s effectiveness when substitutions were made.

With both sides kicking the ball downfield to gain territory it was a first half which was contained between the two 20m areas.

Wirral had taken the lead with a penalty from James Annetts but with each side having effective goal kickers, the half ended six apiece with Dave Hall scoring for Park.

The second half saw Park with the numerical advantage as far as the penalties were concerned and by the 52nd minute, Hall had increased Park's lead to 12-6.

The 60th minute saw the first piece of open rugby as Park quickly recycled the ball and the forwards progressed before Stuart Brown put in Adam Wellington in the corner to increase the Park lead to 17-6.

Four minutes later a Wirral line out some 10m out was rewarded with a classic catch and drive with Stuart Gratton touching down at the back of his pack.

A superb conversion from the touchline by James Annetts reduced Wirral’s deficit, 17-13.

The closing stages of the match saw both teams trying to probe an opening in the mud, when with two minutes remaining, Park fly half, Tytherington made a decisive break, the first of the game, before off-loading to Ollie Mabbutt who scored unopposed under the posts to give Park an unassailable lead.

However, the home side fearing a Wirral comeback as happened in the match at Clatterbridge earlier in the season showed as they were desperate to clear the ball from their own 22, but failed to do so and with Wirral now playing their best rugby of the game set up a position for Dan Harvey to slice through the Park defence to score under the posts.

The conversion was hurried and missed as Wirral thought that there was further play but the referee called for time immediately.

Honours go to Park in this battle in the mud as they strive to avoid relegation and Wirral are hoping some of their injured players will be back for the games ahead.