Douglas 27, Birkenhead Park 5

IT proved to be a fruitless visit to the Isle of Man for Birkenhead Park as they returned pointless with the home side maintaining their 100% home record.

The first half was fiercely contested with neither side being able to break down the resolute defence on show.

The two-evenly matched teams went at each other with considerable determination as the half ended 0-0.

Douglas eventually broke the deadlock in the second half with winger Adam Boyd beating the Park defence for the first time to touch down.

Park responded well, but were penalised as they went for a pushover and Douglas broke out with replacement centre Connor Stephens finishing off the long range move.

This clearly knocked Park while the home team grew in confidence and they claimed a third try when Boyd grabbed his second try.

Park did hit back when skipper Jack Ashcroft went over in the corner after some smart midfield handling to give the visitors hope but any prospect of gaining at least a bonus point were thwarted with further Douglas score from centre Aidan O'Shea and Stephens again.

Clearly, the Manxmen deserved the spoils but Park's director of rugby, Martin O'Keefe, said: "It was a great battle up to half time but unfortunately we lost direction somewhat after conceding tries after half-time.

"Douglas are clearly a very well-drilled outfit with no obvious weaknesses.

"I thought our new centre partnership of Matt Walls and Hem Johal was outstanding particularly in defence and we are not too downhearted."

Lock Paul Hellier was the pick of the pack in a losing cause for Park.

This Saturday Park welcome Stockport to the Upper Park for another important encounter with both sides level on points and needing victory to keep in touch with the top of the table.

The occasion will be marked by the attendance of the new Cheshire President Richard Haslehurst who is a stalwart of both clubs.

Haslehurst was an outstanding flanker for Park and Cheshire and was one of three Park players in the North West Counties squad that beat the All Blacks at Workington in 1972.