Birkenhead Park 31, Stockport 28

THE west against east Cheshire North West 1 clash saw Birkenhead Park and Stockport lay on a thrilling contest at the Upper Park with the result in the balance throughout.

It was a high-tempo affair with some great rugby punctuated with frequent errors which only added to the tension of the occasion.

Park had a dream start when winger Dave Morgan went over after good work by the Titherington brothers.

Morgan made good ground down the left before looping round to finish off the move on the opposite wing.

Will Titherington took over the kicking duties in the absence of Dave Hall and he slotted the difficult conversion.

The Park backs were looking extremely dangerous as they moved the ball at pace but Stockport hit back when lock Dean Schofield powered over with Liam McGovern adding the extras to level matters.

Park did well to contain some strong driving play by the big visiting forwards but they conceded penalties and McGovern converted two to open a six-point lead.

Park weathered the storm and then went on the attack with flanker Martin Donnelly driving through for the second home try.

Then a great break by full-back Hem Johal from his own half paved the way for winger Elliot Madgin to race over for a third.

Will Titherington converted both to put Park 21-13 up at half-time.

Neither side achieved dominance in the second half but a long range solo effort by Stockport flanker Dan Brotherton converted by McGovern left Park with just a fragile one point advantage.

The next score was crucial and the Park scrum which had been under pressure produced a great drive with number eight Ollie Mabbott breaking from the base to gain the bonus point try with Will Titherington again converting.

Both sides controversially had tries disallowed but the match built to a nail biting finale as McGovern narrowed the gap to five points with his third penalty.

When Park lost Madgin through injury and Doolan to the sin bin the pendulum looked to be swinging to the visitors with ten minutes to go.

However despite being a man down Park continued to press and the veteran Simon Mason, on for Madgin, struck a drop goal which crept over the bar to restore the eight-point advantage.

The last play of the game saw Stockport replacement Callum Hibbs gain the final try but Mason’s timely intervention had ensured Park were out of reach.

The win moved Park back up the table to third place and Director of Rugby Martin O'Keefe said: "it was an important win but there are bound to be plenty of twists and turns ahead with no team able to take anyone for granted".

There is a break in the league programme this weekend with Park next in action at Broughton Park the following Saturday.