Wirral 27, Billingham 10

WIRRAL continued their unbeaten start to 2019 with an emphatic win over second-placed Billingham, which keeps their faint play-off chances alive.

Playing with the benefit of the wind in the first half it was Wirral who took the game to Billingham with a Matt Loon run halted metres from the line.

The ball was quickly recycled and led to Chris Speed crossing in the corner for the opening try and a great conversion from the touchline by James Annetts, 7-0 after seven minutes.

Billingham had their opportunities with pressure on Wirral but, as in recent weeks, the defence stood firm and most of the play was between the 20ms lines.

On the half-hour mark a long kick downfield by captain, Craig Harvey, saw the ball stop one metre from the line.

A fumble by the Billingham full-back allowed the chasing prop Jack Yarker to pick up and dive over to score in the corner.

Another fine conversion from the touchline by James Annetts gave Wirral a 14-0 lead.

The second-half started with Wirral continuing to dominate and having a presence in the opposition 20m area.

Wirral were pressing forward which resulted in a skirmish and resulted in the Billingham hooker, Jordan Foulds being red carded for punching.

Wirral elected to take the scrum on the 20m line but the pressure came to nought.

A few minutes later the home team elected to take a penalty kick which James Annetts converted to extend the lead to 17-0.

On 48 minutes, Billingham skipper Peter Kirby converted a penalty from 25m.

The rain was now much heavier, which was make the ground conditions more difficult and thus Wirral now resorted to long raking kicks to touch to keep Billingham in their own half and then worked hard to keep Billingham theirs.

In the 61st minute Wirral, with ball in hand, spun this down the line and with Wirral full back, Chris Crowley, in the line crossed in the corner to extend the lead to 22-3.

At this stage, Billingham were being awarded a number of penalties which enabled them to make easy progress downfield and with the resultant possession and pressure on the Wirral line were rewarded with a consolation try from Dan Burns and conversion by Peter Kirby in the 78th minute.

At 22-10, Billingham sensed the possibility of a losing bonus point whilst the Wirral coach feeling that his team had lost the chance of a deserved try bonus point.

In injury time with the home crowd urging Wirral on and Billingham knowing that they had to keep the ball in hand, the away side were pinned in their 20m area.

The ball came loose and was picked up by the Wirral prop, Ryan Higginson who broke through tackles on his 20m run to the line where he crashed over with Billingham players trying to hang on to score that elusive 4th try and the bonus point.

This was the last action of the match with Wirral now consolidating their fifth position, with Billingham now falling to third.