Stockport 34, Birkenhead Park 24

BIRKENHEAD Park's promotion prospects suffered a blow at Stockport on Saturday.

In addition to Park's defeat, promotion rivals Blackburn won away at leaders Carlisle which means Park are now eleven points behind with just five games remaining.

Park started well and Dave Hall fired them into an early lead with a long range penalty.

However, generally, Park made too many errors and the home side took the lead with a try by flanker Dan Brotherton with Tim Eaton converting.

Stockport never relinquished the lead thereafter although it was by no means all one way traffic.

Scrum half Rory Austin was next to score for Stockport as he broke wide out but Park hit back immediately with a Stu Brown try converted by Hall which saw the visitors just two points adrift.

The last play of the half saw Stockport intercept with the supporting Brotherton grabbing his second try of the afternoon.

The second half started with Eaton further extending the home lead with a penalty but good play following a line out saw Lucas Titherington cross for Park's second try again converted by Hall to close the gap to just three points.

Generally Stockport made better use of the slope and the elements than Park had done in the first half and outstanding flanker Richard Sackbille-West scored after 52 minutes with Eaton improving for a ten-point lead.

Things got worse for Park when full back Rhodri Mayor finished off a fine attack to put the game beyond Park’s reach on the hour mark.

Park did maintain their spirit and fought hard to the end with Jack Ashcroft having a try disallowed and then the referee ruled against a penalty try decision before eventually prop Peter Doolan crossed after a close range scrum with Hall adding the extras.

Park went close again to claiming a fourth try which would have resulted in two bonus points but in the end Park were sent packing without anything to show for their efforts.

Substitutes Liam Sharples, John Barraclough and Dave Morgan all made good contributions, as did prop Peter Doolan in a losing cause.

This Saturday Park will seek to avenge an earlier defeat when old rivals Broughton Park are welcomed to the Upper Park, kick off 3pm.

Victory is essential if Park are to take advantage of any slip up from second-placed Blackburn.