Carlisle 47, Birkenhead Park 13

LEAGUE leaders Carlisle took a big step to securing the North 1 West title with a comprehensive victory over visiting Birkenhead Park.

The Cumbrians took an early lead when full back Max Connon exploited weak defence to cross for the first try which he also converted.

Dave Hall responded immediately with a penalty but Carlisle went over again from the restart with number eight Matt Shields touching down with Connon again converting.

Park did enjoy plenty of possession but were under pressure in the scrum and Connon grabbed his second try after 15 minutes which he also converted.

Park attacked from the kick off and number eight Alwyn Watkin-Williams scored following a smart line out catch and drive.

The remainder of the half was a close fought affair before Shields broke through for his second score, Connon's conversion gave the hosts a substantial 28-8 lead at half-time.

Park put up spirited resistance after the break with second row John Barrowcliffe prominent upfront and scrum half Sam Chidley also to the fore.

Substitute prop Gareth Jones came off the bench and helped steady the Park scrum and it was not until the 56th minute that Carlisle scored again when Phil Coulthard went clear and then flanker Angus Fulton crossed again shortly afterwards.

Carlisle's final try came from second row James Brocket and Connon’s conversion gave the full back a personal haul of 22 points.

Birkenhead, at least, finished on a high note when flanker Martin Donnelly went over as Park attacked from the restart.

Director of Rugby Martin O'Keefe said "it was a disappointing performance overall although we were competitive at times but suffered from poor tackling and wrong options."

Park will look to improve for the derby against Anselmians at the Upper Park on Saturday (3pm).

It is the annual Park players reunion with a large crowd expected.