Birkenhead Park 17, Northwich 24

BIRKENHEAD Park had to settle for the runners up shield after Northwich claimed the trophy with a last minute score to take the spoils after an epic final at New Brighton.

Nick Baldwin opened the scoring with a penalty for Northwich after five minutes, but Dave Hall equalised soon after for Park.

The sides looked well-matched, but then Northwich deservedly seized the initiative with two quick tries from Reilly and Dale both converted by Baldwin.

Park were deprived of possession for a long period by the competitive Northwich pack but they rallied and finished the half with a sustained attack on the Northwich line but failed to capitalise.

Park had a mountain to climb in the second half but they raised their game and subjected Northwich to a constant barrage.

Substitutes Peter Doolan, Rob Doolan, Josh Smith, Martin Donnelly and James Millward all added impetus to the Park cause in sweltering conditions at Hartsfield as they completely dominated territory.

The tension of the occasion meant there were plenty of errors on both sides but when Park were awarded a penalty try after Lucas Titherington was high tackled in the process of scoring Park were suddenly back in contention with ten minutes remaining.

Things got even better for Park when Number 8 Alwyn Watkin-Williams was awarded a try after consultation from the touch judge.

The game was tied at 17 all with extra time beckoning but in a cruel ending for Park in the only Northwich foray into the Park 22 of the half stand off Baldwin chipped over the defence and James Underhill gathered the ball to claim the spectacular winning score in injury time.

The final was a baptism of fire for debutant Park colt scrum half Matt Cucchi but he came through with flying colours providing a great service from the base of the scrum.

Park Director of Rugby Martin O’Keefe said "we made too many errors, but I was pleased with the way we came back in the second half to make it a good contest.

"To be fair the Northwich winning try was top quality but we could easily have taken the game to extra time".

The Cheshire Finals day at New Brighton was very well supported with local success from Oldershaw, who were victorious against Ellesmere Port 11-5 and then Crewe & Nantwich defeated Winnington Park before Park and Northwich took centre stage.

On Wednesday the Cheshire Harvesters XV take on the Anti-Asssasins at Birkenhead Park (7.30pm kick off) with a number of Park players involved and on Saturday Park finish the North West 1 league season when they welcome Anselmians to the Upper Park for the re-arranged fixture.

Victory for Park will ensure third place in North West 1.