Billingham 22, Wirral 14

WIRRAL were unlucky to come away from their long trip to Billingham without any points, given it is a ground where they have had no success over the past six years that they have been in this league.

Playing against the wind in the first half, play was maintained in the middle of the 4G pitch with both sides testing each other's defences until a penalty to the home side gave them a line out 8m from the Wirral line.

The line-out was won by Wirral against the throw-in, only for the clearance kick to be charged down.

A race to touch-down was awarded to Billingham debutant prop, Clark, who was on the blind side of the referee, the try was converted.

It was Wirral who were making the half breaks but could not capitalise on them.

Billingham had two penalty chances to increase the lead and captain, Peter Evans converted one to give the home side a 10-0 lead at half-time.

Virtually the first play of the second half saw Wirral score having put Billingham under pressure as they sought a way through the tight defence, however a slick pass from James Annetts to Mark Gidman saw the winger run through from 10 metres out to score under the posts and an Annetts conversion brought the score back to 10-7.

On 60 minutes Billingham scored two tries in quick succession; the first a move from their 20m area through a number of hands allowing Liam King to score in the corner.

This was followed by an 80m try from Ben Walton who picked up the ball in a blatant off side position (later acknowledged by the referee) who outpaced the defence to score- 22-7.

With nine minutes to go, Wirral hit back to score their second try through Chris Speed, who cut through the Billingham defence to score and converted by James Annetts, to leave the score 22-14.

For the final minutes of the game Wirral pressed for the minimum of a losing bonus point only to be denied by Billingham as they kept the ball amongst their forwards and were happy to see the match out.

This was an encouraging performance from Wirral against one of the strongest teams in the league.