Birkenhead Park 22, Wilmslow 24

THE top of the table clash did not disappoint as Birkenhead Park and Wilmslow engaged in a tremendous encounter at the Upper Park with there never being more than a score between the sides throughout.

Park were first on the score sheet when Will Titherington kick passed to the wing where Sam Tyrer caught the ball on the full to score in the corner.

Park then lost flanker Sean Mooney to the sin bin and Wilmslow profited when centre Coulthurst broke through to score with McCallum converting.

Park hit back and recaptured the lead when Jack Ashcroft drove over after a series of forward attacks and Dave Hall converted.

Wilmslow soon levelled matters with a try by second row Mellor as the half ended with honours even.

The second half continued in exciting fashion as Park edged ahead with a Hall penalty only for Wilmslow to move back in front when a run down the wing by Hewitt put scrum half Street clear for a great score converted by McCallum.

Park launched a sustained attack with some good driving play by the pack and centre Adam Wellington and Titherington also to the fore.

Eventually flanker Sean Mooney crossed for a deserved try and Hall's conversion gave Park a three-point advantage.

Another strong run down the wing again released Street and he raced away for his second score leaving the visitors two ahead going into the closing stages.

With time running out Park launched another attack and when Wilmslow infringed Titherington kicked to the corner to set up an attacking line out. Park drove for the line but frantic defence kept them at bay.

With the game in its last play Park needed just any score to win and when they were awarded another penalty in a very kickable position it was Park's opportunity to seal the game at the death.

However, in a rush of blood Park took a quick tap and the ball was spilled over the line and the opportunity was lost as the final whistle sounded.

Park director of Rugby, Martin O'Keefe said: "It was a great contest and a cracking game to watch for the spectators.

"The match could have gone either way but in the end we have only ourselves to blame by not taking the three points on offer right at the end."

Park complete the first half of the league programme with a visit to third place Burnage on Saturday with another close match in prospect.