Sheffield Tigers............9

ON a day when few matches were played in the North of England, Wirral were able to maintain their pitch in a playable condition for this second v first clash at the Memorial Ground.

It will be recalled that earlier in the season, Wirral lost in the closing minutes at the Sheffield Tigers ground.

From the kick off, Tigers charged down a clearance kick and immediately they were on the offensive, which was to be a feature of the game.

Gradually, through their forwards, Wirral worked their way downfield and held the away team in their 22m area.

From here came the only try of the game in the 12th minute, when Rob Pearl picked up from the base of the scrum and drove deep into the Sheffield defence, drawing the full back to put centre, Dan Harvey in for a try under the posts, brother Craig converted.

The rest of the half saw Sheffield Tigers with the monopoly of possession and territory as they forced Wirral to defend for long periods.

For their part they were rewarded with two penalties from Mark Ireland, to reduce the arrears to 7-6 at half time.

The second half started with some enterprising play from Wirral but they could not find a weakness in an equally determined Tiger’s defence.

Gradually, Tigers built up the pressure on Wirral but the home side's tackling kept out the wave upon wave of thrusts made by the away side forwards.

Having missed a kickable penalty, Sheffield took the lead in the 63rd minute with a Mark Ireland penalty from in front of the posts, as James Annetts was sin binned for a technical offence.

With the lead, Tigers continued to play for territory and keep Wirral pinned back in their own half but missed another kickable penalty.

As the minutes passed Wirral began to mount one final challenge as possession levels improved and the penalty count swung in their favour.

A penalty was awarded to the home side 40m out and just to the left of the posts.

James Annetts stroke the ball between the posts, just clearing the cross bar to give Wirral a one point lead, 10-9.

The game was not over as Tigers came roaring back and in the fourth minute of additional time a penalty to Wirral was awarded and duly kicked into touch, the game ended.

Wirral retained their unbeaten home record and reduced the lead held by Tigers to 13 points with a game in hand.

Praise must go to the awesome defensive display of the Wirral team against the best attacking side in the league and to be the first to prevent them from scoring a try.

Also, huge credit to ground staff for the preparation of the pitch.