Wirral 25 Billingham 14

IN heavy, wet conditions at Clatterbridge on Saturday, Wirral had to work hard to overcome a game Billingham side to continue their unbeaten home record and to maintain their chances of claiming a play-off position in the league.

However, with the teams in third and fourth place both losing, surprisingly, it has increased Wirral's chances of achieving that goal.

The game started with Wirral taking an early 6-0 lead through two penalties from the reliable boot of James Annetts, before Billingham replied with a penalty from Peter Evans.

In the 27th minute, Wirral extended their lead with a well-executed backs move which saw centre, Dan Harvey beat two players before sliding over the whitewash to score, Annetts added the conversion to give Wirral a 13-3 lead.

Wirral Globe:

Wirral scrum against Billingham

Billingham, like Wirral, look to play with ball in hand which, combined with astute grubber kicks to touch, enabled them to have their fair share of territorial advantage and were able to score with two further penalties through Peter Evans, reducing the deficit to 13-9.

Although Wirral were also able to apply pressure they did not do so until the final minute of the half, when a rehearsed backs move released Ali Baker who made ground down the right and when surrounded by would be tacklers was able to touch down in the corner; the try was converted from the touchline by James Annetts to give Wirral a 20-9 lead at half time.

Wirral Globe:

Wirral's Rob Pearl competes at a line-out

Despite being down to 14 men for a short period and the play moving from end to end it was Wirral who were to score next when from a line out some 20m out, the forwards mauled their way to Billingham's line.

When halted, Keith Mahon took the ball and plunged over the line to score, the conversion was missed.

Despite Wirral's comfortable lead of 25-9 and seeking to score the fourth bonus point try, it was the Billingham defence that stood up to the test.

In the final minutes of the game, Billingham were able to put concerted pressure on the Wirral line and were rewarded with a try in the 78th minute when substitute Andy Evans picked the ball out of the Wirral scrum and dived the one metre to score, the conversion was missed.

In the very heavy conditions, this win was hard-earned; given the results elsewhere it turned out to be a significant afternoon for Wirral.

With no match next week, Wirral are next in action away at Ilkley on March 5.