New Brighton 25, Birkenhead Park 39

THE new rugby union season got underway at Hartsfield on Friday evening when Birkenhead Park commenced their defence of the Cheshire Vase against neighbours and oldest rivals New Brighton.

An excellent crowd gathered to witness a spirited encounter which was a great advert for Friday night rugby on Wirral.

Park started strongly and new player coach Simon Mason opened the scoring with the first try after the home defence had been stretched with a series of attacks.

The Park forwards began to dominate and two tries by hooker Stuart Brown increased Park's lead to 15-0.

New Brighton competed well but the Park defence was solid before two Joe Silcock penalties made it 15-6 at half time.

Soon after the break New Brighton closed the gap to just two points with a well worked try by winger Jack Charlesworth.

Park responded immediately when a powerful run by Adam Wellington finished off a lively backs move with Mason converting.

Park moved further ahead when Brown completed his hat trick with Mason again converting and then adding a penalty to put them firmly in control at 32-13.

New Brighton showed their mettle to hit back through a Brett Williams try but Park flanker Lol Thomas put the game out of reach as he broke through for a sixth try which Mason also improved.

However, New Brighton where not finished and Phil Buckley scored the final try of the evening with Silcock converting.

Park's director of rugby Martin O'Keefe said: "Overall I was pleased with the performance but at this stage of the season there is plenty of scope for improvement.

"It is important we get our league season off to a winning start next week." 

Park open their North 1 West campaign against Altrincham Kersal on Saturday, kick off is 3pm at the Upper Park.