Birkenhead Park 26 ... Northwich 24

BIRKENHEAD Park made it a straight ten out of ten victories in North 1 West but it was a close run thing as Park survived a Northwich second half fight back.

Park enjoyed a tremendous first half as they threatened to run away with proceedings building up a 26-9 lead at half time.

Early home pressure was rewarded after ten minutes when a Paul Hellier pass put returning winger Adam 'Beef' Wellington over in the corner.

Stand-off Nick Baldwin responded with a penalty for the visitors but mid way through the half the irrepressible Dave Ibbotson finished off a 30-metre driving maul for Park's second try improved by Simon Mason.

Not for the first time Park incurred the wrath of the referee as Baldwin kept Northwich on Park's tails with two further penalties.

Wirral Globe:

Birkenhead Park in action in their close game against Northwich

A determined Park moved up a gear as Northwich struggled to contain the rampant home forwards led by Matt Ibbotson, Hellier and Dave Ibbotson.

Backs and forwards combined to good effect as Dave Ibbotson crossed for his second try.

Park sealed the bonus point before half time as hooker Peter Doolan forced his way over with Mason chipping in with the two conversions.

Park were good value for their 26-9 lead but the second half became a different story as third placed Northwich began to play to their full potential.

Good work by Northwich skipper Sam Naylor put prop Phillips through for their first try converted by Baldwin.

A combination of good Northwich defence, poor decision making and bad luck kept Park scoreless in the half but Park enjoyed plenty of territory and possession.

Mason was sent to the sin bin on the hour mark for a high tackle and Baldwin closed the gap to just seven points with the resulting penalty from long range.

Adam Wellington forced his way over the try line for Park but was held up and he then was forced into touch inches short as Park were unable to capitalise on sustained pressure.

Northwich then caused further anxiety for the home supporters when substitute Farley broke clear for a second try.

The previously impeccable Baldwin could have levelled the scores but he pulled the conversion wide.

Park offended again and this time Baldwin's penalty would have won the match for Northwich but he again missed the relatively easy kick leaving a relieved home side to take the spoils.

Diretor of Rugby Martin O’Keefe said: "we looked to be too strong for Northwich in the first half but in the end it was too close for comfort.

"We scored four tries to two and on balance think we deserved to win." 

Park second row Paul Hellier was named Man of the Match.

This Saturday Park face the long journey to West Cumbris to take on league newcomers St Benedict's in the first ever fixture between the sides.