Wirral 42 Rossendale 14

THE final home game of the season in front of a large crowd saw Wirral complete the double over league runners-up Rossendale in a feisty game.

Rossendale, fielding the team that is to play in next week's promotion play-off game, took an early lead when Fraser Lindsay cut through from 15m to score under the posts, Steve Nutt converted.

At this stage there were numerous penalties with Wirral trying to contain the bullying tactics of the away team.

Although playing against the wind, it was Wirral who enjoyed territorial advantage and drew level when Craig Harvey's half-break set up a try by Rob Pearl giving James Annetts an easy conversion.

Wirral were reduced to 14 players for 10 mins when Craig Harvey was sinbinned.

In the minutes leading up to half time a succession of penalties in Wirral's favour, saw a quickly taken penalty and Tom Parry ran unopposed to score under the posts to give Wirral a 14-7 lead at half time.

With the wind behind them Wirral looked to pin Rossendale deep in their own half and put pressure on the Rossendale line.

Wirral number eight, Keith Mahon forced his way over the whitewash and another conversion gave Wirral breathing space at 21-7.

There then followed a period of sustained play in the middle of the park, with high tackles going in aplenty.

This led to the Rossendale number eight seeking retribution which led to a straight red and thus out of next week's game; Craig Harvey received a second yellow and thus left the field.

Wirral almost scored when a break by Rob Pearl ended with him being tackled a metre from the line.

Rossendale responded and drove play back to the Wirral line where James Annetts was yellow carded. 

Pressure told as Rossendale winger, George Peel squeezed in at the corner and well converted by Steve Nutt from the touchline against the wind.

The final 10 minutes was all Wirral as the forwards worked away at Rossendale's line.

Keith Mahon managed to work his way over the line for his second try which Mark Williams converted.

With plenty of possession the Wirral backs were making good ground against Rossendale and this produced the fifth and most fitting try of the afternoon, when Matt Loon made a break and passed inside to Ali Baker, who was making his last appearance for the club before leaving to work abroad.

Baker sprinted the 20metres to score in front of the club house and the large crowd standing there.

Two minutes later he left the field to a standing ovation in recognition of the 16 years he has played first team rugby.

There was still time for young centre, Mark Williams to cut through the away defence and score under the posts. James Annetts hit his fifth conversion to secure a Wirral win, 42-14.

Wirral finish fourth in the league.

On reflection, the mid-season injuries to the small squad took its toll when Wirral lost some home games which they should have won.