Wirral Lose in Derby Mudbath
Following the recent heavy rain the Park pitch had been under water on Saturday morning but it had drained away before the 3.00pm kick off but looked heavy at the outset given there was little grass on the pitch.
Wirral had a change from the team selected with Chris Hughes
coming off the bench to start in place of STEVE PENDERGAST allowing Ryan Higginson
to come onto the bench. Sam Broadbent
and Keith Mahon
came back into the team. With CRAIG HARVEY not available for this game, Mark Williams
continued at fly half with Ben Brooks
coming in on the wing. The captain for the day was Paul Lewis
(second row) with the subs alongside Ryan being HAYDN LONG and Chris Tyson
Wirral played away from the clubhouse in the first half but the wind was not a factor in this game. In the second minute of the game a double tackle on Chris Hughes
left the prop with an injury to his neck and shoulder, which meant he took no further part in the game and Ryan Higginson
came on in his place- this restricted Wirral in making front row substitutions. In the 4th minute, James Annetts
kicked Wirral into the lead with a penalty from in front of the posts but Park equalised 4 minutes later with a 38m penalty from Dave Hall.
Play was concentrated in the midfield area as both teams kicked downfield for territory rather than try to progress through the thick cloying mud. On 23 minutes a second James Annetts
penalty restored Wirral’s lead. On 32 mins, HAYDN LONG came on for Paul Lewis
at the same time as the Park second row, Josh Smith was sin binned. In the 51st minute of the first half, Park equalised with a Dave Hall penalty, the last play of the first half, 6-6.
At the start of the second half, Chris Tyson
came on for Keith Mahon
with Matt Dowler
moving to No.8. As early as the 43rd minute, Park took the lead when awarded a penalty for a high tackle, Hall obliged. I felt that Wirral were losing too many balls in the tackle, notwithstanding the conditions which were worsening as the rain came down and even the floodlights were put on. Good interplay between the forwards took Park down into the Wirral half where they were awarded a penalty- Wirral were giving far too many away and Park increased their lead to 12-6.
came on for HAYDN LONG on 50 minutes and 4 minutes later, Park had another player in the sin bin, their No 7- Sean Mooney. With 14 men this did not hamper Park as interplay amongst their forwards advanced play into the Wirral 20m area before Stuart Brown passed to right winger, Adam Wellington who just managed to score in the corner despite a couple of Wirral players looking to bundle him into touch, the conversion was missed. 17-6 (60 minutes). Three minutes later, Wirral replied with a converted try, winning a line out some 10m out, the familiar catch and drive paid off as Stuart Gratton
at the back of the forwards was on hand to touch down, followed by a superb touchline conversion from James Annetts
. 17-13. Keith Mahon
came on for Matt Dowler
As players tired, yardage was now being made by both teams but Wirral were being pegged back by giving away too many penalties and even Hall missed a penalty from 24m just right of the posts. From the 20m drop out, Park kept pressure on Wirral and Park then made a decisive break (the first of the game) and an inside pass to Oliver Mabbutt gave him a clear run to the posts and converted by Hall to give Park an unassailable lead at 24-13 with 1 minute left in the game. From the kick off, Wirral regained the ball when Park failed to clear the ball and played the ball amongst the forwards as we know they can and set up a position for DAN HARVEY to run onto the ball and split the Park defence to score under the posts. A quickly taken conversion was missed as Wirral were under the impression that history may repeat itself again as in the game at Clatterbridge with a kick off out to them and the chance of scoring again to win the game but alas the referee called for time after a half which lasted 48 minutes.
Wirral were able to claim a losing bonus point and still remain in 7th but teams below them are catching them up. With players coming back after injury etc Wirral will be looking to arrest this recent run of losses and will be keen to do so at Ilkley next week.