Birkenhead Park 53
BIRKENHEAD Park moved into top gear with an emphatic 53-21 over sixth-placed Rossendale at the Upper Park.
Park scored eight tries and the bonus point victory ensured that they climb another place up the table above West Hartlepool with Kendal currently in last place.
Park built up a 25-16 lead in a competitive first half which opened with a penalty by Rossendale full-back Steve Nutt after three minutes.
Winger Greg Hughes responded with a try in the corner for Birkenhead after good work by the Park three quarters but Nutt was on target with a second penalty for the visitors.
Forward pressure resulted in a try for Danny Collins as Rossendale increased their lead. Dave Hall kicked a penalty for Park and then winger Robbie Houliston finished off another backs move with a try which Hall converted from the touchline. A few minutes later a great run by Houliston put Danny Rich over for another home try but Rossendale hit straight back with their second try by Matt Smith.
There was still time for Park to get their fourth try and claim the bonus point before half time as hooker Stu Brown touched down after a powerful forward drive.
Park took control in the second half and prop Matt Ibbotson scored the fifth try soon after the restart. A kick and chase saw Greg Hughes grab his second try but Rossendale threatened a come back when Sam Greenwood scored after a period of sustained pressure which saw Park reduced to 13 men with two men dispatched to the sin bin.
Rossendale were unable to take further advantage and it was Park scored next when substitute Gavin Scott crossed to make the game safe. Stu Brown rounded things off with his second try and skipper Dave Hall converted all four second half tries to take Park past the half century mark.
Park director of rugby John McNally said: “The league has reached the half-way stage and it was good to end the first round of matches with such a commanding performance. Confidence has returned and the team spirit is excellent.”
McNally also praised the role of Park stalwart Shaun Gallagher, who has been brought in to assist with training. He said: “Shaun has been working the squad hard in the gym and the improved level of fitness is paying dividends. The players are working hard and the effort being made is commendable, Shaun’s sessions are improving us physically but also making us mentally tougher.”
The Park Wanderers have also put their poor start to the season behind them and they had a tremendous 61-15 away victory at Stockport in the Bateman BMW Premiership. The Wanderers came back from a 15-0 deficit to win in style. Former first team flanker Mike Brace marked a welcome return to action after a lengthy period of absence with a try and Tom Walls and Joe Spencer scored two each. Gareth Jones and Lawrence Stansfield also touched down.
This Saturday Park travel to Lymm in National Three North looking for revenge against their Cheshire rivals who inflicted a heavy defeat on Birkenhead in September.