Birkenhead Park 11
Waterloo13by PETER GREVILLE
BIRKENHEAD PARK suffered a setback in their battle to avoid relegation from National 3 North as Waterloo completed the double in the Merseyside derby at the Upper Park.
It was a hard fought encounter with the result in doubt right up to the final whistle.
Park had to make changes in the back division with skipper Dave Hall and Greg Hughes both ruled out through injury. Joe Spencer and Dave Morgan were on the wing with Biff Handley coming out of retirement to take Hall’s place at full back. Liam Reeve slotted two penalties to give Waterloo an early lead but Danny Rich responded with a brace of penalties for Park to level matters after 15 minutes.
Danny Rich was prominent in the midfield but Park were unable to finish off a number of promising moves as the score remained locked at 6-6.
Park eventually cracked the Waterloo defence with a powerful driving maul try on the stroke of half time with hooker Stuart Brown getting the touch down. The missed conversion in the end proved to be costly.
The second half saw a determined effort from Waterloo as they controlled play for much of the half.
Reeve was off target with a couple of relatively easy shots at goal but it was not until the 70th minute that the Park defence was eventually breached when centre Jack Wear was put clear to score in the corner to level the match at 11-11. Reeve put his earlier misses behind him and produced an excellent kick from the touch line to put Waterloo two points ahead.
Waterloo looked set to hold on to their lead but Park eventually broke out of their half and the Ibbotson brothers led the charge for victory. The Park forwards drove deep into the Waterloo 22 in a frantic bid to win the game but time ran out with Park camped on the Waterloo line.
On reflection Park should have gone for a drop goal attempt which would have snatched the game by a single point but the dramatic finale left a joyous Waterloo to take the spoils and leave Park facing a mountain to climb.
Team Manager George Pollock said: “This was not the start we were hoping for to the new year and we face a difficult task to survive. We did not match the level of performance we have shown in our previous two games and credit to Waterloo for keeping us pinned in our own half for most of the second half. “
Park have another home local derby this Saturday when Chester are the visitors. The league leaders twice failed to honour the Cheshire Cup semi final in December and they suffered a surprise home defeat to Lymm last week who Park had defeated comfortably in the previous round of matches.
Chester will be keen to return to winning ways and Park will have to improve significantly on their effort against Waterloo if they are to have a chance of inflicting a second successive defeat on them.