BIRKENHEAD PARK pulled off a tremendous victory in Newcastle against fourth placed Percy Park with a spirited display which saw them outscore their hosts by three tries to none.
The front row laid the foundation with props Matt Ibbotson and Martin O’Keefe in outstanding form.
Hooker Stu Brown was the hero as he scored all three Birkenhead tries.
Park knew they would have to take the game to Percy Park and they had the best possible start when a driving maul paved the way for Brown’s first try.
Percy Park found the Birkenhead defence a tough nut to crack but two penalties by Ashley Smith put the home side ahead.
Brown’s second try came after a well executed line out move saw flanker Rob Doolan peel around the front before drawing the defence and putting the hooker over to give Birkenhead a 10-6 lead at half time.
Birkenhead continued to frustrate the home attack in the second half but a third Smith penalty cut Park’s lead to a single point. Brown completed his hat-trick on 72 minutes after a long range Birkenhead attack took play deep into the Percy Park 22 before the rampant hooker charged over. Percy Park now needed a converted try to steal the match but a determined Park side held out for a thoroughly deserved victory.
Director of Rugby John McNally said: “This was an excellent result for us and a very good team effort. This is exactly the type of performance we needed and the spirit we showed was admirable. To prevent Percy Park from scoring a try on their own turf was impressive.”
Apart from the front row Dave Ibbotson and Rob Doolan also impressed in a hard working pack with the backs also competing well against a lively Percy Park unit.
Park have now closed the gap on Bradford & Bingley to seven points but will need to gain a second successive away victory at Kendal this week. Bradford are likely to account for basement side West Hartlepool at home so Park cannot afford anything less than victory at Mint Bridge to keep the Bees in their sights.