A penalty in the final minutes of time added on denied Firwood Waterloo a win over their closest rivals Birkenhead Park at Blundellsands last Saturday. Encounters between these two clubs are always eagerly anticipated and after a season's absence this game even more so. It was close fought throughout with, at the final whistle, joy and despair shared in equal measure on both sides.
"We are obviously very disappointed to lose in this way especially as we took the try count three to two," declared head coach Stu Turner. "Although we lost two key players in Jack Weir and Nick Dwyer, both off injured, we should have closed the game down at 23-16 but we allowed 'Park' to come back at us and in the end paid the price."
Firwood Waterloo were first to score after some solid pressure by the pack created the opportunity for Josh Rawlinson to go over in the corner.
Birkenhead Park forced a penalty for Dave Hall to make it 5-3 before Peter Doolan up in support of a break by Ollie Mabutt went over for his side's opening try. Hall slotted the conversion to put the visitors 5-10 ahead at the interval.
Early in the second half Dwyer landed a penalty to cut the deficit with a second regaining the lead for the home side only for Hall to reply in kind to put 'Park' in front once again.
Park lost Stuart Brown to a yellow card and taking full advantage a well worked switch move got Jacob Allen over for 16-13 only for Hall to level matters with his third penalty.
Firwood Waterloo came again and with Allen coming inside the winger went in for his second, the conversion restoring the Waterloo advantage at 23-16.
At this stage the home side would have been better to 'shut up shop' but with Birkenhead Park back to full strength, a driving maul got Brown over and although the conversion was missed the penalty from Hall sealed the win for the visitors.
"We played some good rugby but at this level you cannot afford to give penalty opportunities away especially with a kicker of Hall's standard on the field," confessed the head coach. "We need to look at this game very carefully and see where we can and must improve. It is early days but we need to be back on the top of our game this Saturday away to De La Salle, a club we have never met before. They have just been promoted and will certainly be keen to show us what they can do."