Firwood Waterloo kept up their winning run with a solid 38 – 22 win at home to Birkenhead Park in a highly competitive and eventful match.
‘Loo sought a sixth consecutive win to maintain their perfect home record for the season so far.
Park chose to play with the very strong wind in the first period which they used to great effect. Kicking deep into their opponent’s half, they tested the home side’s defence for sustained periods. With ‘Loo down to 14 men after an infringement, Park took advantage through their powerful scrum to score their first try of the afternoon.
The visitors continued to press as their hosts struggled to get out of their own half. When they managed to move play into Park’s half they elected to kick a penalty, but in the strong wind the ball hit the post.
This energised the boys in myrtle and a fine 20m break by captain Jack Weare took play deep into Park’s 22. As the ball was fed along the line, Dom Coe crossed the line for a try.
Back came Park, but the magnificent Kurt Riley took play outside the 22 for Daragh O’Brien to sprint up the field and relieve the pressure temporarily. The Wirral boys returned to add a second try for a half time lead of 5 – 12, although at that time they were down to 14 men.
After the game Laurence Jenkins admitted that “We got a right talking to at half time from the coach and the captain, although to be fair we knew ourselves that we had not coped as well as Park with the conditions.”
A revitalised Firwood Waterloo started the second period in a spirited manner – at a tempo that they normally start matches. The scores were levelled after Chris Cunningham scored a try and O’Brien added the conversion. A scintillating run from the Irishman enabled him to add a further try under the posts making his conversion easier.
When Park were reduced to 13 after a second infringement it was ‘Loo who took advantage with Dom Gosling sealing the bonus point try.
Park were not done and showed true character to add their third try. But back came ’Loo with Gabe Davies making it try number 5. The large home crowd enjoyed the good rugby from both sides.
In such a close and highly competitive match, the simmering undercurrent in the game boiled over into a number of altercations. But matters focused quickly back to on-pitch matters as Firwood Waterloo kept their discipline for Josh Jenkins to add the final try.
To their credit Park pushed hard and secured their deserved bonus try point, but the home side saw out in the game in their opponent’s half.
Coach Stuart Turner positively purred after the match but accepts he has a dilemma in team selection. “I have to keep faith with the players who continue to perform at such a high level, but also need to be mindful of the number of players who turn up to training and compete for places. I am delighted with the collective mind set of the whole squad who work hard in training and replicate this on the pitch.”
The boys from Blundellsands face a real test next week as they travel to league leaders Burnage who lead Firwood Waterloo now in second by six points. Burnage will be keen to maintain their good run of form and avenge their ten point defeat at The Memorial Ground last October.
Lock Laurence Jenkins added the final word about next week “The key difference with this team is our resilience to wrest back control of a game.” They will be sorely tested next week.