Broughton Park 1st XV vs Birkenhead Park 1st XV
After recording their best result in the league beating 2nd placed Douglas at Hough End a fortnight ago, last Saturday saw Park crash out of the Lancashire Cup semi-finals against Rochdale. Going into the game nothing short of a third cup final would have been deemed acceptable. As expected Rochdale started the game strongly relying on a forward orientated game and their early pressure was rewarded with a penalty, resulting in three points. However, as the half wore on Park’s quality began to tell with the away side scoring three well taken tries to make the score 19-3. Rochdale began to fade and their problems worsened as before the break their number 7 was sent off for striking.
Park proved to be the architects of their own downfall, failing to respond to Rochdale’s increase in intensity following the break. Rochdale dominated the breakdown and were winning almost every collision as Park proved to be too passive in defensive and struggled to retain possession. This saw Rochdale chip away at Park’s lead until a try in the 73rd minute saw them take a 21-19 lead. Park finally rallied and from the kick off won a line out close the Rochdale’s try line. However, as hard as the forwards tried they couldn’t get the ball over the line and as was the case that half eventually gave up possession. Rochdale looked after the ball as they wound down the clock to take an improbably victory.
Safe to say a response will be expected from Park this week as Birkenhead Park are the visitors to Hough End on Saturday. Part of a leading pack of four teams, Birkenhead come into the game on the back of mixed results having won their last two matches at home, but losing their previous two on the road. Last time out they beat current 2nd places side Stockport, the only team to come away from Hough End with a result this season, at Upper Park in a tight contest 31-28 thanks to a late drop goal from veteran Irish international Simon Mason.
The weekend’s game will be the first meeting between the clubs in over three years, following Birkenhead Park’s championship win at the end of the 2014/15 season. Since then they have fluctuated between North One West and Northern Premier during Park’s exile in South Lancs and Cheshire One. The meetings between Park and Birkenhead in that 2014/15 season both ended in victory to the soon to be champions, with Birkenhead winning 43-15 at Upper Park before completing the double 7-37 at Hough End. Both teams will be out with distinct aims on Saturday, Birkenhead to keep pace at the top in order to maximise their chance of an immediate return to Northern Premier and Park to rectify last week’s performance and claim the scalp of another top side at Hough End.
Birkenhead Park 2nd XV vs Broughton Park 2nd XV
Park’s 2nd XV are back in action after a week off, with the last match seeing them travel to 2nd placed side Sandbach. Their previous two games prior had seen the side claim two excellent away wins, crushing Altrincham Kersal 22-69 and claiming a 35-36 win at Penrith after travelling with a depleted squad. Confidence of an upset was high going into the Sandbach game, but the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the side reappeared. Though the cliché the score didn’t reflect the match is could be applied here, the bottom line is Park were handed a lesson in game management and execution by Sandbach, who ran out 55-0 winners. A bitterly disappointing result for Park, especially as the score was skewed by a poor final 20 minutes as Park heads dropped.
Things will be no easier this week as Park travel to the Wirral as they also face Birkenhead Park this week, who are the current league leaders. After narrowly missing out on promotion last season, Park have been in near perfect form this season, their only blemish being a draw against Glossop away. They also have the distinction of being the only side to have beaten an equally dominant Sandbach, which sees them lead the south Cheshire side by a single point. Despite being buoyed by the return of several senior players, including captain Marcus Eaton, Park know they will have to be at their very best come 2:15pm.
Broughton Park Ladies vs Leigh Ladies
After a couple narrow defeats on the league and cup fronts the Ladies returned to action after a week off, welcoming Kendall Wasps to Hough End last Sunday. In an entertaining game where both teams looked to play expansive rugby and get the ball wide as much as possible, in spite of the conditions this time of year, Park ran out 34-17 winners. This result sees the Ladies close to within 3 points of Kendall in 5th place, with 5th to 2nd only separated by a single point.
The Ladies will be playing at Hough End again this Sunday as they reacquaint themselves with Leigh Ladies, who they beat to the NC 2 title last season. While Park have fared better making the step up to NC 1, the spoils in last season’s games were shared with each side winning their home match.
Broughton Park Senior Colts vs Bury Senior Colts
It was another frustrating Sunday afternoon for Park’s Colts last Sunday against Ormskirk at Hough End. After seemingly turning the corner last month, old habits of gifting opponents too many points seem to have returned. After an even opening twenty minutes, a couple of scores for the away side following mistakes from Park saw heads drop. This allowed Ormskirk to pull away and put the match beyond doubt early in the second half. The belief that was built over October needs to be rediscovered as the Colts have the ability to compete in their league.
This week sees the colts travel to Bury who sit a single point above them in the league. The sides met last month at Hough End and the Colts narrowly lost a game many who played that day felt they should have won. Sunday presents them with the opportunity to stop the rot and get their season back on track.
Other games this weekend see the 3rd XV play Hope Valley 1st XV and the 4th XV face off against local rivals Old Bedians 3rd XV, both at Hough End on Saturday.