Bonus in loss for Stockport
STOCKPORT travelled to the Wirral to face close rivals Birkenhead Park in what proved to be a close, hard fought game.
With the home side dominating possession for much of the game and Stockport prone to turnover possession in the tackle and an inaccurate lineout, securing a losing bonus point and being only three points behind was arguably a good outcome.
Back row Dan Brotherton scored an excellent individual try, which must be in for try of the season as he ran over 50 metres to outflank the Park defence for Stockport’s second try.
With three tries, two conversions and three penalties to four converted tries and a drop goal for the home side, the final score was 31-28 to Birkenhead Park.
Park were on the scoreboard after only two minutes as they built from halfway and, with good running, outflanked the Stockport defence for the wing to score a try that was duly converted.
It took only five minutes for Stockport to reply as a line out five metres out, following a penalty, was driven well and the ball went blind for lock Dean Schofield to score.
Liam McGovern converted for 7-7.
A high tackle gave Stockport another three points before some good tackling by the visitors kept out the strong running Park backs.
Simon Green, playing at centre, made a great run into the Birkenhead 22 and the home side conceded another penalty for not releasing in the tackle. McGovern was on target again to make it 7-13.
A penalty gave Park line out position and their patient recycling overcame determined Stockport defence to score under the posts to take them back into the lead at 14-13.
More good defence kept Birkenhead at bay until just before the break, when a Stockport clearance kick was fielded by the home full back on his 22 and his run through some poor tackles allowed him to offload for his right wing to score and make it 21-13 at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half Brotherton took a pass on his own 10 metre line and burst through the Park line, finding himself in space he then kept going to out pace the Birkenhead defenders.
This was a great try and will take some beating as an individual effort. McGovern converted and Stockport were within a point at 21-20.
Park attacked again, but just missed out as their right wing seemed to have scored.
The Stockport line out was not straight and at the scrum the Park No 8 picked up and went over on the blind side to put them 28-20 up as the game went in to the final quarter.
McGovern added another penalty before the home prop was yellow carded.
Some good defence by Stockport kept Park out until a surprise drop goal took the home side clear by eight points.
Stockport were not finished, going through many phases before the ball found its way out to substitute back row Callum Hibbs on the left and he was able to make 25 metres to touch down wide out.
The conversion hit the post but Stockport had done enough to secure the losing bonus point at 31-28.
Next week is the twice postponed fixture against Douglas IOM at Headlands Road, kick off is at 1.30pm
●●Scrum half Rory Austin breaking through the Park defence