Huddersfield YMCA did their survival chances a power of good with a terrific 29-22 win at Birkenhead Park.
YM moved above Birkenhead Park and Cleckheaton in the National III North table and will look to improve their situation further when bottom club Burnage visit Laund Hill on Saturday.
With both teams in the relegation zone, the neutral spectator could be forgiven for expecting a scrappy game, but this was far from the truth. The spring like weather on the Wirral and good under-foot conditions allowed both teams to play out a thrilling end-to-end game full of skill and commitment.
It turned out to be a game of two styles, with the home team using their big forwards to rumble up field before releasing their backs, while the YM ran with ball in hand from all corners of the field.
The opening exchanges were fast and furious.
After 23 minutes the home pressure told and the deadlock was broken when, after a line-out catch and drive, the No8 Dave Ibbotson powered over for the first score. Hall converted to give Park a seven-point advantage.
As the half progressed the visitors came more into the game with their terrier-like defence frustrating the home team.
From a breakdown in play on half way the ball was kicked downfield, forcing the home defence to scramble. The clearing kick only found Lloyd Bentley and the wing took it on the full and raced down the touchline to score wide out.
Wilson missed the conversion from the touchline but the YM were back in the game at 7-5 down.
YM then went ahead for the first time when Wilson slotted over a penalty from 40m.
Park regained the lead almost immediately when a mix-up in the YM defence allowed Jones a shot at goal after the visitors were caught offside.
As the half drew to a close, YM retook the lead when, after strong work from Watson and Bell, the ball was recycled. Adam Ryder took the ball on half way and raced around a tiring defence to go fully 50m to score. Wilson converted.
Park came storming back and laid siege to the YM line, the visitors cause not helped when Nathan Chapple was yellow-carded for not allowing a quick tap penalty.
Inexplicably, Park chose to scrum and YM’s scrum held up.
Still down to 14 men, YM increased their lead when, once again, they turned defence into attack with first Jack Ledgard and Ryder combining to send Stead over. Wilson converted from wide out and it was 22-10.
Park re-asserted themselves to pressure the visitors defence and after several phases of play, Dave Morgan slipped through a scrambling YM defence to touch down wide of the posts. Hall converted to reduce the YM advantage to 22-17.
A penalty took YM deep into Park territory, the resulting catch and drive rolled into centre field where YM skipper Wilson sold the most outrageous dummy to the home defence to stroll over under the posts. He duly converted his own try to make it 29-17 to YM.
Once again Park responded when scrum half Sam Chidley sneaked over wide out. Hall was unable to add the extras.
Desperate Park attacks were met with resolute YM defence and a crunching tackle by Chapple forced a knock-on to end the contest.<p/>
YM: Fletcher, Bentley, Stead, Ryder, Chapple, Ledgard, Wilson, Watson, Emsley, Moore, Housley, Robertson, Hodge, Starbuck, Edwards. Subs(all used) Bell, Twigg, Morton.