Birkenhead Park 32-14 Vale

Nick Royle scoring.
Nick Royle scoring.
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Vale were unable to secure a bonus point of any description at Birkenhead Park on Saturday, but it was not for want of trying.

Despite suffering their fourth North One West defeat of the season the league’s leading try scorer, Vale’s full back Nick Royle, added a brace to his impressive record to bring his total to 24 from his 12 appearances, in a game where the home side’s defence proved difficult to breakdown.

Playing towards the historic clubhouse Park set a high tempo but the Vale defended well and managed to launch a number of counter attacks to remind the home side and their supporters it would not all be all one way traffic, but nerves were soothed and massaged in the twelfth minute when Park scored.

From a line out, where the Vale had failed too control the ball, an attack expanded from right to left and suddenly the Vale’s defence was exposed.

David Haigh made a valiant effort to block an avenue but full back and skipper Dave Hall touched down for an unconverted try.

Suddenly Park began to play with a little more dynamism which had been generated by their score and in the sixteenth minute they extended their lead when a rolling maul ended with hooker Stuart Brown being shunted over for his try.

Vale’s defensive capabilities were given a stiff examination but by sheer hard work they successfully plugged the gaps until the twenty sixth minute when from close range Brown blasted his way over to give Hall the opportunity to put over his only conversion.

Early in the second half a Vale scrum was waltzed round and in the confusion wing forward Rob Doolan flirted away for a try through a flat Vale defence, not the ideal start for the visitors who had conceded the try bonus point.

Gareth Tudor had a kick charged down in the sixty third minute which led to a try wide out for winger Joe Spencer.

It appeared that the Vale were going to be “nilled” for the first time this season but this particular statistic was avoided in the sixty ninth minute when Royle won the race for the touchdown following a well won line out.

Oli Carter added the conversion but two minutes later number eight Laurence Cowen efficiently slipped off the base of a scrum and scurried down the short side for a twinkling try.

Skipper Jonty Higgin intercepted a pass on half way and swept towards Park’s line in a race tracked by Royle and when a lone defender loomed up Higgin sent Royle on his merry way for his brace which Carter converted.

There could be few gripes about Vale’s defeat, on the day Birkenhead Park deserved their victory and it is hard to imagine them not being in the promotion mix at the end of last season.