Northern Division - South Lancs & Cheshire Division 2

Port Sunlight 22 v Oswestry 20

Oswestry were edged out in a thriller on the Wirral peninsula as they made their first appearance in March following consistent poor weather.

The Eagles travelled to Port Sunlight’s Levers ground on a lovely sunny day having not played since the end of February, and Oswestry kicked off towards the club house.

Oswestry full-back Iwan Ellis, with an early touch of the ball, returned the kick with it hitting a home team player before going into touch close to the Oswestry 22 giving the first line out of the game to Oswestry. Fletcher Owen-Youens caught the ball at the front of the line out but the determination of the home team's pack was rewarded with a scrum from the referee.

Play continued in this vain with Port Sunlight’s large pack trying to dominate the Oswestry team. With more than 20 minutes of stalemate between the teams, Sunlight's determination and persistence paid off and they were awarded a penalty just inside the Oswestry half, which they converted to lead 3-0.

From the Oswestry restart the visitors were trying to push the Wirral team back into their half. Port Sunlight were once again in the Oswestry half close to their 22 and from aggressive tackling by the Oswestry forwards were able to get turn over ball giving the ball to Nikola Nickolov, who from his 22 line ran at pace almost the entire length of the pitch to score a great try close to Port Sunlight’s posts. Fin Grogan stepped up and converted the try to put the Eagles 7-3 ahead.

From the home team's restart Oswestry looked out of sorts and the lack of match play was starting to take its toll. Oswestry kept making handling errors and giving penalty’s away to the home team.

However as half-time was approaching Oswestry were in the home team’s 22, Liam Williams scored at the corner. The conversion was narrowly missed and Oswestry went into half-time 12-3 ahead.

Port Sunlight kicked off the second half but Oswestry were quick to attack the home teams half with Andrew Smith going on a strong run before he was tackled. The ball found its way out to Fabrizio Gaito who managed to score his first try for Oswestry, which remained unconverted to put Oswestry 17-3 ahead.

But after Oswestry conceded a host of penalties, Sunlight were able to score their first try of the afternoon to make it 10-17 against the run of play when the Eagles should have been pushing for a fourth try and a bonus point.

Port Sunlight took strength from their comeback, with the home support getting behind them and again attacked the Oswestry line. The relentless pressure from the strong Sunlight’s pack caused another conceded penalty with Fletcher Owen-Youens been given a yellow card. With home team's advantage of an extra player they run in their second try pegging the score back to 15-17 as the conversion was missed.

Injuries began to take their toll on Oswestry and coach Kevin Whitehead rung the changes.

Williams gave way for a debut appearance of Louis Mackenzie making his first appearance this season. Again against the run of play Oswestry were in the home teams half and were awarded a penalty. From over 35 yards out Grogan was able enough to kick between the posts to once again extend the Oswestry lead to 20 points to 15.

On the 33rd minute of the half Fletcher Owen-Youens returned to the game. For the remaining time of the match Oswestry were holding out defending their lines but with 42 minutes of play in the second half Port Sunlight were awarded a scrum close to the Oswestry line. The scrum was won by the home team and in the ensuing struggle of the home team trying to get the ball over the line the referee blew his whistle and awarded a penalty try.

The home team now led 22-20. Almost immediately after the restart a Port Sunlight player kicked the ball out of play and the referee blew his whistle for full time.

Oswestry remain in 10th place on 42 points with their next fixture on Saturday, April 7 against Vagabonds at Granville Park. Man of the match was awarded to skipper Smith.

nMeanwhile, the second XV picked up an excellent win at Granville Park on Saturday.

The Eagles's second string posted an impressive 52-5 win over Linley and Kidsgrove in the Halbro North West Leagues Division 4 South.

On Saturday, they are back on the road as they make the trip to Bowdon in Greater Manchester for a 3pm start.