Blackbrook 0 Pilkington Recs 4
THE race for the North West Counties League Premier Division looks set to go down to the wire after Pilks inflicted a first defeat of the season on their rivals in a hard-fought derby played in atrocious conditions at Boardmans Lane.
This was never going to be a high-scoring encounter and although both teams deserved praise for their endeavour to play open rugby, defences were firmly on top.
Brook had much the better of the opening quarter and should have opened the scoring when stand-off Chris Springford broke through.
He looked like he could have scored himself but, as the cover defence arrived, his pass to winger Tommy Cunningham drifted well forward and the chance was lost.
On the half-hour mark though it was Pilks who scored what turned out to be the only points of the game.
Brook lost possession deep in their own half and although dogged defence seemed to have stubbed out the danger, they were caught napping when the visitors’ stand-off Ryan Rogers ran the ball on the last tackle and found a way over the line for an unconverted try.
After the break the worsening conditions ensured that scoring chances were few and far between.
Rogers had a chance to increase his side’s lead when he hacked a loose ball on towards the try line - only to see the ball bobble into touch.
Then, with 10 minutes left, Brook looked set to to draw level when centre Danny Davies reacted quickest to a kick-through and lunged at the ball over the line.
However, the referee ruled he had failed to make contact with the ball - a decision that saw Brook playmaker Lee Marsh dismissed for dissent.
The home side were then reduced to 11 men when Danny Fairhurst was given a yellow card, again for dissent.
Despite this handicap, they launched one final assault on the Pilks line and superb play took them to within striking distance from where Dave Llewellyn sent winger Dave Weldon over in the corner for what looked like a well-deserved equalising try.
Once again though the official ruled the Brook man had failed to get the ball down and blew the final whistle.