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LIVERPOOL ST HELENS 20 WEST PARK 20

Honours ended up even after eighty minutes of surprisingly good rugby, given the atrocious weather conditions, in this eagerly awaited St Helens derby. Played in heavy rain throughout, together with a strong wind which favoured West Park in the first half and LSH in the second, both sides should be complemented on producing a cracking game the outcome of which most observers on both sides were heard to say was “a fair result”.

Not that there were many spectators left in the open by the time the referee blew for full time. The relentless rain had taken its toll on those on the terraces by then whilst the occupants of the Moss Lane stand had come to realise that it was built in earlier years for fair weather use only.  

West Park dominated the first half. Making full use of the wind they pinned LSH in their own half for most of the forty minutes and went ahead in the 4th minute with a try after throwing the ball about and taking advantage of a gap in the LSH defensive line when it came. 0-5. The lead was extended after 18 minutes when a decent high kick down the left wing was seemingly ignored by all the LSH players in the vicinity, leaving West Park with a free run in to the left hand corner. Converted. 0-12.

LSH, severely handicapped by a worrying inability to win their own lineout, were finding it difficult to gain possession and just before the half hour mark the visitors scored again with a try that owed as much to the conditions leading to a sequence of errors as to the undoubted hunger of the visitors to extend their lead. 0-17. This was followed soon after by a red card to one of the West Park props for foul play, an isolated action not in keeping with the rest of the game.  

LSH needed something special to get back into the game and it came in the shape of replacement centre Dave Cunliffe in the 35th minute who crashed, barged and ran around 25 yards to score. Dan Filson converted. 7-17. There was still time for both sides to register a penalty before half time.     10-20.

The teams turned round and so did the game. LSH made pressure tell after 53 minutes when a good break from Matt Cunliffe was continued by Filson with Rob Mitchell in support. The flanker made no mistake from 15 yards to touch down under the posts. Filson converted. 17-20.

With the afternoon’s rain now leaving its mark on the pitch and with West Park defending resolutely and in no mood to let their slender lead slip, try as they might LSH found no way through. Dan Filson slotted a penalty in the 65th minute to level matters, 20-20, and with both sides giving their all and creating half chances the final fifteen minutes was entertaining but remained in deadlock.     

Team

15 Filson 14 McBride 13 Cunliffe M 12 McClurg 11 Hodson 10 Johnston 9 Wilson 1 Heywood 2 Houlton 3 Fryer 4 Royle 5 Gore 6 Mitchell 7 Ward 8 Potter 16 MaCauley 17 Webster 18 Cunliffe D