AK Junior Colts (12) vs Birkenhead Park (39)
AK couldn't maintain their excellent first half display to the end
Final's day is always an occasion to look forward to and having been unsuccessful twice in recent years, the team were eager to make amends this time around. On paper this looked like a really tough test with Birkenhead Park riding high in Conference League A, having lost only once all season. Whilst there was inevitably a degree of nerves before kick off, there was also a real belief within the side that they could compete evenly in this game.
That belief was evident right from the first whistle, AK looked comfortable in possession and organised in defence winning the majority of the opening encounter. On 10 minutes Kersal opened the scoring after being awarded a scrum on the Birkenhead 5 more line. Derry O'Driscoll peeled off the back row before the opposition could react, scoring under the posts. Max Brookes slotted a simple conversion.
The pitch at Crouchley Lane was in magnificent condition and ideal for fast running rugby. Birkenhead used the conditions to good effect on 15 minutes to score in the right corner, with the subsequent kick excellently converted to level at 7-7. Kersal regained the lead on 22 minutes, following some excellent interplay in the back line, switching the direction of play twice to stretch the Birkenhead defence, before finding Max Brookes out wide to score right on the flag.
Just before half time Birkenhead levelled the score at 12-12, their impressive forwards creating problems for the Kersal defence. The first half finished all square, but on balance, Kersal were the more dominant side for the most part.
The second half did not start well with Birkenhead scoring inside the first minute to take the lead for the first time 12-17. Soon after they slotted a penalty to extend the lead to eight. The knowledge of needing two scores to regain the lead seemed to deflate the Kersal boys, which resulted in a loss of concentration and an increase in errors, giving the ball back to the opposition who didn't need a second offer to capitalise, scoring three more tries before the end to take the score to 12-39.
AK didn't give up and had a number of chances to come back, but they didn't get the breaks, notably several infringements by the opposition which the officials didn't see, which could have made a difference.
The game was played in good spirits, with two committed sides playing the game in a fair, competitive way.
Congratulations to Birkenhead Park on their well deserved victory.
Tries - Derry O'Driscoll, Max Brookes
Cons - Max Brookes