Games between these two sides have always been well contested affairs and last Saturday's encounter at Grove Park was little different, baring all the hall marks of a hard fought traditional derby.
With Manchester are up against it and too close to the relegation zone for comfort this was a game they could not really afford to lose. Firwood Waterloo had no such problems and could have been forgiven for easing off the pedal save they are still smarting over nine points deducted due to the debacle of St. Benedicts. Yet rugby is unforgiving and the visitors showed enough grit and determination to leave the home side still unsure of their league status next term despite gleaning two bonus points
"These games are always tough and Manchester were certainly up for it," stated head coach Stu Turner. "We could have sat back but full credit to the team they really got stuck in and came away with a well deserved victory."
Firwood Waterloo had made a number of changes to their normal starting line up with some unfamiliar names on the team sheet.
"We thought it a good opportunity to give some of our up and coming youngsters a chance and brought in a new centre combination of Tom Perrin and Ross Green with Bulgarian international Alex Tenev and Josh Jenkins in the back row with an eye on next season," Turner explained.
Manchester as expected began well with two tries and a conversion to take a 12-0 lead, Firwood Waterloo replied with a try from Tenev, the back row up in support of a break by Luke Nelson and taking advantage of quick recycled ball. Tom Booth added the conversion and with a later penalty the visitors went in trailing 12-10.
Manchester went over for a try after the restart but a try from Jonny Roberts, the scrum half going fifty metres, picking up from the second ruck following a line out, Booth's conversion levelling matters at 17-17.
Manchester were not finished and regained the lead with a fourth try to secure the try bonus point.
Yet again Firwood Waterloo came back with a try on the back of another break by Nelson, this time Scott Robinson coming up in support on the inside to level the scores for a second time.
However with time running out a last minute penalty from Booth sealed the win for the visitors with the home side taking a second bonus for losing within seven.
"It was really 'nip and tuck', " Turner confessed, " but we came away with what we wanted which was a win and our debutants will be better for the experience."
This coming Saturday Firwood Waterloo are at home to Carlisle, the final home game of the season.
Updated 17:18 - 9 Apr 2018 by Paul McManus