WINNINGTON Park RUFC men’s first XV concluded their league campaign with a 15-13 defeat at Altrincham Kersal on Saturday.

With AK seventh in the league and Park in eighth, this was always going to be an evenly matched game.

The last meeting, all the way back to the first game of the season, was another close affair which Park won 30-24.

Benny Elliot converted an early penalty for Park but then AK mounted some pressure and scored their first unconverted try after seven minutes following a driving maul from a lineout.

A cagey period ended with Elliot converting a second penalty to put Park 6-5 to the good.

Following a penalty against Park the hosts kicked for territory and from the lineout they spun the ball out wide quickly and scored a converted try for 12-6.

The remainder of the first half was a tough grind, with both sides having decent possession.

Park looked the better side but AK were very impressive in defence.

The second half started with the hosts enjoying early possession and attacking Park from the ‘get go’.

It needed a great try-saving cover tackle from Elliot to save Park from another try in the corner.

Park found a bit of possession and used the boot to gain territory and were rewarded with a scrum five metres out from the AK goal line.

Park won the scrum and put together six phases of attack through the forwards and then saw an opportunity on the right wing with an overlap where Elliot tried to connect with Alex Burrage but AK knocked on the potential intercept.

The referee deemed it a professional foul and awarded a penalty try, putting Park 13-12 in front.

The game had 30 minutes to go with both sides capable of taking the win.

Both teams showed their hunger and played to their strengths but defences were steadfast and the arm wrestle continued throughout the second half.

This win or loss was potentially going to be down to game management and one error.

Park made that error in their own 22, being caught offside in a very kickable position with only nine minutes left on the clock.

AK took the points to take the lead and held on to win.

On reflection, it was certainly a league season of two halves, with three wins from 12 games pre-Christmas break and five from 10 in 2023.

It has been a transitional season with the restructure and promotion to level six and the team have worked really hard in a tough league to compete at this level.

Park: Chris Twigg, Liam Geary, Alex Burrage, James Johnson (captain), Charlie Hyde, Benny Elliot, Cameron Flanagan, Tom King, Justin Oles, Evan Boucher, Benn Cann, Dave Cross, Matt Treacy, Jack England, Dan Williams, Gary Dykes, Bruce McGrogan and Gregor Purves