THE faces are familiar, but this is a different Winnington Park.

If this was their sternest examination of the season so far, then they passed.

A distance between the teams was wider on the field than the final score suggests although, even if it feels counter-intuitive, head coach Matt Farr may even be encouraged by that.

His side would have lost this game last term.

Their opponents, ruthless in punishing Park’s errors, kept the contest alive until the final-whistle.

Jack Williams’ yellow card with five minutes left made the closing stages more fraught than they ought to have been, but his teammates refused to wilt.

Their reward is a notable scalp.

Liverpool Collegiate lost at Burrows Hill little more than a year ago, but recovered to finish a point adrift of a promotion play-off place.

They arrived in Northwich after winning all but one of their previous matches, making them a marker against which their hosts could compare their credentials.

On this evidence, they stack up.

Park dominated the opening half-hour, and were rewarded with tries for Matt Treacy, Shaun Underdown and Lee Allmark.

None was like another.

Treacy raced to the line after the home team created an overlap with slick ball movement from right to left before Underdown barged over following a maul.

Cameron Flanagan converted.

Allmark was second-favourite to reach Jack Williams’ improvised kick to the corner, but he made it anyway.

Collegiate replied two converted tries before the break, both borne of opportunism and quick-thinking.

Their momentum dissipated though when replacement James Moran went over in the corner following a scrum.

Flanagan expertly added the extras.

Liverpool were unfazed, and their wing scorched to the whitewash after possession was turned over in their half.

A successful conversion followed, making it 24-21.

The ebb and flow continued, and Moran darted onto a loose ball knocked from substitute Harry Stubbs’ hands by the impact of a tackle on the visitors’ defensive line.

Flanagan remained reliable, and Park led 31-21.

When full-back Chris Sheppard sprinted to the corner, after gleefully collecting Jack Williams’ arced pass, they could have been forgiven for seeing the finish-line.

After all, no side had scored as many points against the Merseysiders since Bowdon more than 18 months earlier.

However their guests, still with 20 minutes to recover, stopped them in their tracks by running in a fourth try that earned a bonus-point.

When Williams was then sent to the sin-bin, the visitors sniffed an opportunity.

A gap between the teams felt narrower than ever when they made the most of their numerical advantage to dot down again in the last minute.

Added time passed slowly for those watching, less so for those clad in white.

Confidence restored, they’re made of sterner stuff these days.

Park | Taylor, Evans, Underdown, Cross, Treacy, Dykes, Glendinning, Danny Williams, Jack Williams, Flanagan, Allmark, Brookes, Johnson, Pugh, Sheppard Replacements Ryan Williams, Stubbs, Burgess, Moran, Hallworth Tries Treacy, Underdown, Allmark, Moran (2), Sheppard Cons Flanagan (3)