BRAGGING rights for the first part of the season are firmly on the north side of the river after Waterloo took the honours 40-20 over Merseyside rivals Birkenhead Park at Blundellsands last Saturday.
Although the score flattered the home side, a five point bonus win cannot be sniffed at and with 10 points on the table from the opening three games, the best start the club has enjoyed for a number of seasons.
“It was a good win and to get all five points was very pleasing,” said director of rugby Jan Van Deventer after the game.
“We have now ten points in the table and that represents our best start to a season for a number of years. However, we are still a work in progress as we lost concentration and allowed Park to come back into the game after taking a 17-0 lead. Other sides will not be as forgiving.”
The home side started with a real flourish, Sean Colbourne darting over inside five minutes for Liam Reeve to add the extras before Andrew Trotter stormed through a bewildered Park defence to increase the lead further.
With a margin of 20 points at the end of the first quarter, Waterloo seemed to have found real flaws in the visitors’ defence.
However circumstances changed rapidly when Waterloo were reduced to 14 men after Martin Bell had been yellow carded.
Park began to find a new lease of life and with the half hour approaching strong work by the pack enabled hooker Stuart Brown to touch down, Dave Hall adding the extras.
“Again we lost a man to the sin bin,” Deventer said.
”At this level of rugby you need all 15 players on the field for the full 80. Going down to 14 just gifts opposition points and we cannot afford to do that.
“It happened at Kendal and we paid the price. This week we got away with it but we will not always be so lucky.”
Park’s pressure paid off when Stuart Brown forced his way over the line for his second, Hall adding the conversion.
With the break approaching, Hall was again on target to narrow the gap before Reeve cancelled it out.
The second half began in Park’s favour, Hall again narrowing the deficit to a mere three points.
However, Waterloo were not to be denied and from turnover ball near the corner opened the gap once more and into added time the home side again broke loose for Dan King to touch down before James O’Brien sealed the bonus point with a typical dash to the corner.
“I thought we controlled matters at the base of the scrum very well with Tom Holloway and Liam Reeve giving us direction,” Deventer said.
”In the pack the back row played well, but for me Daniel Foster at lock had a superb game and he has really started to come through this season.”
This Saturday, Waterloo are away to third place Harrogate, who so far remain undefeated after relegation fron N2N at the end of last season.
“This is going to be a tough game for us,” Deventer admitted.
“Harrogate are a good side and are determined to make a swift return to N2N but we will be going up to compete for a win.”