A thoroughly professional display earned Percy Park a 24-12 win over Aspatria at Bower Park.
Yet the hosts took their North East visitors to the wire and for a lengthy period in the second half looked the most likely to go on and win a nail biting encounter.
On this performance both these teams can expect to be contesting the Durham/Northumberland One league campaign at the right end of the table.
With only a couple of minutes on the clock Aspatria demonstrated respect for the visitors with a 40-yard penalty attempt which was wide.
It was an unusual tactic from a team that normally likes to run the ball from these situations but it set the tone for a tense first half.
The first scrum of the day came on six minutes and it easily went in Aspatria’s favour. This domination was apparent throughout the game and not always rewarded by the match official.
The teams produced some high quality rugby in the first quarter, when scoring opportunities were regularly generated, but defences were on top at this stage.
Second rower Phil Dixon was in outstanding form and leading the tackle count for the home side.
Park broke the scoring deadlock on 23 minutes with a penalty and increased the lead with a second after 31 minutes.
At this point the pace of Park’s back division began to trouble Aspatria and pull defenders out of position.
The watching crowd waited until the 36th minute for the first try of the day. Initially, it seemed Aspatria might be the scorers but a promising move broke down in the Park 22.
A penalty allowed Park to gain territory and this was the catalyst for a move over several phases which resulted in an unconverted try and an 11-0 lead at half-time.
The home side opened the second period with a blitz on the Park line, dominating early field position but also failing to breach the final few yards to gain a score.
Having escaped unscathed Park then showed respect to Aspatria with an attempted penalty wide out and near enough on the half-way line but it came back off the post.
Aspatria returned to the offensive and pressure on Park was immense. Last ditch tackling and bodies on the line without fear for personal safety saved them.
It really was gritty stuff but on 53 minutes they were finally breached.
Full back Ryan Scott played a key role in making ground and delivering a well-timed pass to Grant Bethwaite. The right winger had the gas to round the last of the cover defence and dot down for an unconverted try.
Aspatria were now on top and deservedly took the lead on 61 minutes after a penalty had put them deep in the Park 22.
The home forwards had no plan other than to bludgeon their way to the line as Gary Hodgson and Matthew Atkinson were key to the move. But the final wrestle to the line was undertaken by back row man, Chris Graham for a 12-11 lead.
The home side continued to press. Several good moves came close to increasing the lead. Both back row Jamie Lightfoot and centre Heinie Jonker were knocked back with the try line in sight.
With 10 minutes left Aspatria held the advantage but in this short space of time the game once more turned on its head.
The first blow to Aspatria was the loss of Scott, yellow carded for a no arms tackle. Park used the ground gained to launch a concerted attack and score a try to snatch back the lead.
With the minutes ticking away Park kicked a penalty for a crossing offence as Aspatria attempted to launch an attack from their 22.
With little time left Aspatria still held a losing bonus point and more importantly the ambition to achieve another score.
This proved to be their undoing as Park plundered a messy effort to recycle possession and with the last move of the game dotted down again to deny Aspatria any reward.