IN an epic top of the table clash, Southern Bay Cyclones just failed to match the undefeated Everton Park, going down by 19-8 last weekend.
The unavailability of a number of key players was never going to help Cyclones' cause, and the wet conditions were never going to allow expansive rugby.
However, the sheer physicality and toughness in the match demonstrated the right of both teams to be sitting at the top of the table.
In a whirlwind start, both sides threw themselves completely into the game and while the underfoot conditions allowed, both sides attempted to run the ball.
Cyclones were shocked to find that at the first scrum of the game, their highly fancied opponents elected to play uncontested scrums, again negating one of Cyclones' potent weapons.
After mounting pressure on Everton Park's defence for several minutes, it was Cyclones who registered the first score thanks to a try by Dave Williams, playing in the unaccustomed position of wing, for Cyclones to lead 5-0.
When Everton Park had their time in possession they scored their first try and, with a conversion, led 7-5. As halftime approached, Cyclones forward defence cracked for the only time in the game, and Everton Park doubled their score to lead 14-5.
Stung into action, the final minutes of the half saw Cyclones camped in the Everton Park quarter and in the last action of the half, fly-half Matt Byrne from Cyclones kicked a penalty goal to take the score to 14-8.
Cyclones resumed after halftime knowing that a converted try would take them to the lead, and they launched assault after assault on the Everton Park line, but the defence continued to hold firm.
Against the run of play, Everton Park broke out of defence and scored a long range try in the corner to take their lead to 19-8.
Cyclones continued to push forward, but with limited reserves, had few fresh legs to call on.
In the last ten minutes, however, Cyclones managed to get across the line twice, the first time when centre Bren Robinson appeared to score but the referee was unsighted and therefore disallowed the try. The second time was when co-centre LJ Kidwell scored under the posts, but the referee called play back to admonish an Everton Park player for throwing a punch and elected to pack a scrum instead of allowing advantage to the Cyclones player.
And so, the final score was unchanged, Everton Park up 19-8.
Post-match it was agreed that Cyclones could count themselves unlucky having two tries disallowed, however the players who stepped up really made their presence felt.
Dave Williams scored the try of the day, and the Phil's Street Customs best player award was shared by Steve Berry and Jared Salem.
There is a full round bye this weekend.