Hawcoat Park couldn’t maintain their good recent home form last Saturday, as second-placed Aspatria ran out deserved 31-14 winners in Cumbria Division One.

The soggy conditions unfortunately played into the hands of the visitors’ imposing forwards, who deprived the Maroon and Whites of the ball for long periods and dominated at the line-out.

It was just the third time Park have been defeated on their own turf this season, as five unanswered Aspatria tries put the game beyond them, forcing them to chase in weather not conducive to running rugby.

Captain George Smith said: “They’re a well-drilled side, they move the ball about well, so the conditions meant that it was going to be game for the forwards and they’ve got a strong pack, who got the better of us.

“The main thing was that they kept hold of their ball well. I thought we did well when we got the ball, but they kept hold of it for the majority of the game.

“These weren’t really the conditions where you could chase the game and throw the ball about, but they’re a well-drilled side and they did well.”

In contrast to a lot of what followed, Hawcoat Park controlled the early stages and opened the scoring after six minutes when tighthead prop John Donnan burrowed over from close range after a disrupted driving maul.

Smith added the conversion, but Aspatria grew into the game and hit back in the 19th minute when Andy Holcroft broke away down the left before timing his pass to allow fellow flanker Phil Dixon to score in the corner.

Fly-half Jack Clegg couldn’t convert, although the visitors soon led anyway, as captain Matthew Atkinson peeled off the back of a scrum before Clegg sniped over to score.

At this point, it was wave after wave of Aspatria attacks and they added a third try after 32 minutes when scrum-half Jason Ward cleverly flicked the ball out for prop Graham Andrews to bundle his way in.

A poor clearance then led to the Black Reds sealing their try bonus point before half-time, as Ryan Scott found a big overlap on the left, which led to Andrew Miller putting winger Gethin Roberts in the clear.

Aspatria lock Liam Ridley was sin-binned just after the half-time whistle for needlessly antagonising the Hawcoat forwards after an attacking scrum was repelled.

The Maroon and Whites couldn’t capitalise, however, and fell further behind when Greg Dickinson was put through by another good pass from Ward, with Clegg’s conversion taking the score to 31-7. Park did have the final word after some late pressure when openside Harry Higgins grounded the ball off the back of a strong scrum.

Next up is the rearranged match at bottom side Upper Eden on Saturday, with Smith saying: “They’re down there with us, so hopefully we can give them a beating, fingers crossed.”