Broughton Park 0

Blackburn 7

DINO Radice hailed the defensive qualities of his side as they finished the year on a four-game winning streak to set up a push for the play-offs in the new year.

Marc Maher scored the only try of the game as Blackburn moved up to fourth place in North One West - just two points off second-place Stockport.

It has been an impressive turnaround from the Ramsgreave Drive club who had slipped to ninth place having lost their previous four games.

And Radice praised their all-round performance of his players in difficult conditions.

“I have never been involved in a game where it has been so cold, it was freezing,” said the director of rugby. “Broughton Park is a wide open ground and the conditions were just atrocious.

“But the lads were superb. Defensively they were brilliant and that is what pleased me the most. Anyone can score a freak try but to defend the way they did shows they are listening to what we tell them.

“They were immense and I can’t praise them highly enough.”

As expected, Broughton Park had Burn under pressure from the off but the visitors’ defence stood firm.

But in the 23rd minute, a mazy run from Leon Fifield put Burn in a good position. The ball was recycled and Maher’s grubber kick wasn’t dealt with well by the defenders and ricocheted over the try line with Maher winning the foot race against two retreating defenders to fall on the ball to score.

Fifield added the conversion - the last points of the game.

Radice likened the win to the smash and grab raid on the Isle of Man last season - which was also played in awful conditions and sparked a run to the brink of the play-offs.

While that ultimately faded, Radice is hoping his side can go all the way this time around.

“The game was very similar to the Douglas match in many ways,” he said. “The weather was terrible and, just like Douglas, Broughton Park are very good at home and we were not expected to win. It was their big Christmas do as well, lots of family and friends there and a bouncy castle in the clubhouse. It was a game they weren’t intending to lose, generally you don’t want to lose when you are holding a do. So when you add all that in to the mix, it was a very satisfactory victory.”

Radice set his side the target of winning the four games to get their campaign back on track and is now looking forward to the second half of the season that resumes at home to struggling Anselmians on Saturday, January 5.

“That run of games was very important for our entire season,” said Radice. “Had we lost a couple we would have had nothing to play for.

“Now we have everything to play for and we definitely want to go for the play-offs. We had a great run last season and were right up there until the end but faded in the last couple of weeks.

“But we can learn from that. So we can all enjoy the Christmas break and come back raring to go in what should be an interesting second half of the season.”