KNUTSFORD were edged out 36-31 at second-placed Birkenhead as their three-match winning run came to a halt.

They established a healthy first-half lead but let themselves down after the interval.

Looking to complete the league double, Knutsford started on the front foot.

James Clempner went over after a perfectly executed catch and driven maul. Jim Southall added the extras.

Birkenhead responded at the other end after Knutsford conceded too many penalties for offsides, hands in the ruck and general poor discipline.

Knutsford finally found their stride though.

Quick ball in space found Cook who fed the backs, followed the pass and received it back from inside centre Dave Gol where it opened up and Cook ran in from just inside the opponents’ half.

Joaquim scored next after a great running line in the backs from James Southall. He rode two tackles before being stopped just before the line and popped up the ball to the supporting scrum-half.

Cook scored again in the corner just before half time, again strong play by centres Gol and Bensky led to winger Cameron Smyth making yards, expertly drawing two tacklers and giving a perfectly timed pass to the supporting Cook, Southall adding the extras.

Half-time almost wasn’t wanted as Knutsford led 24-7.

The second half was as poor as it has got for Knutsford this season.

Lazy offsides and an enormous penalty count saw Birkenhead get back into the game.

The referee was strict on playing the ball at the breakdown and Knutsford found themselves several scores down from not watching the guards either side, not getting to the breakdown quickly enough to retain, or playing the ball off their feet.

Birkenhead capitalised and despite a consolation try from player coach Chris Edmonds the home side turned the tide.

Hopefully key lessons will be taken into the next game against high flying Capenhurst at home this Saturday.