THE BLUES travelled to Manchester to play Sedgley Park, who finished a creditable fourth in National Two last season.
This was a game of two halves, with the opening minutes full of aggression normally associated with a league fixture and after eight minutes, New Brighton's new flanker Ian Grainy collided in a tackle with Richard Senior, who was carried off.
The game was end-to-end with lots of skirmishes and big hits. After a lot of good work by the Blues with 10 minutes gone they drove over to score what seemed a great try, only for the referee to disallow it and curiously award them a penalty five metres out.
The game continued in robust style and with 20 minutes on the clock from a five-metre line-out Sedgely's prop Roberts went over, the conversion making it 7-0.
Not to be outdone the Blues came storming back, playing some fluid rugby and four minutes later Riaz Fredericks put Paul Brett in to level the scores.
With New Brighton now well on top, after 29 minutes another good passing movement was started by Riaz, on to Brett then back inside to Loa Tupou who went over under the posts to make it 7-14.
The Blues were rampant now and came close on several occasions only to be stopped dead in their tracks by some great tackling from the home side.
Something had to give and on 34 minutes having driven Sedgely deep into their own half they won a Sedgely lineout, set up a maul and drove them back.
A quick pass from Wood to O' Connor set up Dan Naylor to score out wide, a great conversion by Brett making the score 7-21.
This was good stuff; the ball was being passed all over the park with backs and forwards popping up all over the place.
Just before half-time however a good move by the home side ended with a try by Vortman who touched down after some prolonged pressure on the Blues line.
But into the third minute of injury time, Wood went over to make it 14-28 after several battering runs had been repulsed.
Both teams made several changes at the break, with the Blues giving several fringe players a run and unfortunately the game changed.
After three minutes of the second half, a Blues attack was halted with a bad pass, which was intercepted by Sedgely's Goosen who ran 50 metres and scored under the posts. The conversion made the score 21-28.
The game was now messy with lots of poor mistakes, by both teams, but it was Sedgley who got their act together first and after consistent pressure with 69 minutes gone a good run from Carlos Hassan, who again broke far to many tackles, saw him score under the posts, levelling the game.
With 10 minutes left New Brighton brought back some more experienced players and immediately tightened up their game and going on the offensive.
They came close several times only to see the forwards get turned over or the ball spilled trying to go that yard too far.
On 78 minutes Sedgely, having soaked up all the Blues could muster, were rewarded - taking advantage of the visitors' ineptitude for Goosen to score out wide for a five-point lead, 33-28.
Now well into injury time with 86 min-utes showing on the clock, another missed tackle allowed Vortman in to finish the scoring for Sedgely for a final score of 40-28.
The Blues will reflect on this game with mixed feelings. There was a great deal to be satisfied with on their first-half performance, but the third quarter was awful.
There may have been a number of young players on the pitch at the time but they were not the only ones making the unforced errors. The last quarter was better but the rot had set in by then.