It could have been a banana skin fixture but there proved to be no concerns in the end for Carlisle Rugby Club who eased past Birkenhead Park.

The league leaders romped to a 47-13 home win to retain their six-point lead over Blackburn with just three games remaining.

On paper, this was the toughest match that Carlisle had left but they made light work of the team lying in third place in the North One West table.

The visitors had only lost twice since the turn of the year, so it was good that any Carlisle nerves were settled within two minutes.

A scrum inside the visitors’ half allowed Carlisle the chance to go wide. Spurning a penalty opportunity, full-back Max Connon jinked down the left, laying off a pass to brother Grant.

The fly-half spotted space behind the defence and chipped a kick over into the end zone, winning the foot-race to touchdown for Carlisle’s first try, which he converted himself.

Birkenhead were soon on the scoresheet, though, scoring a penalty 30 metres out for holding on at the breakdown.

Carlisle quickly turned up the screw from the restart, and centre Chris Auld made a piercing run through the Birkenhead defence to set-up player-coach Matt Shields to go under the posts for Carlisle’s second try.

Carlisle were playing with a lot of intensity and pace, none more so than Grant Connon, who got on the end of a pass from the back of a line-out inside Carlisle’s half. Beating three defenders, he turned on the gas and fended off the full-back to go under the posts for his second try with just 12 minutes gone.

Birkenhead were no pushovers and, gradually, forced Carlisle back into their half, securing a try of their own from a line-out catch and drive after 15 minutes.

The visitors had much of the possession for the next 10 minutes, but Carlisle defended well and, eventually, a penalty infringement allowed Carlisle to clear their lines.

This gave Carlisle the momentum to go forward again and, with a driving maul heading towards the try-line, Birkenhead lost their prop and head coach to the bin for dragging the maul down.

It was just a delay to the inevitable as the penalty was scrummed and Shields guided the ball across the line for Carlisle’s fourth and bonus-point try on 32 minutes.

They eventually could feel well satisfied with a 28-8 lead at half-time.

The visitors were given no respite in the second half, as a scrum inside the Birkenhead 22 gave Carlisle the platform to test the Birkenhead defence.

With a couple of pick and goes repulsed, the ball was fed left for flanker Angus Fulton to break through the defensive line, and go round and under the posts for Carlisle’s fifth try on 47 minutes.

Birkenhead pushed hard from the restart and only some desperate defending kept the visitors out. It was too desperate for the referee who sin-binned first Rory Parish and then Dan Holmes.

Down to 13 men, Carlisle had to put in a shift in defence to keep Birkenhead out, but they managed it.

They turned defence into attack and, as Birkenhead Park struggled to get organised, a deft kick through behind the defence by Shields gave chasing flanker Kyle Lindsay the opportunity to dive on the ball in the left corner for Carlisle’s sixth try.

It was Lindsay who set-up Carlisle’s seventh and last try three minutes from time, as he peeled away from the back of a scrum on halfway, and set-up a ruck 10 metres into the visitors half.

Parish then spotted a gap and, swatting the visitors hooker aside, rampaged up the park, slipping a pass inside to fellow second-rower James Brocket in close support. He had the strength to go over, despite close attention from the last Birkenhead defender.

Birkenhead claimed a consolation try with the last play but it was Carlisle who finished well-deserved victors.