Workington suffered their first home defeat for nearly two years as they went down 24 - 17 to fellow North 2 West promotion candidates Burnley in what was a close, tight encounter at The Ellis.
On a dry and sunny, but bitterly cold afternoon, it was the visitors who struck first on 8 minutes when their determined scrummaging paid off with an unconverted try.
The Finches' signature trademark this season has been the ability to hit back as soon as possible and six minutes later they did just that when following their own period of impressive scrums ended with Nicole Stewart ghosting in to go over for her 15th try of the season, though sadly she just fell short with her conversion attempt.
By this time, the game was turning into an evenly poised encounter as both sides displayed attacking surges which were matched by firm and resolute defending. However, on 20 minutes, an uncharacteristic lapse of concentration in the Finches rearguard saw Burnley exploit this and they broke clear to score their 2nd unconverted try.
Once again, Workington quickly regrouped and 4 minutes later they took the lead for the first time as another impressive attack led to captain Charlotte Bowman stubbornly refusing to give up the ball and she was able to fend off attention from several Burnley players on her way to thrusting herself over the whitewash for her 10th try of the season and set up an easy conversion for Stewart.
Despite concerted pressure from Burnley, the Finches managed to close out the first half still two points ahead. However, the second half was barely 3 minutes old when Burnley regained the lead by catching Workington off guard again as they carved their way through to score their 3rd try, which again went unconverted.
The Finches recovered and after patiently probing their opponents, they moved in sharper than a scalpel to draw level on 57 minutes with an unconverted try after Lauren Coulson finished off a well crafted attack to cruise home for her 9th try of the season.
As the minutes ticked by, the atmosphere on the pitch was so intense it could be cut through with a chainsaw as both sides went all out for an important victory to boost their promotion chances.
Then, on 65 minutes, Burnley's pressure paid off when they broke open the Finches' defence to sprint clear and under the posts for their 4th try to set up their 1st conversion.
Workington proceeded to step up a gear and the remainder of the second half saw them lay siege into Burnley territory with endless waves of attacks and several scrums that saw them twice go agonisingly close to the tryline, but they were frustrated by the visitors as they hung on for the points - their elation at the final whistle contrasting sharply with Workington's anguish.
Having been top of North 2 West at the beginning of 2019, Workington suddenly find themselves 3rd - two points behind Burnley and three behind Littleborough, though the Finches have a game in hand and will be hoping to get back on the winning trail when they host Ormskirk on 24th February.
By John Hastings @ The ESG