New Brighton 10 Nuneaton 34
Nuneaton started the year as they ended the old - unbeaten league leaders - after coming from behind to obtain a convincing victory over struggling New Brighton and with a bonus point to boot from their try-scoring second half.
In dismal heavy rain but, unusually, no influential wind from the nearby sea, New Brighton began at a furious pace, which they could not sustain later, and were ten points up by the 27th minute.
Scrum-half Alan Hesketh shot from the base of an attacking ruck for a try between the posts, fly-half Steve Dean converting and adding a penalty before counterpart Gareth Cull likewise landed a 37th-minute penalty for Nuns.
Cull, normally reliable, did not have one of his better goal-kicking days, missing one penalty in front of the posts and converting only three of Nuns' five second-half tries, the first of which came three minutes after the interval.
Nuns put together a succession of forward drives, culminating in a rolling maul from which flanker Ian Critchley broke over. Cull's conversion brought the scores level and the visitors became increasingly dominant up front.
They took play through six phases before full-back Jody Peacock picked an incisive line between the home centres for their second try, then another rolling maul ended in No 8 Ben Toleafoa crashing over.
The bonus point was secured when John Munro, returning from injury as substitute for Critchley, emulated him by scoring from a maul. Peacock got his second try after forwards' inter-passing and an astute feed by hooker Carl Southwell.
The battle between two of Nuns' closest pursuers in the race for automatic promotion was edged 21-20 by Bradford & Bingley at Blaydon. Nuns have to meet both those sides twice this spring.