Northwich subdue Douglas
A WINNING run goes on.
Northwich will be relieved that a winter break hasn’t halted their momentum.
Nor did a change of surroundings; the first-team pitch at Moss Farm is waterlogged, and Blacks haven’t played on it in two months.
So they switched to another behind the former swimming pool building.
They were not at their best, but treated their supporters to glimpses of it.
And they did so at key moments in the match too.
A spell after half-time, which Martin Poste’s men had reached with a 17-7 advantage, was the decisive one.
It yielded two tries, while Nick Baldwin also landed a penalty, to break their guests’ spirit.
The second of those, scored by full-back Joel Barber, was straight from a page torn out of the Northwich play-book; slick-handling, swift ball movement and a darting run by Richard Dale.
Replacement Kyle Lindsay had smuggled over the first following a drive to the line.
Together those scores ended the contest, and with a half-hour to spare. Poste rotated for the remainder, sending on returning John Dudley and Conor Lapniewski from the bench, and his side relaxed.
They were never in trouble, although late tries for Carl Markl-Ferns and Nic Brooker for the Isle of Man outfit closed a gap on the scoreboard between the teams.
There had been only two points separating them in the North One West table at the start, and Douglas inflicted a first league defeat of the season on Northwich in September.
The hosts started slowly this time around, although they edged in front when Baldwin slotted a penalty after Bryn Snellgrove had narrowly missed one at the other end.
However Douglas earned reward at the end of their first spell of pressure when Snellgrove’s exploited a gap in Blacks’ defence before slipping a pass to Markl-Ferns who touched down.
A successful conversion followed.
Prop Tom King replied for Northwich midway through the opening period, going over from close range after Matthew Poste had tapped a penalty rather than inviting Baldwin to kick.
The stand-off did add extras though, making it 10-7.
Initial rust starting to flake away, the home team found fluency.
Twice they spurned an opportunity when a try seemed certain, both times after Dale had carried the ball at speed deep into opposition territory.
Bud Skinkis knocked on after the second of those, and the wing was left frustrated when Chris Heywood delayed too long sending a pass his way from another attack that promised more than it delivered.
Jonny English was then sent to the sin bin after Douglas had weathered the storm, only for the visitors to gift Northwich a second try shortly before the break.
An attempted clearance from behind their line was weak, and lacked direction, allowing Will Du Randt to charge it down.
He gleefully scampered over, and Baldwin’s conversion gave Blacks breathing space.
And they made sure there was no catching them, with those two tries after the interval, before taking their foot off the gas late on.
After three successive wins against rivals for promotion, and with a game in hand on all of them except for Wilmslow, their position is a desirable one to be in.
Northwich | Hulbert, Thompson, King, Heywood, Farley, English, Balshaw, Richard Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Skinkis, Reilly, Underhill, Du Randt, Barber Replacements Dudley, Lindsay, Lapniewski Tries King, Du Randt, Lindsay, Barber Cons Baldwin (2) Pens Baldwin (2)