Pete Tong @ Firwood
Despite the second half going Pete Tong this was one of the best preformances of the season. Steve
Firwood Waterloo 7-26 Northwich
THIS is probably the best result delivered by a Northwich team during Martin Poste’s tenure. It certainly felt that way upon hearing the final whistle.
During a first half that yielded three tries, two of them converted by Nick Baldwin to establish a 19-0 interval lead, the visitors’ backs division delighted supporters with glimpses of their fluent best.
In the second, they relied on grit and courage after running out of replacements due to injuries.
They played for a spell with 14 men before sending a stricken James Underhill back onto the field for the closing stages despite the centre having strained a hamstring. And still his side scored again, with it securing a bonus-point, when Bud Skinkis touched down with time running out. The context makes that prize more precious.
Northwich have likely eliminated this rival from a battle to win a promotion play-off place, and moved seven points clear of third-placed Blackburn. Meanwhile saga involving St Benedicts, who have quit North One West following back-to-back postponements of games against Blacks, ended on Friday.
Their record was wiped, sending Waterloo down to sixth. Whether that affected them is unclear. They certainly flailed in the opening period, during which they failed to prevent Joel Barber and Richard Dale from wreaking havoc. However they flirted with the prospect of a recovery, if only fleetingly, when Lee Ferrier went over with 15 minutes left. That possibility faded though, and the frustration that followed was epitomised by the try-scorer’s dismissal for dissent. Not that Northwich cared much. A fortnight’s enforced break appeared to have galvanized them when Barber, following Dale’s initial break, danced up the touchline score inside 10 minutes. The duo combined again for a second try, again claimed by Barber, after Robin Houghton and Underhill had made up ground from Baldwin’s cross-field kick.
The former suffered a dead leg that ended early his involvement, while his replacement Tom Lander succumbed to a knee injury too before the break. Referee Richard Smith then sent Waterloo prop Joe Randa to the sin-bin before Tom King burrowed his way over after Dale darted again towards the line – this time from the back of a scrum – to leave defenders scrambling.
The home team made it easier for Northwich to cope a man down, at least for a spell, when Liam Launders was shown a yellow card early in the second-half. A sustained period of pressure on Waterloo’s defence did not bring with it the points it ought to, and Blacks may have feared that would cost them when Ferrier scored. Tom Booth converted, and at last ‘Loo looked a threat. The reality turned out differently, and Ferrier was forced into a handling error by a Dale tackle in front of the posts that gifted to Skinkis the simplest of scores.
After losing at Moss Farm in November, Waterloo head coach Stuart Turner predicted his side would be near the top of the table by the end of the season. And yet they’re further behind Northwich now than they were then.
Northwich | Ridgway, Lapniewski, King, Dudley, Heywood, English, Balshaw, Richard Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Skinkis, Underhill, Barber, Houghton, Du Randt Replacements Farley, Fray, Lander Tries Barber (2), King, Skinkis Cons Baldwin (3)