A show of desire
Northwich lead and then concede during injury time against Wilmslow
TURNS out history does repeat.
As they did in the return, Northwich surrendered a lead in stoppage time. However the tumble that they took this time around was more painful. Wilmslow led 23-22 at the end of a second-half dominated by Blacks, and appeared on course to record a double.
Full-back Joel Barber then produced a moment of inspiration, accelerating to the visitors’ line with an unstoppable combination of speed and power that is his trademark. It earned for the hosts a deserved bonus point, and Richard Dale successfully converted. However Fortress Moss Farm has been less secure behind the temporary barriers that surround a pitch the first-team has used more often than they would have liked this season. Rather than pull up the drawbridge, they left unguarded a path their guests took to reply instantly. Bob MacCallum converted, and the referee’s final whistle followed.
The joy of Wilmslow’s players jarred, but in Northwich they have found a favoured opponent; four of the past five league meetings between the teams have now gone their way. Blacks had been second-best, and by some distance, before the break.
MacCallum’s penalty left them adrift, although they rallied when Richard Dale scored a fine interception try. On kicking duty in the absence of Nick Baldwin, he landed a conversion too.
MacCallum slotted another three-pointer after Chris Heywood had been sent to the sin bin for not retreating, and the visitors made the most of their numerical advantage. A try was their reward when they moved the ball quickly from right to left, and it was improved upon by their in-form fly-half. His third penalty of the contest – evidence of Blacks’ ill-discipline – made it 16-7 before Dale responded in kind from close-range before the break.
Director of rugby Martin Poste, forced to improvise with a line-up also shorn of Will Du Randt Jonny English and Sam Naylor, demanded of his side a show of desire. They duly delivered, and Bud Skinkis touched down a ball he had jabbed over the whitewash with his right boot after fellow wing Robin Houghton’s pass landed at his feet.
A prolonged spell in Wilmslow territory yielded another try for James Reilly after his teammates had recycled possession when Dale’s brilliant burst ended with him being held up inches short. Wilmslow wilted, but didn’t fall. Instead they were awarded a penalty-try with six minutes left after a rare foray into Northwich territory when Barber’s high tackle interrupted an opponent’s progress. If that was an error of judgement, then he more than made up for it with that stunning solo score.
In between Houghton, on his first start since before Christmas, had fumbled a pass from Dale when he had an unobstructed route to the line. Northwich heads were in hands again before time ran out.
Northwich | Ridgway, Lapniewski, Hulbert, Farley, Dudley, Heywood, Balshaw, Fray, Poste, Reilly, Skinkis, Underhill, Richard Dale, Houghton, Barber Replacements Bailie, Thompson, Jones Tries Richard Dale, Skinkis, Reilly, Barber Cons Richard Dale (3) Pen Richard Dale