The crowd held their breath
Birkenhead Park 35 Northwich 34
Birkenhead Park 35 Northwich 34
This was not a match for the faint hearted. With more twists than a Scandinavian crime novel no one could possibly predict the outcome. At the end of the contest the travelling support felt sense of déjà vu as they were unable to overturn the BP lead in exactly the same way our previous visit ended.
Martin Poste welcomed the return of Robin Houghton and Will Du Randt as well as Chris Dale and Chris James who supported from the bench.
The first 25 minutes belonged to the visitors who looked lively in attack. The first try came from a lineout, big carries from Ridgeway and Clark provided quick ball fro Baldwin to cross-field kick allowing Skinkis to open the account with an unconverted try on the 10 minute mark. On the 24th minute some great work from Richard Dale and Skinkis forced an attacking lineout close to the BP line. The forwards made a number of drives for the line before the ball was released to Baldwin whose miss pass found Houghton who scored an unconverted try in the corner. It was at this point the home side took control. With just 10 minutes of the half remaining BP scored three converted tries without reply. The home sides set piece provided plenty of ball for the ambitious backs to work with and the Blacks couldn’t find an answer. At the break BP had established a 21-10 lead.
The second half continued with BP in the ascendancy. On the 48th minute the Blacks lost a lineout close to the line and the powerful home pack needed no second invitation and drove across the line. Ten minutes later a Northwich were awarded a scrum 5 meters from their try-line. A well timed shove stole the ball for BP and the number 8 picked up to cross the line. Both tries were converted. The response was swift and emphatic. On the 65th minute after some great approach work Richard Dale finally got his just desserts with an unconverted try. From the restart the Blacks went on the attack showing great flair and pace Tom Clark crossed the line. Baldwin converted and faithful knew that they would at least get a bonus point. However, two minutes later another fine score, this time from Will Du Randt gave the faithful reason to believe. Baldwin converted and reduced the deficit to just 6 points. As the match drew to a close there was still a twist in store. From an attacking scrum the ball was moved wide to Houghton went over for his second try. As Baldwin approach the kick the crowd held its breath before seeing the kick go wide. A scrum from the restart gave BP the chance to get the ball of the park and finish this thrilling contest.
Although the defeat will disappoint the coaching team they will be please with many aspects of the match, In particular the performances of Clark, Ensor, Ridgeway and Lapniewski who were all tireless in their efforts.
Next week Northwich travel to Burnage KO 3.00pm
1 Joe Maddocks 2 Conor Lapniewski 3 Ben Ridgeway 4 Chris Heywood 5 Matt Ensor 6 Martin Balshaw 7 Tom Clark 8 Richard Dale 9 Matt Poste (Capt) 10 Nick Baldwin 11 Robin Houghton 12 Joel Barber 13 James Underhill 14 Hayden Skinkis 15 Will Du Randt 16 Adam Bennett 17 Chris James 18 Chris Dale