Stockport score seven tries to condemn Northwich to defeat
GIVEN the windy conditions, it is tempting to say Northwich were blown away by their hosts. They certainly looked weather-beaten at the end when they were a man down following Martin Balshaw’s dismissal and unable to contest scrums with two injured props watching from the dugout. After four defeats in first six matches, there is work to do and confidence to restore. Not all of the damage was inflicted by a Stockport storm though.
They drove a maul to the line after quarter of an hour before repeating the trick, this time following a scrum, to add to their advantage. Baldwin’s penalty attempt struck a post when Blacks had a brief moment of respite in Port territory before the hosts’ number eight broke from the back of another scrum touch down. McGovern’s conversion made it 24-7, and Northwich couldn’t keep it that way until the interval.
The hosts led 24-7 in first-half stoppage time, and even one or two of their own supporters wondered aloud if that was a big enough advantage after spending almost all of the opening period in their opponents’ half. After all, their favourites had almost squandered a 33-7 lead on the same pitch against Anselmians three weeks earlier.
Blacks erred though, Tom Clark conceding a penalty that saw him sent to the sin-bin before Port pushed over a fourth try from the resulting scrum in front of the posts. It felt costly, and was.
Richard Dale dotted down after a spell of pressure close to the hosts’ line following Clark’s return, and Nick Baldwin’s conversion reduced a deficit to 31-14. Richard Sackville-West dashed to the corner at the other end five minutes later to deal a blow to Blacks’ hopes of a recovery, and they vanished when Balshaw struck an opponent in retaliation and was shown a red card.
Stockport scored twice more in quick succession afterwards, Liam McGovern converting on both occasions, and Northwich briefly risked real humiliation. They restored pride, aided by the home team coasting to the finish, when Matt Ensor claimed his first try for the club since arriving in England from New Zealand. Baldiwin improved it, then encouraged Bud Skinkis to win a foot-race with full-back Rhodri Mayor with a clever cross-field kick. The wing man prevailed too.
By then a try for Joel Barber, gliding through the defence following Chris Dale’s initial charge, in response to McGovern’s early penalty felt a long time ago. Once Stockport had steadied themselves, they made the most of a strong tailwind – and their superior physical force – to maximum effect.
Northwich | Maddocks, Gough, Bennett, Ensor, Naylor, Clark, Balshaw, Richard Dale, Houghton, Baldwin, Husband, Underhill, Chris Dale, Skinkis, Barber Replacements Ridgway, Wood, James Tries Barber, Richard Dale, Ensor, Skinkis Cons Baldwin (3)