Manchester 32 Northwich 33
Manchester 32 Northwich 33
With Will Du Randt and Robin Houghton available Martin Poste was able to select his strongest squad for some time. Full of confidence the blacks travelled to Manchester with the aim of turning over the double defeats from last season. The match turned out to be one for the neutrals as both teams threw caution to the wind and allowed the defenses to be easily breached.
The writing was on the wall within the first minute. The visitors secured the kick off and carried the ball out of the 22. However, at the breakdown the ball was stolen and Manchester went on the counter. Some slick handling caught the blacks napping and the hosts scored an unconverted try in the corner. On the 12th minute Manchester extended their lead with a penalty for not retiring. The pace of the match was such that there was little time to take stock. Eight minutes later an attacking lineout allowed the blacks to attack the Manchester try line, following a series of drives the ball was moved to Joe Maddocks who drove over for an unconverted try. From the re-start Sam Naylor went on a charge. Baldwin moved the ball wide to Barber whose break set Poste on the attack his neat inside pass to Skinkis gave the winger an easy run for the line. Baldwin added the extras and the blacks edged into the lead. This lead was short lived as the hosts replied with two quick penalties. Indiscipline was proving to be a major problem for Northwich as they repeatedly conceded penalties. As the half drew to a close another penalty resulted in a yellow card for Chris Dale and an attacking lineout for the home side. Having secured the ball Manchester moved the ball with confidence and scored an unconverted try in the corner. This provided Manchester with a 7 point advantage going into the break.
The second half started as the first finished when a further penalty gave Manchester the opportunity to attack the Northwich line and after sustained pressure they eventually crossed for another unconverted try with just 3 minutes of the half commencing. The pattern of both sides running the ball from anywhere continued, which must have been frustrating for the coaches. The tide turned on the 50th minute when the blacks won an attacking lineout. They mounted a forward dominated attack on the Manchester try-line with Matt Ensor crossing the line for a converted try. Five minutes later it was the turn of Skinkis to pick up a second try. Baldwin was again successful with the conversion and Northwich regained the lead and secured a try scoring bonus point. The visitors were relentless as they continued to attack. Once again the sustained pressure proved too much and Chris Dale crossed in the corner. Baldwin added the extras and with 20 minutes left things were looking good for the visitors. However, Manchester still had a lot in the tank and penalty with 10 minutes remaining made it a 6 point match and gave the faithful a twitchy time. With 7 minutes remaining the nerves were tested to the max. Manchester scored a try. The vital extras were missed and the remaining minutes played out giving the blacks a one point victory and a sigh of relief that could be heard back in Northwich.
Martin Poste will be delighted with the result but frustrated that the normally solid defence looked in need of shoring up.
Next week Northwich entertain Firwood Waterloo KO 2.15pm
1 Joe Maddocks 2 Mike Gough 3 Ben Ridgeway 4 Chris Heywood 5 Matt Ensor 6 Kyle Lindsay 7 Sam Naylor 8 Chris Dale 9 Matt Poste (Capt) 10 Nick Baldwin 11 Will Du Randt 12 Richard Dale 13 James Underhill 14 Hayden Skinkis 15 Joel Barber 16 Robin Houghton 17 Chris James 18 Adam Bennett