Northwich 34 Birkenhead Park 40
First blood to the visitors
Northwich were hoping the New Year would provide the opportunity to make amends for the defeat by Warrington and get back to winning ways. However, Birkenhead Park had other ideas and were once again victors in a high scoring match. Martin Poste was encouraged to select from strength and was delighted to welcome Phil Williams back to the fold along with Martin Balshaw from an extended absence.
It was the visitors who drew first blood after only 5 minutes. Having been awarded a penalty they opted for an attacking lineout and following a well drilled maul crossed for an unconverted try. The response from the blacks was positive and they went on the attack. After a superb build up involving the whole team Barber joined the line ad delivered a disguised pass to man of the match Richard Dale who scored an unconverted try. Two Baldwin penalties provided the home side with a lead at the 20 minute mark. On the 27th minute it was Dale again on hand to provide the magic. He won a turnover and quickly sent Poste on the attack his long pass to Skinkis provide the easiest of run ins to score. Baldwin added the extras and the blacks looked in control. The blacks seem to falter whenever they score and this was no exception. On the half hour another conceded penalty gave the visitors and an attacking line out. In a carbon copy of the first score the well drilled forwards scored from a driving maul and the extras kept them very much in the game. Another Baldwin penalty gave the home side a 21-12 lead at the break.
The second half started positively for the blacks until a missed pass was pounced on by BP and they went on the attack. Following a multi-phased build up a gap appeared and a fine try was scored and the extras added. On the 50th minute a Baldwin penalty seemed to steady the ship. Birkenhead Park were not done and were moving into the ascendency. Two converted tries on the 54thand 65th minutes wrestled the lead from the blacks and the match began to slip. However with 10minutes remaining Dale again stole a ball and made a telling break to deliver a try scoring pass to Skinkis. Baldwin added the extras and we had a 2point match. A couple of minutes later a fracas resulted in a player from each team taking a ten minute rest. A penalty was reversed and Baldwin put the blacks in the lead. It looked like the home side could succeed but BP had other ideas and continued to press and with just 4 minutes left on the clock a gap opened up and BP finished the scoring with a converted try.
This was a fine match with both Coaches concerned about he number of basic errors. Although the blacks were downhearted there was encouragement in a much improved performance against a very strong BP outfit.
Next week Northwich entertain Burnage KO 2.15pm
1 Joe Maddocks 2 Mike Gough 3 Joe Laddle 4 Chris Heywood 5 Matt Ensor 6 Chris James 7 Tom Clark 8 Phil Williams 9 Matt Poste (Capt) 10 Nick Baldwin 11 Will du Randt12 Richard Dale13 James Underhill 14 Hayden Skinkis 15 Joel Barber 16 Martin Balshaw 17 Ben Ridgeway 18 Sam Naylor