Silent assassins shine for Northwich
By john Blower
Heywood & Reilly
NORTHWICH did what they had to but the ends were made by uncharacteristically messy means.
However it would be harsh to criticise too much a display that delivered half-a-dozen tries, and Blacks must now wait to see if Wilmslow – the only side that can deny them a promotion play-off place – beat newly-crowned champions Vale of Lune. If they do, then a superior points difference will secure for them the runners-up spot in North One West.
Chris Heywood characterized the game of rugby union once again, all season he has displayed exemplary line out qualities and a viciousness in the tackle, once more proving himself a major stumbling block for the visiting opposition. There is no doubt that the blacks game has always been influenced by another stalwart of the team of the town, namely Jim Reilly has been noted for his salient characteristics From his earliest arrival in the team to the present he displays defensive or offensive tactics and has contributed an outstanding contribution week in week out, creating the space for Barber & Skinkis to shine as the teams finishers.
The first-half against Rochdale, opponents that had long since had their relegation confirmed, was closer than those gathered to watch in the sunshine had anticipated. Sam Naylor’s clever kick invited Will Du Randt to touch down in the corner in the eighth minute, and Nick Baldwin added the extras. However Northwich were punished immediately for a risky pass when a visiting wing intercepted before sprinting to the line. Ollie Coldman converted, making it 7-7.
Dale continued to hold their own for the opening half-hour, helped by carelessness in possession from their hosts as they too often tried in a hurry to move the ball wide. A stroke of luck favoured Blacks when Baldwin gathered a ball that bounced favourably before darting between the posts. He landed a simple conversion, although daylight didn’t appear between the teams on the scoreboard until Joel Barber charged through a gap in the visitors’ defence created by Baldwin’s pass. However the stand-off’s error at the other end led to a turnover from which Rochdale engineered their second try.
Perhaps with the words of director of rugby Martin Poste still ringing in their ears, Northwich made sure of a bonus-point for a fourth try claimed by wing Bud Skinkis within five minutes of the restart.
Baldwin was shown a yellow card after an hour for deliberately knocking on, and Barber left the field shortly afterwards holding an injured shoulder. Richard Dale distracted attention from those concerns though when he carried the ball from inside the home team’s territory to the line with a blistering run. Sam Naylor, filling in on the wing in the absence of injured Robin Houghton, then glided to the line to become his side’s sixth different try-scorer.
At 38-12, they tried to cruise to the finish. However Rochdale weren’t finished and added two tries – converting the first – in added time to give the result a more reflective feel. Perhaps Blacks’ attention had by then already drifted towards Wilmslow.
Northwich | Ridgway, Lapniewski, King, Dudley, Farley, Heywood, James, Richard Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Skinkis, Reilly, Barber, Sam Naylor, Du Randt Replacements Lindsay, Fray, Hulbert Tries Du Randt, Baldwin, Barber, Skinkis, Richard Dale, Sam Naylor Cons Baldwin (4)