1st XV match report
By john Blower
Firwood v Northwich
Waterloo 20-27 Northwich
JOEL Barber’s third try could be a metaphor for the trajectory of these two teams.
Northwich are leaving Waterloo behind, a prospect that both clubs couldn’t have contemplated three years ago, and with their latest victory pushed the Merseyside outfit closer to the being relegated.
The Northwich full-back picked up a loose ball midway through the second-half before sprinting the length of the pitch to complete a personal treble that put Blacks out of their opponents’ reach.
It stunned a huge home crowd into silence.
Nick Baldwin’s conversion from a mark close to the touchline made it 27-10 and a pair of late tries from the hosts arrived too late.
They have lost all four meetings with Martin Poste’s men since dropping down from the National League, the latest one emphasising a growing distance between them.
Northwich finished nine points, but a single position, above Waterloo last season.
That gap is 15 points after this success but, crucially, there are seven teams between them too.
The Blundellsands club started with the urgency of a side that needed to win and were rewarded when Mark Rylance touched down in the corner after his teammates recycled possession neatly from an attacking lineout.
Daragh O’Brien converted before slotting a penalty after dissent from a visiting player invited him to kick from a position closer to the posts.
Northwich gradually played their way into the contest and Barber won a foot-race to captain Matthew Poste’s kick, assisted by a favourable bounce, after Blacks turned over possession in midfield.
Baldwin was accurate with the conversion.
He added a three-pointer from close-range to restore parity after a Loo player strayed offside.
In control, Northwich established an interval lead their territorial domination merited when Barber surged to the line to end a spell of sustained pressure on Waterloo’s defence.
Baldwin’s kick made it 17-10 at the turnaround.
His second penalty of the afternoon left the home team further adrift before Scott Davidson, facing his former club for the first time since a transfer to Moss Farm last month, was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.
It lifted Loo, but they lacked the nous to make their numerical advantage count.
Instead they floundered as Barber scorched down the left flank before celebrating a brilliant solo score.
Davidson was back on the field when Waterloo created an overlap on the right for wing Lee Ferrier to dot down, a trick they repeated on the opposite flank for Jacob Allen to dive over.
O’Brien failed to convert either try and, jolted but not rattled, Northwich smothered their opponents for the game’s remaining minutes.
They rise to third in the table as a reward.
Northwich | Maddocks, James, Ridgway, Heywood, Clark, Naylor, Balshaw, Williams, Poste, Baldwin, Houghton, Davidson, Richard Dale, Skinkis, Barber Replacements Bennett, Fray, Husband Tries Barber (3) Cons Baldwin (3) Pens Baldwin (2)