Northwich 22 New Brighton 0
NEW Brighton can be forgiven for forgetting what it feels like not to score a point in a league game.
Indeed, the previous time it happened was two years ago.
After starting the current campaign with 14 successive wins, they had reason to be confident against opponents still adjusting to life at a lower level after being relegated last term.
Yet Northwich stole nothing to win convincingly at Moss Farm, inflicting a first defeat on the title favourites since April.
With four tries bringing the reward of a bonus point, the calendar year ends on a happier note than it did 12 months earlier.
Blacks adapted better to blustery conditions, though the battle was without a breakthrough in the opening half hour.
Northwich changed that statistic when Chris Dutoy’s chip kick provided an opportunity for full back Richard Dale to collect and score the first try.
A second followed within five minutes, this time when a multi-phase build-up sent Phil Williams driving towards the visitors’ line.
Robin Houghton gathered a recycled ball before dashing over the line to touch down.
The pattern did not deviate after the interval; the home team added to their advantage in the opening exchanges, this time when slick handling, followed by Dutoy’s grubber, forced a lineout deep in New Brighton territory.
Chris Dale emerged from the resulting set piece with ball in hand to cross the whitewash, converted by Dutoy.
Defences dominated again after that, though the hosts notched a bonus point when Chris Dale’s burst forward before supplying a pass inside for Jack Watts to claim a fourth try.
Northwich, beaten in two of their previous three matches following a sequence of six wins from seven after losing to New Brighton in the return game in September, continue to occupy eighth position in the South Lancs/Cheshire Division One standings.
They play next at fifth-placed Wigan in the New Year.
Northwich Cairns, Kingi, Eaves, Heywood, Smith, Chris Dale, McKibbin, Watts, Houghton, Dutoy, Elliott, Campbell, Williams, Chubb, Richard Dale. Replacements Simes, Cartman, Jones. Tries Richard Dale, Houghton, Chris Dale, Watts. Con Dutoy.