Wigan 20 Northwich 27
NORTHWICH did as coach Sam Naylor asked, maintaining momentum from a victory before Christmas to win at Wigan on Saturday.
Blacks, who saw off previously unbeaten table-toppers New Brighton in their final outing before the winter break, secured the points against opponents with seven wins from eight league matches on their own pitch this season.
Naylor’s pre-match instructions appeared to have the desired effect as the men from Moss Farm burst into life, only failing to take an early lead when Chris Dutoy missed a penalty kick.
Despite the visitors’ pressure, Wigan took the lead when scrum half Martin Gambles picked up the ball from the base of a five-metre scum before drifting over the line close to the corner.
Dutoy opened his account for the afternoon midway through the first half with a three-pointer after the hosts were penalised for not releasing the ball.
A first try followed after half an hour, this time when an attacking scrum close to the opposition’s line led to Chris Dale powering over from close range. Dutoy converted.
Gamble kicked a penalty to reduce Wigan’s arrears to two points at 10-8 before Northwich suffered a blow when Richard Dale was forced off with an injury.
His replacement, Daffyd Jones, scored with almost his first touch after Chris Dale again collected the ball following a scrum to start a move finished by the newcomer.
Dutoy once more added the extras for Blacks.
A battle at the start of the second period proved pointless for both teams until Dale drove over the line to extend the visitors’ lead.
Wigan refused to relent, replying through a quickly-taken tap penalty from Peter Rigby which was converted by Sam Heeley.
When Dave Halter forced his way through Blacks’ defence, the hosts had shortened their guests advantage to four points with three minutes left.
However their hopes were dashed when Dutoy kept cool to convert a penalty in the contest’s closing stages.
Northwich Dodd, Kingi, Eaves, Heywood, Smith, Chris Dale, McKibbin, Watts, Davies, Dutoy, Richard Dale, Williams, Chubb, Houghton, Simes. Replacements used Cartman, Jones, Underhill. Tries Chris Dale (2), Jones Cons Dutoy (2). Pens Dutoy (2).