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REPORT: Closing in on promotion
Ruskin Park 12 Northwich 26
FORMER first team captain Chris James touched down twice to help Northwich climb to their highest position in the table to date this season.
Blacks, now in their best run of results after four successive wins, move to fourth – within five points of a promotion play-off place – as a reward.
And James, returning to the fold after almost a year away, was in inspirational mood.
He was on hand to score after a successful attacking lineout acted as catalyst for a move that involved both backs and forwards, helping the visitors to establish a 12-0 interval lead in a contest being played for a second time following an abandonment in November.
The Moss Farm men had broken through earlier when Richard Dale’s break following a scrum ended with an offload to full back Dorian Simes.
He kicked on for Jack Watts to ground the ball for the contest’s opening score, Chris Dutoy adding the extras.
James, after scoring in the seconds before the interval, played a part in the move that led to a third Northwich try, building on a foundation laid by Dean Kingi to send in Dale for the afternoon’s most attractive try.
Dutoy’s conversion made it 19-0.
Ruskin rallied though, putting their first points on the board when a scrum ball was fed to Adam Fogarty, whose neat side-step was followed by an offload for Gary Smith who touched down.
They closed the gap further when, following a series of quickly-taken penalties, Michael O’Keeffe notched another try.
Fogarty added the extras for the hosts.
From the restart Northwich, under concerted pressure for the first time, engineered a defensive lineout five metres from the hosts’ line.
An error from the set play gifted Blacks a scrum from which star turn Ryan McKibbin collected.
The visitors’ forwards maintained his momentum until James applied the finishing touch a yard from the whitewash to cap an impressive individual performance.
Dutoy kicked a third conversion to settle the outcome, putting the seal on back-to-back away victories for the first time this term.
Northwich Dodd, Kingi, Cairns, Heywood, Farley, James, McKibbin, Watts, Davies, Dutoy, Jones, Williams, Chubb, Richard Dale, Simes. Replacements Cartman, Elliott, Underhill. Tries James (2), Watts, Richard Dale. Cons Dutoy (3).