Douglas 6 Northwich 18
THEY made it, just about.
Northwich secured a promotion play-off place after their latest victory.
The win, against Douglas, was the latest in a sequence of a dozen – though a five-hour flight delay almost led to them missing kick off.
Standing water on the playing surface presented a challenge too, but Blacks overcame every obstacle to remain on course for a return to a higher level at the first attempt following relegation last season.
A winner-takes-all match awaits at the end of the month against an opponent to be decided.
Richard Dale’s penalty edged the men from Moss Farm in front, the catalyst for a period of pressure that was rewarded with a try.
Dorian Simes dashed forward from full back after collecting the ball, off-loading to Richard Dale who sprinted past two would-be tacklers to touch down.
Douglas reduced the deficit with a penalty of their own after Jack Watts was sent to the sin bin as punishment for a dump tackle.
Another three-pointer followed during the initial exchanges after the interval, reducing Northwich’s lead. The visitors replied quickly.
A scrum in the home team’s 22 gave Chris Dale a chance to drive for the line and, when he was tackled, possession was quickly switched to replacement Steve Campbell.
He stepped inside before crossing the whitewash.
After an hour, Northwich made sure of victory when Campbell pinched the ball after an opponent spilled it, feeding Richard Dale to claim his second score of the contest.
Sam Naylor’s men had needed a bonus point victory to make certain of second spot behind New Brighton, but news of defeat for closest rivals Anselmians made even that unnecessary.
A head-to-head with the side that finishes as runner-up in North Lancs/Cumbria, currently Bolton with one match of the campaign to go, is their reward.
Northwich Cartman, James, Kingi, Heywood, Smith, Watts, Chris Dale, McKibbin, Davies, Underhill, Naylor, Richard Dale, Chubb, Houghton, Simes. Replacements Campbell, Farley, Cairns. Tries Richard Dale (2), Campbell. Pen Richard Dale.