NORTHWICH continue, even now, to have the ability to surprise.
That is a sincere compliment.
Blacks have beaten Birkenhead Park twice this term, although Monday afternoon's success in the Cheshire RFU Vase final was more emphatic.
It means they end the campaign, already a success after finishing in the top three on their return to North One West, with another piece of silverware.
Will Du Randt’s second-half hat-trick settled the outcome at Crewe & Nantwich.
However the foundation for victory had been laid earlier on.
Park put the first points on the board when they kicked a penalty inside three minutes, but they did not lead for long.
Chris Heywood drove over at the other end after Northwich had won a lineout, although Nick Baldwin could not add the extras.
Blacks added to their advantage shortly afterwards when, following another lineout, Matthew Poste fed Sam Naylor.
He side-stepped into space before passing to Kyle Lindsay, and the hooker did the rest.
Baldwin’s kick made it 12-3 to Northwich.
Their grip on the game was firmer still after half an hour.
Richard Dale’s forward burst ended with him moving the ball to Lindsay, and he off-loaded neatly for Naylor to add a finishing flourish.
Baldwin’s successful kick established a 19-3 lead by the break.
The next 40 minutes belonged to Du Randt, and the first of his three scores arrived quickly.
Naylor’s break led to possession being switched from right to left for prop Mike Bradshaw, who charged towards the whitewash.
After he had been tackled just short, Du Randt darted over.
His next try, on the hour, was the highlight.
Poste made up ground following a scrum before James Reilly and Joel Barber joined the attack.
The latter fed Du Randt, who chipped the ball over his opposite number before catching it again without breaking stride.
Baldwin’s kick struck an upright.
Park scored their only try to close the gap, but their best spell of pressure was punctured when Du Randt gathered Poste’s clearance kick before weaving to the line.
This time Baldwin’s boot was reliable, and Northwich’s name was on the cup.
Northwich | Thompson, Lindsay, Mike Bradshaw, Dudley, Smith, Heywood, Naylor, Richard Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Skinkis, Underhill, Reilly, Du Randt, Barber Replacements Chris Bradshaw, Collins, Chris Dale, Keller, Brown, Bates, Harrison Tries Heywood, Lindsay, Naylor, Du Randt (3) Cons Baldwin (3)
Northwich's jubilant players celebrate after winning the Cheshire RFU Vase final against Birkenhead Park at Crewe and Nantwich on Saturday. Picture: Ken Houghton