MARTIN Poste said before kick-off he expected to find out new things about his side from a meeting with Burnage.

After 20 minutes, by which time Blacks were 12-0 adrift and looking dishevelled, that list may have made for grim reading.

An hour or so later, when Richard Dale impudently passed a ball through his legs so a gleeful Sam Naylor could touch down the hosts’ fifth try, their director of rugby could be forgiven for striking a line right through it.

These sides were separated by two divisions last season, and it was easy to tell which had been higher-ranked during the early exchanges.

Burnage weren’t brilliant, nor did they need to be.

But they were clinical.

A leg-up helped; the visitors led inside three minutes after converting a penalty try.

They added to that advantage after moving the ball decisively from left to right on 13 minutes, and their outside centre needed no second invitation to dart through a gap in a Northwich defence depleted by the absence of Chris James while he spent time in the bin.

Nick Baldwin’s first penalty attempt on a windy afternoon at Moss Farm drifted wide, but his reliability was restored during two successful attempts in as many minutes midway through the half.

Burnage, who like Northwich had won all three of their North One West fixtures before this one, replied with a three-pointer of their own to establish a 15-6 lead.

Their players urged each other not to let Blacks back into the contest while they waited for the game to restart – a plan that stayed put on paper.

Northwich, who had looked less familiar in gold shirts as well as in performance, saw to that.

They applied pressure, prompting mistakes.

And that was converted to points with the final play of the half when, after recycling possession through a series of phases close to their guests’ line, John Dudley powered over in the corner.

Baldwin could not convert from out wide.

If Northwich supporters were worried the referee’s half-time whistle might interrupt their favourites’ momentum, they need not have been.

On the contrary, the home team put together probably their best 20 minutes of the campaign when play resumed.

Once in front for the first time, after Chris Dale dotted down Naylor’s pass to end a smooth sequence, they proceeded to wear out the opposition.

Baldwin converted, adding a penalty shortly afterwards.

A third try – contested by Burnage players who felt Dudley knocked on in the build-up – arrived on the hour-mark when James stretched to score in the corner.

If Baldwin’s fourth penalty put daylight between the rivals at 29-15, then Chris Dale’s beautifully-timed interception try made the gap too great for fast-fading pursuers to close.

Baldwin’s boot was again reliable.

With a bonus-point came a swagger too, and Dale’s ingenuity to know where Naylor was when lobbing the ball his teammate’s way delighted a sizeable crowd at Moss Farm.

The impact of a defender’s tackle left him winded, but by then it was Burnage that had been blown away.

Northwich can, and will, improve.

But perhaps the biggest lesson Poste learned is his team truly belong at this level.

Northwich | Maddocks, James, Thompson, Heywood, Dudley, Naylor, English, Chris Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Houghton, Reilly, Du Randt, Richard Dale, Barber Replacements Farley, Lindsay, Underhill Tries Dudley, Chris Dale (2), James, Naylor Cons Baldwin (2) Pens Baldwin (4)