1 Stunning September a reason to be optimistic

Northwich always start seasons slowly.

So often has that been the case in recent years, it’s almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Since storming to the South Lancs/Cheshire Division One title in 2007, Blacks have only once reached the end of September unbeaten.

Until now that is.

When they most recently reeled off successive wins during a campaign’s opening month, in 2012, they ended up fourth in North One West.

Their return to step six appeared tricky, with three fixtures against sides that finished in the table’s top half last term before a fourth pitted them against Burnage – who were playing in the National League this time 12 months ago.

Martin Poste’s men saved their most convincing performance so far for a visit from the latter on Saturday, overturning an interval deficit to claim maximum points.

Match report: Northwich 41-15 Burnage

2 When asked a question, Northwich provided an answer

Burnage outplayed their hosts for the opening 20 minutes at the weekend, establishing a 12-0 lead.

A disputed penalty try helped them there, but few at Moss Farm would argue the away side did not start the contest more brightly.

And Northwich, victors in each of their previous 24 league matches since last October, are not used to being behind.

A try from veteran John Dudley in first-half stoppage time, a reward for a strong finish to the opening period, was a crucial psychological blow.

Within three minutes of the restart after the interval, the home team edged ahead when captain Chris Dale dotted down.

They did not look back, running in 30 unanswered points.

Burnage, who had been expected to give Martin Poste’s side a stern examination, were the ones wearing flummoxed expressions by the finish.

That turnaround was symbolised by Blacks’ final try, when wing Richard Dale improvised a pass between his legs to send in Sam Naylor.

3 Harder, faster, stronger

In an interview with the Guardian at the end of last season Mike Donnan, fitness trainer for Northwich, warned Blacks they would face a tougher physical challenge this time around.

On their way to the titl, they regularly overpowered sides before coasting to the final whistle.

They will not be afforded that luxury at a higher level.

However the early evidence is their reserves of stamina and strength can be a match for any opponent in North One West.

Indeed, Northwich have scored 75 points in the second period of their four fixtures to date – comfortably more than half.

It was telling at the weekend that Burnage wilted visibly.

At 29-15 down with around 20 minutes left, they could consider themselves still in contention.

However a fine interception try by Chris Dale seemed to drain them of remaining energy.

Northwich Guardian:

Veteran John Dudley charges towards the line to score Northwich's first try against Burnage at Moss Farm on Saturday. Picture: Ken Houghton

4 Have Northwich surpassed expectation?

John Dudley, scorer of a crucial try before the break that was a catalyst for Northwich’s comeback, urged his teammates afterwards to have more self-belief.

Beating opponents who played two levels higher last season will certainly help.

Blacks are back in North One West after four years away, while only Dave Farley, Chris Heywood and Sam Naylor from Saturday’s starting line-up were on the field for their most recent fixture at step six – a 23-22 win against Burton in April 2013.

Put simply, it was always going to be difficult to gauge strength relative to their rivals in the first few weeks of the season.

The next three matches will make the picture clearer still.

A trip to West Park, promoted along with Northwich from South Lancs/Cheshire Division One at the end of last term after winning a play-off, follows this weekend.

St Benedicts, the only side to beat Blacks so far in 2016, play host seven days later.

After that, Kirby Lonsdale – runners-up to Kendal last year, will be next to visit Moss Farm.

5 Fortress Moss Farm remains intact

Altrincham Kersal left town as 25-14 victors on December 13, 2014.

Since that wintry afternoon, Northwich have won 20 of 21 league matches played in front of their own supporters.

Fly-half James Underhill told the Guardian last season that there’s no secret to that success.

“We just feel comfortable playing here,” he said.

The crowd played their part on Saturday, although the players’ performance on the pitch buoyed them rather than the other way around.

If Northwich are to contend for successive promotions, then they will need to count on a formidable home record again.

The early signs are encouraging.

After an opening-day success at Vale of Lune, director of rugby Martin Poste asked for three successive home wins to give his side momentum ahead of a testing October.

“We need to make the most of our track while it’s in good nick,” he said.

They’ve delivered, and then some.