NORTHWICH Rugby Club's first XV missed out on back-to-back victories when they controversially lost 40-37 at home to Manchester on Saturday.

An inexplicable period of added time resulted in Manchester grabbing a winning try at the death, a week after Northwich's historic first win at Regional One North West level against Macclesfield.

As a result of the late winner, Northwich’s only consolation for their hard-fought endeavours was the award of two bonus points from scoring four tries and being within a score of their victorious opponents.

Spectators, club officials and players were baffled from the seven minutes of added time in the first half which was followed by the decisive score in the eighth minute of added time in the second period, especially with both teams’ physios being largely inactive throughout the whole afternoon.

Another concern for director of rugby Martin Poste and his coaching staff is for the third game in a row Northwich conceded three late tries.

Manchester controlled the opening stages and assembled a 14-0 lead through two converted tries.

Northwich hooker Mike Gough barged his way over the whitewash midway through the first half with skipper Nick Baldwin slotting over the conversion to halve the deficit.

However, the visitors hit back almost immediately with a try in the corner.

Northwich then took command and scored 17 unanswered points courtesy of converted tries from powerhouse prop Matt Lafeta and winger Willi Du Randt, with Baldwin also adding a penalty to give his side a five-point lead at the interval.

Baldwin added a further penalty to put Blacks 27-19 in front.

Manchester slowly found a way back though, scoring a converted try to reduce the arrears to a single point.

Northwich responded with Baldwin slotting a drop goal following a period of controlled possession.

The home side then established what appeared to be an unassailable lead when replacement scrum-half Liam Batt lofted a high kick which Manchester collected and tried to run out of defence, but a monster tackle from Austen forced the visitors to spill the ball allowing Tom Clarke to hack the loose ball towards the try line and he eventually gathered the bouncing ball to crash over the whitewash. Baldwin’s conversion gave Northwich a deserved 37-26 lead with six minutes of normal time remaining.

Manchester raised their game and kept driving at the Blacks defence to eventually be rewarded with a converted try in the 79th minute.

With the score standing at 37-34 in Northwich’s favour, it was going to be a very intense last couple of minutes with the referee awarding several kickable penalties but the visitors instead opted for scrums in search of at least five points.

After eight minutes of gruelling defending, Blacks' defensive wall was finally and cruelly breeched when the visitors’ outside centre found a gap in the Northwich defence to cross the line, with the successful conversion being a mere formality.

Northwich: Matt Lafeta, Mike Gough, Rory Leijdekkers, Tom Clarke, Chris Heywood, Aaron Collins, Richard Dale, Tom White, Richard Hart, Nick Baldwin, Martin Austen, Joel Barber, Willi Du Randt, Tom Husband, Ehtyn Martin, Liam Batt, Josh Warburton, Aaron Smith.