NORTHWICH Rugby Club secured their second win of the campaign when a resolute and disciplined defensive display saw them beat high-flying Sandbach 17-13 in front of a large crowd at Moss Farm on Saturday.

The hard-earned victory moves Northwich to a respectable position in the table and director of rugby Martin Poste is expecting similar performances and results in the forthcoming weeks.

He said: “I thought we were superb.

“The work that forwards coach Steve Dorrington is doing on the training pitch on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and the drills head coach Sammy Naylor puts his squad through is beginning to pay dividends.

“And the most exciting thing is that I, Steve and Sammy all agree that members of this squad have room to improve further and are capable of being more competitive in all aspects to the game.

“We will be giving a lot of teams some very close encounters in the weeks and months ahead.”

The visitors established a 6-3 lead with two penalties by Will Cargill and a response from Northwich skipper Nick Baldwin.

Blacks number eight Rich Dale suffered a knock just before the break and it saw the introduction in the second period of recent recruit from South Africa Andre Nel and he immediately imposed his physicality around the park.

Along with the rest of the pack, aided by determined defensive duties of the backs, Northwich competed with the visitors in all areas of the pitch.

Sandbach had the majority of the play but couldn’t find a way through the Black defensive line and Northwich had to be contented with a few scraps of possession.

The home side scored 14 unanswered points against the run of play through two converted tries from Tom Husbands and Ethyn Martin for an unlikely 17-3 scoreline midway through the second period.

First Northwich try came with an impressive passing move eventually found Chalkie White out wide on the right and the powerful lock dummied before going through a gap in the Sandbach defence and a perfectly timed pass to supporting speedster Tom Husbands to score unopposed, Baldwin adding the extras.

After the opening try, Sandbach had the majority of plays but Northwich defence stood firm.

Blacks eventually succeeded in turning over several drives to the line and the pressure was relieved when centre Martin Austen kicked down field only to be challenged late and a penalty was awarded near the halfway line.

A Sandbach player dissented the decision and the visitors were marched back 10 metres. A quick tap went right, and a pass back in the other direction went awry but full back Ethyn Martin collected the loose ball and scampered unopposed to cross the Sandbach line, Baldwin adding the extras.

Shocked Sandbach were having no success in breeching the Northwich line and couldn’t even find a way through when the home side were reduced to 12 men following yellow cards being shown to both props.

It meant pack leader White moving to prop and the ensuing uncontested scrums resulted in Northwich having to forfeit an additional player.

But instead of passing to their backs for the gaping overlap, Sandbach opted to pick and drive, straight into the waiting and determined Northwich tacklers.

When parity was restored, a scrum near the Northwich line led to a converted Sandbach try from full back James Preston despite the attentions of three Northwich players to complete the scoring.

There were still eight minutes of normal time remaining, plus any additional time to be decided by the referee, and the home faithful were praying that Blacks wouldn’t throw away potential victory in the closing stages.

As it transpired, Northwich dug deep and defended defiantly eventually gaining a penalty near their try line which enabled Baldwin to tap the ball and kick it dead for a heroic victory.

Next up for the resurgent Blacks is a trip to Stockport, who lost to Manchester last weekend, and is a match which will probably give Poste an indication of how much progress his team has made recently.