NORTHWICH Rugby Club’s winning streak came to an end with the first game of the new year when they were beaten 23-19 by promotion hopefuls Rossendale at Moss Farm.

The Blacks led by six points entering the final 10 minutes but a combination of unforced errors and ill-discipline cost them a deserved but unlikely victory over a very strong and highly ambitious Rossendale.

Director of rugby Martin Poste said “I’m gutted that we lost a game we should have won but we were up against a very big, strong powerful side and we competed against them for practically the whole game.”

He added: “But let’s not forget how far we have come since August and I still believe this squad is capable of surprising a few teams in this league.”

Leading 19-13 Northwich were punished when two sloppy facets of play resulted in the visitors amassing 10 points in the closing stages.

A red card for an illegal tackle by prop Matt Lafeta did not help Northwich’s cause at a crucial time.

Despite being down to 14 men, Northwich still had the ability to see the game out but a clearance penalty which failed to find touch and allowed the Lancastrians to launch another assault on the home defence led to a converted try.

Northwich were further punished after the ball was touched down over their own try line, and a fluffed drop out which barely got off the ground was swiftly retrieved and led to a drop goal which completed the scoring.

Northwich opened the scoring within two minutes via a penalty from the reliable boot of skipper Nick Baldwin but Rossendale scored a converted try minutes later through No. 9 Rob Willet and converted by Lewis Allen who landed a penalty a few moments later.

Undeterred Northwich hit back with another Baldwin penalty before scoring a brilliantly executed try when Tom White turned over Rossendale possession, Liam Batt fed his half back partner Baldwin who put in a delicious chip behind the opposition’s defence for winger Tom Husband to gather at pace. He was tackled 15 metres short of the line by the last defender but great support play and quick play the ball saw Husband race in to the corner. Baldwin landed a superb conversion from the right hand touch line to give his side a 13-10 lead.

Shortly after, Baldwin added his third penalty to give the home side a 16-10 advantage at the break.

The first 20 minutes of the second period saw play ebb and flow from both sides who each exchanged penalties for the scoreboard to read 19-13 in Northwich’s favour, leading into the final acts of drama.

However, a red card reduced Northwich to 14 men with under 10 minutes remaining but Rossendale failed to capitalise on the extra player and when they were penalised for not releasing the tackle, the home crowd could be forgiven for thinking that by kicking for touch, having the throw in at the lineout, and hopefully a sustained period of possession would see the game out.

The ensuing kick failed to find touch and Rossendale launched a counter attack. Northwich did defend strongly and managed to get the ball into touch inside their 22 metre area. Rossendale threw well at the lineout, and a series of drives to the Northwich was rewarded when replacement back Keiran Dunne strolled through for a try, the conversion by Allen giving the visitors a one-point lead.

Entering the final three minutes of the game, another missed clearance kick by Blacks was returned to the Northwich in-goal area where a home player touched down for a drop out from behind their own line. However, the rushed attempt hardly got off the ground and Rossendale returned closely to the Northwich line before Allen kicked a drop goal to give his side a four point advantage.

Northwich still had one last throw of the dice and came close to snatching an unlikely win until a spilled ball allowed Rossendale to clear their lines to secure victory.

Meanwhile, Winnington Park were defeated 37-30 at fourth-placed Birkenhead Park following a month of inactivity due to poor weather and the festive break.

South African teenage debutant Evan Boucher scored a great try in a solid performance off the bench.

Boucher’s score saw Park only trailing 17-16 at the interval but 17 unanswered points conceded in the third quarter left Park with a mountain to climb.

Park got a break through BP indiscipline and the field position laid the platform for the start of a comeback.

After s couple of penalties and the forwards being kept out, the ball was spun out allowing Benny Elliot to feed Charlie Hyde who came off his right wing to score a converted try.

A forward pass by BP gave Park the opportunity to attack from the scrum on the 10-metre line.

Charlie Hyde fixed his right-wing marker and passed back inside to Elliot for a converted try that cut the gap to four points going into the last 10 minutes.

Indiscipline from Park gave away a penalty and BP slotted a long-range kick to complete the scoring.