NORTHWICH are entering a crucial period in their campaign after a fortnight without a game, but Martin Poste insists his side won’t be under-cooked.

They sit fourth in North One West, and play the three teams above them in the standings in successive weeks before Christmas.

First up is a trip to Stockport on Saturday.

Blacks were denied a chance to go there buoyed by a victory when a scheduled meeting last weekend with back-markers St Benedicts was called off.

“A fresh team can be a dangerous one,” said the director of rugby.

“I’ll find out what mood my boys are in during training on Thursday, and I expect them to be at it.

“They’ve had a while to stew after we lost at Wilmslow last time out, although at the time I wanted to get that game out of our system as soon as possible.

“Now I’m persuaded that a breather might have helped.”

He has James Underhill available again after the centre, who sustained a head injury against Firwood Waterloo last month, completed a runout for the seconds.

Prop Ben Ridgway benefitted too from more time on the field as he seeks to recapture full-fitness following knee surgery.

Fly-half Nick Baldwin is back after a break as well.

Poste said: “Stockport is a difficult place to go, and they’ll be smarting after losing at an in-form Warrington.

“They’ll catch-and-drive, and try to execute a game-plan that is very much based around their forwards.”

“That’s an area we’ve improved in, which is remarkable when you consider we’ve had to rebuild an entirely new front-row.”