A DEFEAT for Northwich, their first on home turf against these opponents, but no regrets.

If this game was a marker of how far they are from a side considered to be North One West champions-elect, Blacks should feel encouraged.

They threw everything at the league’s best defence after the interval.

It did not bring a dividend though, and the score at half-time remained unchanged.

Director of rugby Martin Poste was boosted by the return to duty of Sam Naylor, Richard Dale and James Underhill after they missed last weekend’s last-gasp victory against Altrincham Kersal.

However they were playing catch-up from the moment Vale of Lune were awarded a penalty-try inside the opening five minutes.

Stand-off Jack Turton made a clean break before Evan Stewart’s burst towards the line was halted by a tackle deemed by referee Robert Sheard to have been too high.

It acted as a jolt to the home team, and their response earned a reward when full-back Joel Barber touched down on the right at the end of a sustained period of pressure.

The try went unconverted.

Northwich continued to push for more points, but their attacks were repelled by disciplined opponents.

And the Lancaster-based visitors were clinical when they had an opportunity to attack.

They notched what turned out to be a match-clinching try shortly before the interval after Sam Wallbank claimed the ball at a lineout.

Jonty Higgin’s break followed before he delivered an inviting pass for Fergus Owens to cruise over the whitewash.

The second-half followed a similar pattern to the first, although Northwich gradually pushed back their guests.

They tried without success to find a way through, and frustration boiled over when Nick Baldwin and Martin Balshaw spent time in the sin-bin.

Despite losing, their side still collected a bonus-point that propels them from fourth to second in the standings.

A trip to Firwood Waterloo, who trail Blacks on points-difference having played one more game, follows next weekend.

Kick-off is at 4pm.

Northwich | Ridgway, Lapniewski, Hulbert, Heywood, Dudley, Naylor, Balshaw, Richard Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Skinkis, Reilly, Underhill, Du Randt, Barber Replacements Thompson, Farley, Bailie Try Barber 

Match report by Steve Wood