MARTIN Poste believes Northwich have come through the most testing spell of his tenure as a more resilient team.

Blacks won only one of their first six league games this season, losing four of those, but have recovered to prevail in the next seven.

The latest was a 26-17 success against Broughton Park last weekend that leaves them third in the table, and a single point adrift of a promotion play-off place, ahead of a derby with Warrington on Saturday.

READ > Northwich 26-17 Broughton Park: match report

“I didn’t have to go looking for these guys because they never went missing,” said the director of rugby.

“Instead they dug very deep for each other.

“You can sense now that they have a tremendous feeling for each other and that is something that can’t be created overnight.”

Poste’s trust in his players has been rewarded handsomely.

They arrived home following a heavy 50-26 defeat at Stockport in mid-October – a fourth reverse in five games – occupying 11th position in North One West and a dozen points from second spot.

However everybody held their nerve.

READ > Stockport 50-26 Northwich: match report

“It was a delicate moment,” admitted Poste.

“But I never felt as though the club’s committee were looking over my shoulder.

“I asked myself though whether I was the right person to take things forward but the support I had around me, both at home and among my backroom staff, never wavered."

If there was any doubt, it was fleeting.

A stunning 34-15 victory against leaders Carlisle seven days later was the catalyst for a winning run that has put them back in contention to be promoted.

READ > Northwich 34-15 Carlisle: match report

There is work to do though, and Warrington triumphed at Moss Farm in the return.

They are also unbeaten at Walton Lea this term.

Poste said: “These games are always close.

“There are theories as to why, and I think claims that there are similarities in how both teams play the game – with bits of genius and inspired backs play rather than relying on a massive pack that can pulverize the opposition – aren’t far off the mark.

“The clubs are similar too in their size and mentality and we’re both attempting to compete against better-resourced rivals.

“They did a job on us at our place, and we’ll need to produce something approaching our best to beat them [on Saturday].”

READ > Northwich 10-20 Warrington: match report

He will be boosted by the return of full-back Joel Barber, but work commitments rule out Will Du Randt.

Ben Ridgway (knee) is unlikely to feature, nor is Martin Balshaw.

Northwich also announced on Friday that Ben Jones, a regular earlier in his career for Blacks' colts, will make his first-team debut at Warrington after a string of encouraging performances for the second XV over the past few weeks.

He has returned to playing rugby following a three-year spell out of the game.