NORTHWICH needed to avoid a third successive defeat to keep rivals in front within reach and they did exactly that.

A trip next weekend to Blackburn, who sit second in North One West and have lost only once at home this season, will feel less daunting as a result.

Martin Poste’s men would love to start that contest in the same way they did one with Burnage at Moss Farm.

They took the lead inside two minutes when Richard Dale collected the ball from a ruck and charged unopposed to the visitors’ line.

Nick Baldwin’s task to convert was straightforward.

Blacks moved further in front when captain Matthew Poste tapped a penalty before sending a perfectly-timed pass to full-back Joel Barber who dotted down.

Baldwin’s successful kick made it 14-0 and the prospect of an afternoon stroll seemed real.

However Burnage, victors in the return meeting back in September, are made of sterner stuff.

They wrestled back control, and dominated territory for the remainder of the first-half.

Their pressure, resisted for the most part by a disciplined defence, earned a reward in the moments before the break when they notched a try that was converted.

Blacks returned to the front foot after the turnaround and Baldwin kicked a penalty awarded for offside.

And the scoreboard continued to tick over after Barber caught a clearance kick before carrying the ball deep into Burnage’s half and off-loading to Will Du Randt who applied a finishing flourish.

Baldwin added the extras for 24-7.

A bonus-try appeared certain to follow when Sam Naylor charged towards the whitewash only to be halted by a fine covering tackle.

As they had done in the opening period, Burnage rallied.

The visitors could not find a way through until the closing stages when a tackle from Barber was judged by the match official to be high and he awarded a penalty-try.

Blacks played the remaining moments with 14 men after he was sent to the sin-bin but held firm to record a fifth home win from seven attempts during the current campaign.

Blackburn, victors at Warrington last weekend, await on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.

Northwich | Bradshaw, James, Ridgway, Heywood, Ensor, Naylor, Clark, Williams, Poste, Baldwin, Husband, Richard Dale, Du Randt, Skinkis, Barber Replacements Balshaw, Maddocks, Gough Tries Richard Dale, Barber, Du Randt Cons Baldwin (3) Pen Baldwin