MARTIN Poste had predicted beforehand that the real Northwich would show up for this game.

A version that did may not be the one he had in mind but Blacks’ director of rugby will head home be even more satisfied.

In an 80-minute arm wrestle his side refused to buckle.

To triumph after a battle of attrition isn’t this team’s trademark and that’s why the boost from doing so is significant.

The match itself was this division in microcosm; close, fierce and impossible to predict.

Northwich made three changes to a line-up that faced Blackburn seven days earlier with Michael Gough restored to the front-row.

Chris James switched to flanker with Matt Ensor ruled out by an injury and Richard Dale stood in for Phil Williams at number eight – a move that accommodated Will Du Randt’s return to the centres.

A first-half without a single point is proof that defences ruled, although neither coach will have been impressed at how easily possession was turned over.

Northwich dominated the lineout and held their own at the scrum but determined opponents repelled what was thrown at them.

It was a pattern that continued until the 52nd minute when the visitors kicked a penalty.

The whistle of referee Damian Hamilton repeatedly interrupted proceedings for a spell, mainly to punish Blacks for infringements at the breakdown.

However Stockport were denied another three points when the ball struck an upright and he home team reached it before an incoming rival.

To the credit Northwich channelled their frustration in the right way.

On 64 minutes they used their superiority at the lineout to form a maul that pushed beyond the away side’s 22-metre line.

Full-back Joel Barber appeared certain to score when he darted forward to receive a recycled ball only to knock it on.

He redeemed himself shortly afterwards, spinning a perfectly-weighted pass to Will Du Randt who charged to the line following a spell of sustained pressure.

Nick Baldwin’s successful conversion attempt was greeted by a huge roar from sodden supporters pitch-side at Moss Farm.

Stockport have been vulnerable during the closing stages of matches this season and were thwarted last weekend when guests Warrington scored a last-minute try.

This game was put beyond their reach too in added time.

Captain Martin Poste’s kick invited Barber to give chase despite a covering defender having a significant head-start.

His sprint was rewarded when he slid to take possession and from the next phase a determined James forced his way over to break the visitors’ resistance.

Turns out the real Northwich might be a multi-faceted one.

Northwich | Maddocks, Gough, Ridgway, Heywood, Clark, Naylor, James, Richard Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Houghton, Underhill, Du Randt, Skinkis, Barber Replacements (none used) Bennett, Bradshaw, Collins Tries Du Randt, James Con Baldwin