Northwich rise, but is this their ceiling? 

Blacks traded places with Birkenhead Park in the North One West table as a reward for a fourth successive league victory and now sit third. 

However an impressive success for Blackburn at leaders Carlisle saw them inch further away from Martin Poste’s men. 

Their grip on a promotion play-off place feels tighter with a nine-point gap between the teams. 

Burn, victors in 10 of their past 11 matches, play only one opponent from the table’s top-half in their remaining fixtures. 

If Northwich can finish third, matching their feat in the previous two seasons, it would arguably be their most impressive achievement given the relative strength of the division this season. 

What is it about Waterloo? 

The Guardian was there to see Northwich host Waterloo for the first time in a league fixture last season. 

It was early in November 2017, and we wrote: “On this weekend two years ago this fixture, never mind the result, will have felt far away for both clubs.” 

Blacks won 20-17 that day, and have triumphed now in the three meetings since. 

This success was probably the most convincing of those, even if their opponents did cross the whitewash twice during a late rally, in terms of its execution. 

A victory on this pitch last March was full of flair, in the first-half at least, but the control and discipline of their attacking on Saturday was encapsulated in Joel Barber’s second try before the break. 

The ex-Factor 

Scott Davidson’s return to the Memorial Ground, following a transfer from Waterloo to Northwich last month, perhaps came around sooner than he would have liked. 

However the centre delivered an unselfish display in the first-half, running intelligent lines and carrying the ball forward when an opportunity presented itself. 

He was a target for the hosts, and some in the crowd did not hide their glee when he was deservedly shown a yellow card for a high tackle on the hour. 

He returned later though to help steady the visitors when it briefly looked like their sizeable lead might be eroded. 

Becoming steelier on the road 

Northwich lost their first three away matches this season at Birkenhead Park, Burnage and then Stockport. 

They had 112 points put on them along the way too. 

Their record since? P7 W5 D0 L2. 

There is also a brilliant victory away to higher-ranked Sandbach in the Cheshire RFU Vase semi-finals to add to that list. 

This side has developed a knack of winning in circumstances they’re not expected to while away from Moss Farm, which their success at Carlisle an undoubted highlight. 

A big crowd, and a hostile one too, didn’t faze them on Saturday. 

Is there a better backs division in North One West? 

It’s certainly up for debate. 

Full-back Joel Barber will attract most attention because he scored a hat-trick of tries, the last of those a stunning solo effort that saw him sprint from one end of the pitch to the other. 

His speed and power, a combination that makes him so difficult to stop when in full-flight, had propelled him over the line twice in the first-half too. 

Their half-back pairing, scrum-half Matthew Poste and stand-off Nick Baldwin, enjoyed themselves once again and dominated their Waterloo counterparts. 

Davidson’s skill-set, combined with his size, makes him a formidable asset in the centres alongside Richard Dale. 

Ominously for their opponents, Blacks didn’t have Will Du Randt (work commitments) or James Underhill (injury) available.