SHACKLES off with a promotion play-off place out of reach, the teams produced a thriller.

Northwich completed an impressive double against Douglas, and as a reward traded places with their guests in the table.

Curiously, the opening quarter of an hour was no guide for what was to follow.

A stalemate was ended by Blacks after Sam Naylor picked up the ball from the back of a scrum and fed Joel Barber who broke the Isle of Man outfit’s defensive line.

He returned possession to Naylor who invited Robin Houghton to claim a neat try.

Nick Baldwin converted and extended the home team’s lead when he landed a penalty kick.

Douglas were undeterred and put their first points on the board after a lineout sparked a series of carries before they moved wide to touch down in the corner.

Five minutes later they formed an unstoppable maul from another lineout to push over the whitewash.

And they remained alert, collecting the ball from the restart before countering to claim a third converted score before half-time.

Northwich attempted to respond and Naylor’s try early in the second period, converted by Baldwin, closed the gap.

Martin Poste’s men then moved back in front after a quickly-taken penalty started a sequence that ended with Scott Davidson crossing the line.

Baldwin remained reliable.

Douglas landed a three-pointer to draw level before Baldwin replied in kind with 10 minutes left.

Barber was next to dot down, passing to Houghton who made inroads into the Manx men’s territory before finding the supporting full-back who finished the move.

Northwich could not relax though and conceded again when their guests used a set-piece to set up another try.

The outcome wasn’t settled until Davidson forced his way over with time running out, Baldwin’s fifth conversion of the afternoon putting Blacks out of reach.

Northwich | Maddocks, Lapniewski, Bennett, Heywood, Clark, Naylor, Ensor, Williams, Poste, Baldwin, Husband, Richard Dale, Davidson, Houghton, Barber Replacements Wood, Fray, Bradshaw Tries Houghton, Naylor, Davidson (2), Barber Cons Baldwin (5) Pens Baldwin (2)

Additional reporting by Steve Wood