MARTIN Poste predicts a clash of styles when Northwich meet Birkenhead Park in the Cheshire RFU Vase final on Saturday.

Blacks lost, but only just, in both league meetings between the two teams this season and their director of rugby expects there to be only a narrow margin that separates them again at New Brighton.

“You’ll see a stark contrast,” he told the Guardian.

“And in every way – ideology and methodology – but that doesn’t make it an easier to predict the outcome.”

READ > Northwich 34-40 Birkenhead Park: previous meeting this season

A glance at the North One West table supports his view.

Northwich are level on points with their rivals and, assuming they both prevail at home against relegated opponents in their remaining fixture, will finish fourth because Park have a higher wins tally.

Poste does not expect a surprise in terms of approach by Martin O’Keefe’s men but concedes there is a challenge to stop them being effective at playing to their strengths.

He said: “They will attempt to start quickly to establish the upper hand and that means forcing us to concede penalties that allow them to get the ball into the corners of the pitch before driving us back from a lineout.

“They’ll try to deprive us of possession for as long as they can because they know what our backs division can do if we have it.

“For us, it’s a question of ‘Can we pull their pack around the field?’ The trick for us is to get them into positions they don’t want to be and where they can be exposed by our speed.”

Northwich put behind them a defeat at Broughton Park seven days earlier when they thrashed Anselmians 56-8 at Moss Farm last weekend.

They scored eight tries against limited opponents despite having a handful of regulars unavailable because of injury and work commitments.

READ > Northwich 56-8 Anselmians: match report

A head injury during the early exchanges to prop Ben Ridgway, sustained after an incident off the ball, added another name to that list of those watching on.

Poste said: “There were performances from a number of players that haven’t done themselves any harm at all in terms of selection.

“I was happy that we tried to play our game, a good brand of rugby, despite not being protected by the referee.

“It says a lot about how far we’ve come, and the strength in reserve that we now have, to win in the manner that we did with so many changes.”

He hopes to have lock Chris Heywood (knee) available again but full-back Joel Barber (ankle) is a major injury doubt.

Matt Ensor, Chris James and Sam Naylor are all optimistic they will be fit.