CHRIS Heywood, the Northwich lock, believes his side have a point to prove in this Saturday’s Cheshire RFU Vase final.

Blacks will take on Birkenhead Park, league rivals that have prevailed in both meetings between the teams this season.

It’s a statistic that rankles.

“They’ve done us twice and we need to get one back,” said Heywood.

“The cup is there in the background, but for me beating them is more of a motivation.

“I think a few of the other guys feel the same.”

READ > Everything you need to know about Cheshire RFU Finals Day

This Northwich team has repeatedly proven they are a team that rises to the occasion.

They are the only side to complete a double over Carlisle, the North One West champions, this season.

However it’s arguable Blacks saved their best performance of the campaign for a semi-finals success on the pitch of higher-ranked Sandbach that secured their spot in this weekend’s final at New Brighton.

“Playing against a side that’s as good we are, or perceived to be better, always spurs us on,” said Heywood.

“It gives you a boost as well to come out on top and you believe in yourself that bit more.

“When you have a reason to fight, then it’s always remarkable how much you’re willing to.

“I think we showed that [at Sandbach]; they’re a big rival historically, and it was a huge lift to beat them in their own back yard.”

A defeat at Broughton Park, which ended a seven-match sequence without one, served as a reminder that Northwich cannot allow standards to slip.

They got back on track by burying relegated Anselmians at Moss Farm last weekend, a contest the 33-year-old watched from the side-lines while he nursed a slight knee ligament injury.

READ > Northwich 56-8 Anselmians: match report

“Our mind-set has to be right and it will be [on Saturday],” he added.

“I can sense how we’re going to perform while we’re warming up, and when we’re fully switched on we can beat anybody.

“That preparation beforehand is so important; get that right, and we’re pretty much unstoppable.”

It’s a trait that Birkenhead Park will recognise, for Northwich beat them in the Cheshire RFU Vase decider two years ago.

A 36-10 victory established Blacks as the most successful team in the competition’s short history with three final wins.

READ > How Blacks won the Vase final in 2017

Heywood added: “We played into their hands when we went there [in September] and allowed their forwards to dictate the game.

“We were at risk of a real hiding, and our pride stopped that from happening.

“Running rugby is our thing, and we’ll be trying to tire out their pack to give our backs a chance to get at them.”

Heywood is optimistic he will be on the field to help his teammates do exactly that.

He was joined as a spectator last weekend by Martin Balshaw, Matt Ensor, Chris James and Sam Naylor, all of whom hope to be available to take on Birkenhead Park.

Joel Barber (ankle) is Blacks' biggest health concern, while James Underhill (fractured jaw) is definitely ruled out by injury.

READ > Why contrasting styles make Vase final hard to call

"We have depth now," added Heywood.

"I think it's something we lacked before Martin Poste took over, but he's built a squad that can cope when we have injuries.

"There are guys who can fill in when others are missing.

"This season we've taken another step forward in that respect with young lads like Tom Clark and Tom Husband coming in who haven't played in the first-team previously.

"That's helped everybody, and it pushes you to play better because your place isn't safe any more."