NORTHWICH rugby union team finished the first half of the campaign with a hard fought 21-20 victory over Vale of Lune, moving them up to third position.

The match saw the home debut for Gabriel Hakaraia which, sadly, proved to be his last as he needs to return to New Zealand for family reasons.

Northwich hope he is able to return as he would certainly add value to the club.

Prior to the match there was a minute’s silence for Tom Curran, a former player and friend of Northwich RFC who died earlier in the week and will be missed by all at the club.

The match started well for the Blacks as Richard Dale chased his own kick deep into the Vale half and when the ball was fumbled he was able to ground it for a try that Baldwin converted.

Ten minutes later some loose play allowed the visitors to mount an attack and following some good teamwork they eventually scored an unconverted try.

From an attacking lineout Northwich launched an attack and were rewarded with a try from the industrious Davidson. The extras were added by Baldwin.

Five minutes later the Blacks were again on the scoreboard. In a repeat of the previous score a lineout set the Blacks on the attack and the powerful Hakaraia drove across the line for a try which was converted by Baldwin.

The second half belonged to the visitors as Northwich were punished for too many errors.

Vale added a try and then as the match went into the final quarter Vale were awarded a penalty when Richard Dale slapped the ball down, for which he received a yellow card.

The kick reduced the deficit to eight points and with three minutes left Vale scored a third try which was converted.

With time running out the visitors looked like they were going to score again only to lose the ball forward inches from the line.

Martin Poste was pleased with the outcome but will be looking to take full advantage of the break to get the boys ready for the difficult trip to Burnage in the new year.

Northwich: 1 Mike Bradshaw 2 Gabriel Hakaraia 3 Joe Maddocks 4 Chris Heywood 5 Patrick Fray 6 Sam Naylor 7 Tom Clark 8 Phil Williams 9 Matt Poste (Capt) 10 Nick Baldwin 11 Tom Merrick 12 Richard Dale13 Scott Davidson 14 Shaun Burma 15 Tom Husbands 16 Chris James 17 Kyle Clarke 18 Chris Dale.