WITH Wilmslow riding high at the top of the table one could have expected this to have been a very difficult encounter for Northwich.

However, Wilmslow have suffered with a significant number of injuries and proved to be no match for a strong Northwich outfit - the Blacks running out 41-22 victors.

With Chris Heywood missing Martin Poste called on the services of Chris James and a versatile squad proved to be up to the task.

With just three minutes gone the Blacks launched an attack that ended with a long pass from Baldwin collected by Husbands, who forced himself over the line for a try that was converted by Baldwin.

Ten minutes later, with Northwich attacking, they failed to secure a scrum and the Wilmslow clearance kick wasn’t dealt with and the visitors opened their account with an unconverted try.

Although the home side were in control the next 10 minutes proved to be a stalemate.

That was until Baldwin made a half break and a neat offload was collected by Davidson for a score close to the posts which Baldwin converted.

As the half drew to a close there was still time for three more tries.

This first was for the visitors when some smart handling provided them with another unconverted try.

The Blacks response came almost immediately when from an attacking scrum Naylor fed Poste, whose beautifully delayed pass put Hard working Fray into the gap and his strength proved too much.

Again it was converted by Baldwin.

From the restart Richard Dale went almost the length of the pitch he then he combined with Davidson for Kyle Clarke to score.

The extras were missed and the half cam to a close with the Blacks 26-10 to the good.

The half started badly for the Blacks as Wilmslow received the ball and went on the offensive. Following a superb build up the visitors were rewarded with a third unconverted try.

A Baldwin penalty steadied the ship.

With the match well into the final quarter, Tom Husbands collected a clearance kick and carried it deep into the Wilmslow half.

A great inside pass was collected by Richard Dale and he had the easiest of run ins to score a try that was converted by Baldwin.

The match entered the final five minutes when the resilient visitors threw everything at Northwich resulting in a converted try and earning them a deserved bonus point.

However the last word went to the blacks when they were awarded a penalty.

From the scrum Poste went on a blind side run and fed Hart to score in the corner for what proved to be the last action of the match.

Although Martin Poste was happy with the outcome he was frustrated that Northwich failed to close the match out earlier.

The gap at the top of the division has closed dramatically with only 8 points separating the top five teams.

Northwich entertain Altrincham Kersal on Saturday, KO 2.15pm.

1 Mike Bradshaw 2 Chris James 3 Joe Maddocks 4 Tom Clark 5 Patrick Fray 6 Chris Dale 7 Sam Naylor 8 Phil Williams 9 Matthew Poste 10 Nick Baldwin 11 Kyle Clarke 12 Richard Dale 13 Scott Davidson 14 James Wood 15 Tom Husbands 16 Fraser Dodd 17 Richard Hart 18 Mark Thompson