NORTHWICH welcomed Altrincham Kersal to Moss Farm in the knowledge that this would be a real test.

This proved to be the case and in a well-fought match that was extremely entertaining for the neutrals the Blacks won 29-14.

With the first team pitch waterlogged the match was moved to the second choice pitch which proved to be a good track for running rugby.

Martin Poste was able to name an unchanged side but was disappointed to lose Fraser Dodd at the eleventh hour.

With less than five minutes gone the Blacks won a turnover and released Kyle Clarke who ran almost the length of the pitch to score under the posts for Baldwin to convert.

From the restart the blacks carried the ball moving it wide, an inside pass found Richard Dale who sprinted for the line to score a try that went unconverted. The next 20 minutes proved to be a stalemate with AK enjoying territory but finding no way through the blacks stoic defence.

It was at this point that Richard Dale made a decisive break and supported by Man of the Match Williams and Tom Clark ran the ball close to the AK line where Kyle Clarke was on hand to score his second try.

Baldwin added the extras.

As the match entered the last 10 minutes of the half James made a break, he was supported by Naylor and Chris Dale whose pass of the ground was delivered to Kyle Clarke who secured a third personal try and a bonus point for Northwich.

Baldwin added the extras and the half closed with a 26-0 score.

The second half began with Northwich applying pressure in the AK half.

However it was the visitors that turned things around. With some forceful and ambitious carrying the put the blacks to the sword scoring an converted try in the corner.

As the match entered the final quarter Northwich tried to carry the ball out of their half.

The ball went loose and AK pounced to score a second converted try. What followed was a nervous 15 minutes as AK tried to get back on terms. So when Northwich were awarded a penalty Baldwin stepped up to kick what proved to be the last score of the contest with a well earned victory.

It is clear to see why only 12 points separate the top seven teams, all of whom could win this division.

Northwich take a break this weekend and travel to Warrington the following week, kick off 2.15pm

Northwich: 1 Bradshaw 2 James 3 Maddocks 4 Clark 5 Fray 6 Dale 7 Naylor 8 Phil Williams 9 Poste 10 Baldwin 11 Clarke 12 Dale 13 Davidson 14 Wood 15 Husbands 16 Hart 17 Thompson

Meanwhile, after a few challenging weeks Northwich thirds lost to an 11-try Christleton performance.

The 73-14 scoreline may look like it was an easy win but for a large part of the first half this was a very even and competitive game, eventually though the handling and support play of the Swans saw them establish a lead and stretch away playing some fine flowing rugby in parts.

From the kick off a promising opening salvo saw the ball moved one way then the other with backs and forwards combining well to give space to weave through the defence for a solo try on 4 mins, adding the first of 9 extras and a 7 v 0 lead.

More fluent play stretched the Northwich defence allowing Christleton to power over out wide again after some good interplay between backs and forwards.

The scoring of two early tries then led to a passage of scrappy play with both sides coughing up the ball too frequently, from one such turnover after an attempted offload Northwich built several phases of play before being awarded a penalty - the kick to the corner and a smart quick throw to the front saw Chris Eyres take the return pass and score out wide - the conversion from the touchline was good 12 v 7.

This score then concentrated the home side and a greater sense of calmness when in control of the ball and more patient build up play started to open up the opposition defence.

Steele then powered through from the back of a ruck to score against his old side and a half time score of 33 v 7.

The second period started in the same vein with the Christleton winger scoring out wide shrugging off a head high tackle in the process 38 v 7.

Chris Steele then scored his second with a trademark charge down centre field to score under the posts 45 v 7

Another ex Northwich Will Thompson scored out wide, again the extras were added 52 v 7

Northwich never let their heads drop and always looked to attack with ball, from a turnover they moved it wide to score out wide which was a testament to their attitude and desire 52 v 14.

To end the scoring Christleton winger got his second following an awesome attacking take of a high ball and storming through to score under the posts 73 v 14

It was a good game with lots of good rugby, the referee always looked to play advantage.