NORTHWICH RUFC to Blundellsands in the firm knowledge that the clash with Firwood Waterloo was going to be the test of the season to date, which was confirmed in a 27-14 loss.

Although Martin Poste was disappointed that Phil Williams was unavailable he was buoyed by the return of Will du Randt following his spell at Chester.

The match started well for Northwich, with prop forward Mike Bradshaw selling a dummy and kicking the ball through a gap for man-of-the-match Shaun Burmah to score. Baldwin added the extras.

Then a long throw fell into the hands of Chris Dale who carried the ball over the line for a try and Baldwin’s conversion completed Northwich’s scoring.

Shortly after, Dale, at the heart of Blacks’ attack, suffered a knee injury that forced him off.

With the half entering stoppage time Northwich suffered a meltdown and two tries were conceded.

A home scrum inside their own 22 was won and with some great handling a gap appeared and the cover defence could do nothing to stop an unconverted try being scored.

By this time the Blacks were looking for half time to settle things down, but there was still time for a FW lineout close to the Northwich line.

With the ball secured the home side drove for the line to score a second unconverted try.

The half ended with Northwich wondering how they had let the early dominance slip.

Firswood showed great patience at the start of the second period to break the Blacks defence and score a converted try that gave them a lead they never lost.

Lady luck deserted Northwich as injuries left them without Chris James and Sam Naylor.

A Firswood penalty extended the home lead to six points and they rounded off the afternoon scoring a fourth try.

Despite the disappointment, the Blacks are still very much in the hunt only two points off second place.

They host Keswick on Saturday, February 29, kick-off 2.15pm.

Northwich: 1 Mike Bradshaw 2 Chris James 3 Joe Maddocks 4 Chris Heywood 5 Patrick Fray 6 Chris Dale 7 Tom Clark 8 Richard Dale 9 Matthew Poste 10 Nick Baldwin 11 Shaun Burma 12 Sam Naylor 13 Scott Davidson 14 Tom Husbands 15 Will du Randt 16 Richard Hart17 Mark Thompson 18 James Wood

Farr hopes win is spark

WINNINGTON Park had a nightmare start at Sefton but came through with a 24-17 success.

Although they conceded two early tries, they got themselves in front at half-time and held on.

The last minutes were frantic with Park putting themselves under pressure with some poor game management but their tackling saved them.

Coach Matt Farr said: “We deserved the win. We worked hard in the forwards, Mike Eaves having a great game playing out of position at hooker and it was nice to see Elliott Alston back on the pitch.

“Some great tacking again by Gary Dykes in the back row. Lee Allmark had a good game at stand-off and partnered well with Matt Cross.

“I hope the win rallies the team and we can hopefully get a few more wins to stay in this league.”

After falling behind, some strong running by second row Alston paved the way for Lee Allmark to shoot through a little gap to touch down and convert.

Park began to take control and try number two came after prop Shaun Underdown joined the backs and fed Luke Canning to go over in the corner.

Then number eight Dan Williams crossed from the back of a maul 10 metres out for a 19-12 lead.

In the second half Matt Cross did a nice scissors move with Allmark for Nick Clawson to score.

Sefton came back at Park and added a third try but it was as close as they got.

Park head to Widnes on Saturday in the RFU Intermediate Cup, kick-off 2.15pm.

Winnington: Shaun Underdown,Mike Eaves, Dan Snowden, Dave Cross, Elliott Alston,Gary Dykes, Dan Williams, Matt Treacy, Matt Cross, Lee Allmark, Sam Brookes, Alex Burrage, Luke Canning, Josh Gibbons, Nick Clawson, Charlie Smith, Cameron Heron, Joe Cook.