DESPITE another ultimately heavy defeat, there is belief that a corner is about to be turned at Northwich RUFC.

With several key players nearing a return to the side and Moss Farm’s premier pitch almost ready to host matches, the hope is they will soon be ready to compete in the North Premier after their promotion.

At present, though, they are still short of being able to live with the likes of Saturday’s visitors Billingham, who used their experience to stretch away in the second half.

Blacks had some players back for this game but were still six short of a fully available squad.

However, the first half gave the Moss Farm faithful hope that better things were to come.

Northwich enjoyed plenty of possession, but much of it was deep in their own half as the visitors dominated territoty.

As the half entered stoppage time, however, Northwich only trailed 7-3 thanks to a Tom Husbands penalty.

Unfortunately, however, the half ended with Billingham crossing for their second try following a slick scrum move.

The second half then proved to be a case of déjà vu for Blacks as the visitors grew in confidence.

They ran in six further tries, with all but one being converted, to run out 54-3 winners.

It means they remain at the foot of the North Premier table having lost all four of their outings, conceding 292 points in the process and scoring just 18.

They will need to dig deep but the sight of Chris Heywood and Tom Clark showing a never-say-die attitude will help with motivation.

Youngster Harry Naylor, with returns for Joel Barber and Hayden Skinkis very much welcome while debutant Josh Warburton put in an encouraging display.

On Saturday, Blacks travel to Blackburn for their latest league fixture, kick off 3pm.

Squad: Joe Maddocks, Mark Thompson, Mike Bradshaw, Chris Heywood, Josh Warburton, Aaron Collins, Tom Clark, Patrick Fray, Harry Naylor, Tom Wood, Tom Merrick, Joel Barber, James Weeks, Hayden Skinkis, Tom Husbands, Rory Williams, Richard Hart, Alfie Sinclair