THE new year started with familiar struggles for Northwich RUFC.

Still winless in the North Premier, they welcomed Sandal to Moss Farm while attempted to deal with a raft of injuries and unavailability.

Chris Heywood, Mike Gough, Joe Maddocks, Joel Barber, Sam Naylor and Jack Braithwaite were all ruled out and with no return in sight for Nick Baldwin and Chris Dale, the Northwich recourses were stretched to say the least.

Sandal were ruthless in taking advantage and ran out 62-10 winners, but there were still positives for the coaching team to take as their young side continues to find its feet.

After the visitors had taken the lead through an early unconverted try, Harry Naylor’s well-struck penalty raised home hopes in response.

Even a 22-3 half-time deficit did not seem insurmountable, but a lack of concentration after the break proved costly as Sandal ran in four tries – three of which were converted – in 20 minutes.

Having been forced into a reshuffle by further injuries, Northwich did find a response when a quickly-taken penalty released Kyle Clarke, who showed great pace and footwork to cross the whitewash.

Naylor added the extras, but Sandal wrapped up the scoring with two more tries.

Blacks’ next game sees them travel to second-placed Billingham on Saturday.

Squad: Tom Wilson, Mark Thompson, Ben Ridgway, Josh Warburton, Rory Williams, Alfie Sinclair, Aaron Collins, Tom Clark, Harley Aston, James Weeks, Kyle Clarke, Scott Davidson, Richard Dale, Harry Naylor, Tom Husbands, Matt Purbrick, Tom Merrick, Anthony Keller