Steve Wood reports on Northwich RUFC’s 64-25 home defeat to Burnage on Saturday…

ON paper, this match looked like one Blacks could get some reward from.

But it was a case of “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” with occasional periods of positive and ambitious rugby punctuated with a loss of concentration and some significant errors.

Off the field, the day began with a celebration of inclusion with the Superstars enjoying a fun day out with bouncy castles, tug-o-war and the obligatory barbecue.

Moments before kick off, Northwich had to readjust the back division as Richard Dale was forced to withdraw as a result of a dizzy spell.

As expected, the match began with both sides showing an appetite for a physical encounter and Northwich drew first blood with a Tom Husbands penalty after just five minutes.

Ten minutes later, the visitors took the lead with a well taken try which started from an attacking lineout and although the conversion was missed, two further tries (one converted) made things look ominous for Blacks.

On the half-hour mark, Blacks launched a telling attack and following a series of carries, Aaron Collins finished with a fine try converted by Husbands.

At this point, Northwich started to make an impression on the contest with the forwards taking control and on 36 minutes, a quickly-taken penalty close to the visitors line gave Joel Barber a deserved score which was converted by Husbands.

As the half came to a close, a second Husbands penalty closed the gap to just four points going into the break.

With expectations high, the home side were stunned by the response of the Burnage side.

Their slick running backs took control scoring six tries, five of which were converted, leaving Northwich out of the contest and needing to restore some pride.

This they managed to do as they proceeded to go on the offensive, demonstrating real character as Barber finished off a fine move.

Despite this defeat, there are some clear signs of optimism – the forwards were collectively effective, asking questions of Burnage throughout the match and Barber, Husbands and Jonny Pym always looked dangerous.

The coaching staff will be hoping to get some of the absent players back for the rest of the campaign.

Blacks' next match is away at York on Saturday, kick off 3pm.