NORTHWICH Rugby Club’s preparations and optimism for the forthcoming season following a pre-season friendly 26-5 success over Ruthin were severely dented when they were knocked out of the Cheshire Cup by lower league opposition Anselmians.

The Wirral-based hosts progressed to the next round following a comfortable 39-19 scoreline, but not before the visitors gave the home side a testing last 20 minutes.

At that stage, Anselmians were in what appeared to be an unassailable 39-7 lead but a couple of changes inspired Northwich to rally in the last quarter and they were duly rewarded with two further tries through Tom White and Tom Clarke, both engineered by scrum-half Richard Hart.

Kiwi full-back Ethyn Martin scored a great individual try when retrieving a kick inside his own 22 metre area and he evaded several tacklers on his way to the whitewash.

Skipper Nick Baldwin successfully converted two tries.

Hart had what appeared to be a decent try disallowed and a couple of other half chances that went begging could have made for a nail-biting grand finale.

This weekend, Northwich entertain Lymm in the opening round of Regional 1 North West League matches, kick off 3pm.

Director of rugby Martin Poste and his coaching staff will have several overseas and home-based recruits to select from and are hoping to begin their quest to maintain their National League status with a win.