NORTHWICH Rugby Club secured their first win of 2023 when they travelled to Cheadle Hulme and beat Manchester 31-28 in a hard-fought match.

Blacks also extracted revenge for the disappointing result in the reverse fixture at Moss Farm earlier in the season when they lost 43-41 with the last play of the game.

However, the visitors could not have made a worse start when they went behind to a converted try within two minutes and things got worse when Manchester doubled their advantage five minutes later with another converted try.

Undeterred, Northwich began to settle and their efforts were rewarded when powerhouse prop Matt Lafeta touched down and skipper Nick Baldwin’s successful conversion halved the deficit.

Manchester restored their 14-point advantage midway through the first half with a converted try but again Blacks rallied to score their second converted try through the hard-working Rory Leidekkers.

It took less than two minutes of the second half starting for the scoreboard to tick over again, this time Andre Nell pouncing on a loose ball to cross the whitewash and Baldwin adding the extras to bring the scores level.

A few moments later Tom White intercepted a pass and raced 50 yards to give his side the lead for the first time, Baldwin again adding the conversion, and also landing a penalty to give his side a 10-point lead.

With the clock running down Manchester scored their fourth converted try to come within three points of Northwich who had to defend stoutly to ensure a deserved victory but in the dying minutes centre Martin Austen was shown a red card for a high tackle.

The final moments of the game appeared to be an eternity before Baldwin kicked the ball dead to end the contest.

Man of the match was former American Football running back from Chicago Jacob Goeppner, who complimented his silky elusive breaks with some stern tackling.

Northwich now have a healthy 38 points in the league standings but still have a points deficit of -37 and will have a chance to record a positive points for/against tally on Saturday when they entertain struggling Burnage at Moss Farm.

Northwich second XV maintained top spot of their league by overcoming visitors Macclesfield thirds 33-26 at Moss Farm.

All of the Blacks points came in the first half through tries by Adam Ollier with a brace, Jack Owens, Tim Wilson and Harry Naylor, who added four conversions.

Northwich thirds fielded a strong line-up to thrash bottom of the table Birkenhead Park thirds 117-5 at Moss Farm.

This weekend, Northwich seconds travel to Wirral thirds while Northwich thirds host Anselmians Mavericks thirds at Moss Farm. All kick-offs are 2.15pm.