NORTHWICH Rugby Club enjoyed a double celebration on the final day of the regular season when the Blacks’ second and third strings won their respective knock-out competitions.

The Moss Farm based second XV development squad, under head coach Matt Purbrick and skipper Harry Naylor, overcame their larger, more physical and aggressive opponents Eagle 40–26 at the home of Anselmians Rugby Club to take the Papa Johns Cheshire Bowl.

Their triumph completed the league and cup double for Northwich second XV but they had to work hard to keep out the Penketh, Warrington-based outfit who had won every league game this season and were looking to complete the double themselves.

Due to Eagle's colours being back and white hoops, Northwich took to the field in their changed gold shirts and they started the brighter team with a series of attacks inside their rivals' half.

Northwich Guardian: Northwich Rugby Club second XV celebrate winning the Papa John BowlNorthwich Rugby Club second XV celebrate winning the Papa John Bowl (Image: Contributed)

Within the first 13 minutes, a spate of ill-discipline from Eagle saw Northwich establish a nine-point lead via three penalties from Naylor but soon after the tide turned and it was Northwich who were guilty of ill-discipline when Naylor was yellow carded, followed shortly after when the referee brandished a red card to flanker Johnny Pym for retaliation.

Down to 13 men, Northwich had to dig deep to keep Eagle out but the pressure told and just after the half hour scored the game’s opening try of the afternoon, the ensuing conversion attempt missing the uprights.

However, the return of Naylor to the fray two minutes later resulted in Northwich opening their try-scoring account when Sam Jones followed up a drive to the line by Rory Leidekkers and the full-back was on hand to crash over from short range next to the posts.

Naylor added the simple conversion to give his side a 16-5 lead and three minutes later Naylor extended the lead with another successful penalty.

However, in the seventh minute of added time, Eagle scored their second try and the resulting conversion closed the gap to 19-12 at the break.

Within 15 minutes of the re-start, Northwich scored two converted tries to establish a healthy 33-12 lead.

Both tries were scored by Tom Husband, the first of which saw the winger chase a delicious chip over the Eagle rushing defence by Naylor and the second when an Eagle defender failed to deal with a clearance kick from Liam Batt and the winger raced away to cross the whitewash.

Many of the travelling Moss Farm faithful thought they had done enough to secure the Papa Johns Bowl but Eagle had other ideas and they staged a comeback to come within a converted try of their opponents when they scored two converted tries.

As the game entered the closing stages, nerves were on edge for the Moss Farm outfit as Eagle tried running every bit of possession.

However, the Warrington side spilled the ball in a tackle inside their own half, and Naylor was on hand to scoop up the loose ball and he raced away to score the decisive try which he also converted for the scoreboard to show a score-line of 40-26.

It was fitting for the skipper to score the last try of the afternoon for a personal tally of 25 points with a faultless kicking display, and, shortly after, Naylor lifted the Bowl aloft in front of his jubilant teammates.

Meanwhile, Northwich third string won their Papa Johns Shield match by beating Widnes third XV 45-15 at the home of Leigh Rugby Club.

It was an emphatic performance by Northwich who finished fourth in the league, seven points and a place below their opponents and missing the suspended Paddy Douglas and the unavailable Kyle Linsdsay.

Northwich Guardian: Skipper Chris Blower proudly displays the Papa John Cheshire PlateSkipper Chris Blower proudly displays the Papa John Cheshire Plate (Image: Contributed)