NORTHWICH RUFC got their 2023/24 campaign underway with a 30-3 loss at Stockport in the Cheshire Cup.

Head coach Sam Naylor and his new coaching team introduced several newcomers into the side and further signings are expected to arrive before the start of the Regional One North West campaign at league favourites Blackburn on Saturday.

Stockport were well drilled, especially in the back line where they ran in four tries on the night.

Northwich opened with a Tom Husband penalty but the final score of 30-3 was a fair reflection of Stockport’s ruthless counter-attacking rugby.

The Northwich pack looks to be stronger than in recent years and Naylor juggled his front row around throughout the match.

Prop Callum Hulbert was back from a spell at Sandbach, newcomer Gabriel Sipapte also started in the front row with club favourite Rory Leijdekkers in the hooker spot.

New signing, and former Northwich junior, Jack England, started at back row before moving to hooker - he looks to be a real asset.

Emerging talent Adam Ollier gave a respectable performance in the engine room.

The Northwich half-back pairing of Richard Hart and Liam Batt were very effective when linking up last season and there were real signs of optimism during this encounter.

Another emerging talent that caught the eye was Jack Owens at inside centre, who had the wisdom and direction of Richard Dale by his side at 13.

Northwich supporters will look forward to seeing Taylor Haugh and Logan Mitchell in the black and gold jerseys. They are from the same Bay of Plenty stable as former club favourite Matt Ensor.