NORTHWICH Rugby Club first XV secured an important win against Leek with the last play of the game.

Leek were leading 30-22 with 10 minutes remaining but this reshuffled Blacks side showed never-say-die spirit, firstly with man-of-the-match Sam Naylor finishing off a try converted by Tom Husbands and then mercurial Eon du Preez crossing for the winner.

The five points achieved allowed them to leap Leek on the Regional 1 North West table, leaving them third from bottom and five points clear of cellar dwellers Sandbach ahead of hosting fourth-placed Wirral on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.

Blacks’ first encounter in the league with Leek looked like it would never take place.

The contest had been delayed twice by adverse weather conditions, so it was with some relief it eventually got underway.

As this was a planned rest day for rugby, three of Blacks’ overseas players had already booked a weekend in Amsterdam and with a further two late withdrawals resources were stretched to the max.

Up stepped Craig Fortune, Andy Outram, Tom Wilson, Oliver Kenny, and new boy Carl Woods.

With so many changes, this crucial match was even more challenging.

First blood went to the visitors.

Following a penalty, Leek opted to go for a lineout and with the ball secured they went on a charge and following a couple of phases moved the ball wide to score in the corner.

The Leek goalkicker was in excellent form and slotted the extras with just seven minutes on the clock.

Five minutes later Blacks responded.

A free kick set up an attack and Richard Dale made a clean break and fed Husbands who went over for a try.

Both sides slugged it out for the next 10 minutes until a penalty gave Northwich an attacking lineout.

Blacks pressed the visitors’ line before moving the ball wide for Taylor Haugh to score in the corner.

Five minutes later Leek drew level through a penalty kick that was awarded for a high tackle.

Northwich responded swiftly. From a solid scrum the ball was passed to midfield where Haugh joined the line and beat all the would-be defenders to score a great try which Husbands converted.

This was followed five minutes later with a seven-pointer from Leek.

With the half in added time Northwich were awarded a penalty when Leek strayed offside. Husbands slotted the goal, bringing the half to a close and giving Northwich a three-point lead.

Three minutes into the second half Leek drew level again with a penalty and another Leek penalty five minutes later restored the visitors’ lead.

The battle continued and following a series of attacking lineouts Leek extended their lead with a third converted try.

At this point it looked like the Northwich challenge had run out of steam.

However, a sustained attack culminated in a try for Naylor and with Husbands adding the extras, a bonus point was secured.

Buoyed by this score the Northwich spirit lifted and they pressed desperately for a win.

Leek defended for all they were worth but with the last play of the match Du Preez got over to give Northwich the hardest of fought victories.

The extras were missed but with five points in the bag nobody really cared.

In a thrilling match this was a genuine team performance from Northwich with notable contributions from Dale, Fortune, Haugh, Logan Mitchell, and Patrick Douglas.

Northwich (15-9, 1-8): Taylor Haugh, Tom Husbands, Jack Owens, Richard Dale, Andy Outram, Logan Mitchell, Liam Batt, Carl Woods, Eon Du Preez, Rory Leijdekkers, Craig Fortune, Patrick Douglas, Aaron Collins, Anthony Keller, Sam Naylor. Replacements: Tom Wilson, Oliver Kenny, Charlie Bancroft