ON paper, a routine return to form against opponents at the bottom of the table.

However a win on Saturday was cathartic for Northwich too.

If a defeat to Kirbky Lonsdale seven days earlier, following a record 27 successive victories, had been painful then Blacks did not show it.

Shaun Phillips (rib) succumbed to an injury sustained the previous weekend, so director of rugby Martin Poste recalled Mark Thompson at prop.

Richard Dale returned to the backs division with Nick Baldwin unavailable.

Northwich took the lead when the fly-half’s replacement resisted several attempts to tackle him on the right before crossing in the corner.

The visitors continued to apply pressure afterwards, prompting Eccles to concede penalties, and James Underhill was off-target with a three-point attempt.

He was more accurate, closer to the target, from his second.

Joel Barber was next to add his name to the scoresheet, carving through the hosts’ defence after receiving a pass from Will Du Randt.

Underhill’s extras made it 15-0.

Hooker Chris James fed a marauding Barber for his second try, Northwich’s third, shortly afterwards.

Blacks’ grip on the contest loosened briefly, and Eccles registered their first points when they drove over the line following a scrum five metres out.

A conversion closed the gap to 20-7 at half-time.

The home team carried their momentum into the second period, adding a successful penalty attempt to their total.

When they were awarded another, presenting them with a lineout at close range, it needed a tackle from Richard Dale to halt their forward momentum.

Northwich recycled, clearing up field.

A knock-on gave them a scrum, from which Robin Houghton sped to the line for a bonus-point try.

After Underhill had been floored by a high tackle, Richard Dale slotted a penalty from in front of the sticks.

And he repeated the trick with time running out when an Eccles defender killed the ball after James had kicked it forward into open space.

Northwich | Thompson, James, Maddocks, Dudley, Smith, Naylor, Chris Dale, Heywood, Poste, Underhill, Richard Dale, Reilly, Du Randt, Houghton, Barber Replacements Farley, English, Edwards Tries Richard Dale, Barber (2), Houghton Con Underhill Pens Underhill, Richard Dale (2)