BY the end, St Benedicts were pleading with the referee to blow the final whistle.

“C’mon ref, that’s enough now,” said one voice late on after the visitors fluffed arguably their best chance of the afternoon to score a try.

They had not been battered, far from it, but rather forced to submit by hosts who demonstrated their durability.

On a sticky pitch at Moss Farm and with a ball made greasy in wet conditions, Northwich were never likely to be at their flowing best.

And nor were they.

Not banking a bonus point may irritate them, although not for long.

If West Park were sent packing by a stylish performance seven days earlier, then Saints returned home soundly beaten in an arm-wrestle.

Neither of them scored a try, and director of rugby Martin Poste can feel equally satisfied by ends reached by distinctly different means.

Blacks broke through with arguably their best move of the match on 11 minutes.

Matthew Poste switched play after collecting the ball from the base of an attacking scrum, inviting James Underhill to drive forward.

He then slipped a pass left at precisely the right moment for Robin Houghton to slice open the visitors’ defence.

Nick Baldwin kicked a simple conversion.

He added a penalty shortly afterwards, the award of which annoyed a Saints player so much he was sent to the sin bin for dissent.

Northwich did not make the most of their numerical advantage, instead conceding a three-pointer of their own.

Baldwin replied quickly with another, again from close range, to make it 13-3.

A gap between the teams widened further before the break.

As has become his trademark this season, Northwich’s fly-half  kicked intelligently cross-field to set up a foot-race between Richard Dale and St Benedicts’ full-back.

The recently-converted flanker won, despite his rival having a head-start, nudging the ball forward with his left boot.

Possession was recycled by Underhill, who in turn sent Sam Naylor speeding towards the whitewash.

Baldwin could not add the extras.

He was reliable though when called upon to slot a third penalty early in the second period.

Any hope the Cumbrians had of mounting a recovery disappeared when full-back Joel Barber charged over in the corner after his teammates created an overlap.

Baldwin’s conversion, from out wide, was perfect.

As the weather deteriorated, and with the playing surface churned further, Northwich simply suffocated Saints for the remainder.

Indeed Dale’s enforced exit on a stretcher, after he sustained a knee injury, was a bigger blow than any landed by opponents they have now beaten twice this term.

Northwich | Phillips, Thompson, Michael Bradshaw, Heywood, Dudley, Naylor, Richard Dale, Chris Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Edwards, Underhill, Houghton, Skinkis, Barber Replacements Lloyd, Bates, Chris Bradshaw Tries Houghton, Naylor, Barber Cons Baldwin (2) Pens Baldwin (3)