NOT that Northwich needed one, but they were served a reminder on Saturday of why Kirkby Lonsdale’s ruthlessness will be rewarded with a league title.

The contest was closer than the score suggests although Blacks, depleted still by the continued absence of injured players in all departments, did not threaten an upset in the same way they had at Moss Farm earlier in the campaign.

Their preparations were imperfect too because of a delayed start to their journey north.

They fell behind after Kirkby spurned a penalty in favour of a lineout from which prop Tyran Fagan claimed a first try following a controlled drive.

Ryan Terry added the extras.

Centre Tom Pickthall turned Blacks’ defence inside out to score a second, although Martin Poste’s men responded with a stylish score of their own following a miss-pass from Nick Baldwin to Joel Barber.

Bud Skinkis benefitted to cross the whitewash, Baldwin’s conversion making it 12-7.

Kirkbly Lonsdale replied in kind, stand-off Dave Barton trading passes with Pickthall before ending the move with the hosts’ third try.

Terry’s extras duly followed.

Northwich continued to battle, and an alert Skinkis was first to a rebounded ball – after Baldwin’s penalty attempt struck an upright – to claim the visitors’ second score.

Baldwin’s next kick was successful, closing a gap to 19-14 until Terry’s three-pointer at the other end gave the table-toppers some breathing space.

Blacks’ hopes of making inroads into the deficit were hit early in the second period when substitute Joe Faumui’s quick tap-and-go from close range ended with him dotting down.

Terry’s conversion left Northwich playing catch-up.

Resolute as ever, they improved their score when full-back Barber went over at the end of a well-executed move started by captain Chris Dale and scrum-half Matthew Poste.

However Baldwin missed with his conversion attempt.

Faumui claimed his second try, Kirkby’s fifth, from close range before Fagan also doubled his personal tally.

Terry converted successfully to move his side to 41-19, although the final scoring act was saved for Craig Galbraith when he touched down a seventh try late on.

The Cumbrians, 16 points clear at the North One West summit, have now won all 19 league matches this season.

Northwich, who drop down to fourth following Wilmslow’s defeat of Vale of Lune, host Eccles at Moss Farm on Saturday.

Northwich | Thompson, Lindsay, Michael Bradshaw, Dudley, Heywood, Naylor, English, Chris Dale, Poste, Baldwin, Skinkis, Underhill, Houghton, Du Randt, Barber Replacements Purbrick, Chris Bradshaw, Gavin Tries Skinkis (2), Barber Cons Baldwin (2)