NORTHWICH will not be as sharp as they should be to start the defence of their Cheshire Vase title on Saturday, according to Martin Poste.

However it isn’t their fault.

Blacks were due to host Stockport in a preliminary round encounter last weekend, only for their opponents to claim they did not have enough players available to fulfil the fixture.

The men from Moss Farm could not arrange an alternative game at short notice, and host National League Lymm after playing only one warm-up match.

“It’s disappointing when any side at this level can’t raise a team,” said the director of rugby.

“We’ve had really good numbers at training, and the turnout last Thursday was fantastic.

“The guys expected to play a game after it though, and that extra run-out would have served us well.”

Northwich Guardian:

Northwich players celebrate after claiming the Cheshire RFU Vase as a reward for a final success against Birkenhead Park earlier this year. Picture: Ken Houghton

A depleted Northwich side competed well with Newport Salop for the first hour of a friendly, only to concede three converted tries in the final quarter of a 35-12 defeat.

Captain Chris Dale is back this weekend after getting married, although Joel Barber (holiday) and Will du Randt (work) are unavailable.

John Harrison and Dave Farley will be missing too.

Poste said: “It will give an opportunity for one or two others to show what they can do, and in midfield we’ll have the guys I want out there.

“We’ll give it our best shot with what we have, and see where that takes us.”

Kick-off tomorrow is at 3pm.