MARTIN Poste hailed his players’ enduring ability to surprise even him after they inflicted a first home defeat of the campaign on Warrington last weekend.

Blacks edged a close encounter after Nick Baldwin kicked a penalty deep in added time.

It stunned their usually free-scoring hosts, who had been frustrated by the visitors’ determination in defence.

“I think they ran out of ideas,” reflected Northwich’s director of rugby.

“We’d worked on a plan to stop them getting the ball out wide easily because that’s where they’ve been doing all the damage to other sides.

“Our commitment to a pick and drive game was deliberate, and I said beforehand that our back-row would make the difference and win the game for us.

“And all three of them – Jonny English, Martin Balshaw and Richard Dale – were outstanding.”

Northwich had to adjust more than once during the first-half after injuries to Ben Ridgway (shoulder) and Sam Nayor (knee) ended early their involvement.

With Tom King and Kyle Lindsay already ruled out, it meant Blacks’ front-row was changed entirely from the one that starred at Stockport a fortnight earlier.

Replacement Conor Lapniewski, along with Mark Thompson and Callum Hulbert, played their part in a slender 13-11 victory.

Poste added: “They should be very proud of what they achieved.

“You can’t beat what we’ve worked so hard to nurture, and that’s a willingness to play for each other.

“It’s impossible to win a game like that without every one of them making a contribution – it just wouldn’t have happened.”

Northwich return to action on Saturday, January 6 when Douglas are their guests.