MARTIN Poste had hoped things would go smoothly on an afternoon when his Northwich side could clinch promotion as champions.

That meant Blacks claiming a bonus-point win, while at the same time avenging an opening-day defeat against neighbours Winnington Park.

“I’ll be able to get a new outfit if we do,” he quipped before kick-off.

“I’m so superstitious I’ve worn the same one every week.”

When Richard Dale sped down the right before touching down a first try in the third minute, things were going according to plan.

Ten minutes later, captain Chris Dale limped off with an injury caused by the impact of a tackle from opposite number Harry Stubbs.

Nick Baldwin, who had converted the visitors’ early try at Burrows Hill, then missed the target with a penalty.

Winnington were defending with discipline, showing the spirit asked for by coach Roger Pickering.

Northwich, as they have had to be repeatedly in recent weeks, were patient rather than worried.

It paid off, and they scored three more converted tries by the break.

Robin Houghton crossed in the corner, collecting Michael Bradshaw’s pass after the ball was moved slickly from right to left to create an overlap.

Dale then added an opportunist score after Park full-back Chris Sheppard and wing Craig Lamb allowed a kick forward to bounce on the home team’s 22-metre line.

Youngster Alex Glendinning darted over at the other end, a reward for Winnington applying pressure to their guests’ defence for the first time.

Curiously, nobody was updating the scoreboard.

Not that Northwich needed to look that in that direction for assurance.

Sam Naylor sprinted to the whitewash to notch another try for the Moss Farm outfit before the break after intercepting a pass on the halfway line.

Baldwin added extras each time.

The outcome was settled with the second period barely five minutes old.

Chris Heywood was gleeful after he glided over for Northwich, then James Underhill did the same in the right-hand corner.

Baldwin’s boot, ever reliable, made it 40-5.

An untidy spell, littered with penalties, followed.

Northwich centre James Reilly was sent to the sin bin in the middle of it, and he watched his teammates score a seventh try from the side-line.

Dale scampered after his own kick, although Chris James scooped up the ball after it bounced before sending in scrum-half Matthew Poste.

James got in on the act with five minutes left, by which time Winnington were visibly wilting against a more powerful – and fitter – foe.

Houghton claimed the final try, after Poste had tapped a penalty, which Baldwin again expertly converted from a wide position.

“We wanted to get the job done, and that’s what we did,” reflected Poste after the final whistle.

“It was messy in parts, and we can play much better than we showed, but those boys deserve to enjoy this moment.”

And they duly did, unfurling a banner in black and gold – the club’s distinctive colours – that simply read: ‘Northwich, champions’.

Park | Ridgway, Brown, Underdown, Dave Cross, Moriarty, Treacy, Evans, Stubbs, Allmark, Jack Williams, Lamb, Moran, Danny Williams, Glendinning, Sheppard Replacements Taylor, Gibbins, Marshall Try Glendinning

Northwich | Maddocks, James, Michael Bradshaw, Farley, Smith, Heywood, Naylor, Chris Dale, Poste, Underhill, Houghton, Reilly, Baldwin, Richard Dale, Barber Replacements Harrison, Grabski, Vaughan Tries Richard Dale (2), Houghton (2), Naylor, Heywood, Underhill, Poste, James Cons Baldwin (8)

Northwich Guardian:

Northwich players and officials celebrate their title-success on Saturday