Leigh 8 Northwich 20

NORTHWICH lost key players Rick Smith and Chris James to first-half injuries, but found plenty in reserve, on Saturday.

The injury-strewn first period lasted an incredible 59 minutes as trainers treated their patients but it was within a minute of the restart that Northwich snatched the lead. Kiwi fullback Simon Pratt sprinted 50 metres to score in the left hand corner.

Matt Bebbington missed the conversion but the try overhauled Leigh’s early Terry Knapman penalty.

Captain Smith (twisted ankle) was replaced by Sam Naylor for his first game since a knee operation and Daniel Davey stood in for concussed hooker James and it was the tenacity of Davey and his fellow front row work horses Jan Cartman and Gez Gough who saw the Blacks through.

Ten minutes into the second half Bebbington cleverly kicked ahead and starlet Joel Barber out paced the defence to score his third try in as many outings.

Bebbington converted to stretch the lead to 12-3 but some poor decision making gifted a forwards try to Leigh hooker Ian Wood.

Fortunately Knapman missed the conversion and an offside penalty gave Bebbington the opportunity to ease the pressure at 15-8. With 10 minutes of play remaining Northwich made the game safe when Jamie Miritana and Sam Naylor combined to set up replacement Richard Dale for a well deserved try.

The Blacks entertain Broughton Park on Saturday (3pm).

Other scores: Northwich 2nds 45 (Oultram 2, Senior, Bradfield, Lawler, Cubb, Taylor tries; Senior 5 cons) Broughton Park 2nds 12; Junior Colts - Northwich 28 (Ben Jones 2, James Underhill, Robin Houghton tries; Peter Devaney 4 cons) Caldy JC 29; U10s - Anselmians 2 Northwich 4 (Jordan Kennedy 2, Cameron Gooch, Alex Frith).