Broughton Park 19 Northwich 14
THIS, like at least three others this season was a game that Northwich could have won. Instead they now face a relegation dog fight with Vale of Lune to decide who will join Tyldesley and Winnington if the league decides that three teams have to go down. Hopefully only two will take the drop and it might even be that yet another league restructure will save Park in their centenary season.
Buoyed by their win over Lymm the 'Blacks' travelled with a certain amount of optimism to take on 3rd placed Broughton at Hough End Manchester.
The game demonstrated that there is no way that Northwich should be in the position they find themselves in.
They took the lead at two stages and were 14-10 up at the break only to loose their shape and allow the prolific goal kicker Ronan O'Brien to slot over three second half penalties to keep his team in the chase for a play off promotion hope.
O'Brien opened the scoring after ten minutes when a Northwich forward failed to roll away and five minutes later matters got worse when flanker Pete Pattenden was sent to the bin for killing the ball.
Fortunately Broughton opted for a scrum which they failed to win and the 'Blacks' counter attack resulted in a penalty for Stacey Hosking. Pattenden was still off the pitch when further Northwich pressure gave Hosking his second penalty to put the visitors in the lead. Northwich gave as good as they got but on the half hour mark Broughton produced a flowing backs move for winger Adam Knight to score in the corner. O'Brien converted against the wind to make it 10-6 but a third penalty from Hosking kept the 'Blacks' in touch and deep into injury time another Northwich driving maul gave Fred Taylor the touch down. Hosking missed the conversion but Northwich richly deserved the interval lead.
In the second half the 'Blacks' gave their all but following the rejigging of the pack when coach Paul Reid substituted the slightly flagging Graham Robinson they seemed to loose their shape. Despite Broughton, at different times, having two of their players sent to the sin bin Northwich failed to maintain their forward domination and the three second half penalties from the gifted O'Brien kept the Mancunians promotion dreams alive.
The whole team played well but man of the match was Chris James who seems to have found his best position at hooker, the position his proud dad Barry held for over twenty years, it must be in the blood!
Northwich entertain 2nd placed Stockport at Moss Farm this Saturday, KO 2.15pm and who knows a real upset and league security is not an impossibility.
Northwich: Taylor, James, Gough (Heath 70), Heywood, Simpson, Pattenden, Naylor, Robinson (Davey 50), Davies, Dale, Chubb, Campbell (C), Smith, Bown, Hosking.
Northwich 2nds lost the plot at Moss Farm and went down 16-7 to Crewe and Nantwich. Ross Walker scored a try and Ricky Evans converted.
The 3rds completed a black day all round and got a thumping at Liverpool St Helens 40-3.