Northwich 21 New Brighton 10.
The Northwich committee were finally vindicated when their faith in coach Paul Reid and his squad produced a New Year fest in the form of a deserved victory against high flying New Brighton.
The bumper Moss Farm crowd were treated to a thrilling encounter which the 'Blacks' bossed from start to finish and a major feature of the excitement was the performances of the ex Northwich players Chris Dale and John Brotherton. Both are quality players and it is a pity that they decided to leave the 'Blacks' but both were bit part performers who made little impact in a New Brighton team that have now virtually blown their promotion prospects.
Chris had a torrid time with the referee and was yellow carded for the last ten minutes of the game for persistent arguing. A mixture of lack of ball in the hand and the fact that he was eclipsed by a superb performance by his younger brother Richard resulted in a loss of control for the ex England Colts player. For Brotherton also, who moved to the Wirral to improve his prospects, it turned out to be an afternoon he will want to forget as his once front row partner Jan Cartman gave him a master class in the art of propping.
There was no sign of Christmas over indulgence as the 'Blacks' ripped into their much vaunted visitors and in as many minutes they were 10-0 up courtesy of a Scott Hayes penalty and a short range powerful and individual Steve Campbell try which Hayes had no problem in converting. New Brighton tried to get back on terms and narrowed the gap with a Steve Dean penalty but his effort was cancelled out by a further Scott Hayes penalty and at half time Northwich thoroughly deserved their 13-3 lead.
The Northwich pack were in tremendous form and further pressure led to Hayes's third penalty to stretch the lead to 16-3 and with twenty minutes to go the game looked in the bag. By this time Reid had brought on Gaz Davies at scrum half for Steve Taylor and Rick Smith to replace Graham Robinson at No 8. Their additions had a positive effect but also spurred the visitors into a five minute purple patch during which stand off Richard Hopkin cut through to score near to the posts to enable an easy conversion from Dean to cut the deficit to 16-10. Any thoughts of a New Brighton comeback were dashed when with fifteen minutes remaining another Northwich attack saw the ball bounce off Sam Naylor's shoulder into the supporting arms of his captain Steve Campbell to score in the top left hand corner. Hayes was unable to convert, Chris Dale was sent to the bin and the 'Blacks' held firm to register a memorable victory.