Northwich 14 Stockport 5

NORTHWICH finally delivered a performance they have been capable of producing all season to take them out of the drop zone and towards North West Two sustainability.

The 'Blacks' thoroughly deserved this impressive victory against promotion contenders Stockport and it was all down to the intensity and sense of purpose displayed by the whole Northwich team. They were first out of the blocks and pressured the visitors from the off and Aussie Gold Coast winger Stacey Hosking produced a dream start when he dived over in the bottom right hand corner after only five minutes of play. He then composed himself to convert from the touch line to prove his often underestimated kicking ability. He then came close to stretching the lead when a long range penalty just fell short. The 'Blacks' kept up the momentum and a powerful Rick Smith break and off load created the space for Jonathan Simpson to score under the posts. Stacey converted to produce a first quarter 14-0 lead.

Stockport picked themselves up and started to get back into the fray. Stand off Tom Eaton began to look dangerous and on the 35 minute mark he set up winger Greg Newton for a deserved try. The conversion was missed and the 'Blacks' held on to the half time whistle.

The second half was a war of attrition with each side giving as good as they got. Both teams defended resolutely but as the game wore on it was the hosts who looked the more dangerous and flanker Pete Pattenden was unlucky not to be awarded a push over try. Coach Reid sensibly only made one late substitution when he replaced prop Gez Gough with Daniel Davey. This meant that the 'Blacks' kept their shape and No 8 Graham Robinson gave a full 80 minute man of the match performance.

Northwich entertain Wilmslow in the semi final of the Cheshire Vase KO 2.30pm on Saturday. Wilmslow have already realised promotion and will provide a real test for what will be a slightly under strength Northwich. Chris James is in Australia and Jan Cartman is also unavailable.

The 2nd XV got back to winning ways and beat Altrincham Kersal 36-3. The 3rds completed a good day all round and defeated Whitchurch at Moss Farm 20-3.