HOCKEY: A BAD-TEMPERED, encounter saw the spoils shared as little was resolved in this relegation battle.
Northop started strongly and had Runcorn under enormous pressure at the start but good defensive work from Kay, Steele and Partridge weathered the storm.
The half developed into a more flowing style, with both teams counter attacking frequently.
Smith's searching long balls nearly found Shallcross and Corke, but the attacks just fell short.
Twenty minutes in and a more structured raid saw Runcorn take the lead. A hit by O'Brien led to Corke calmly converting from around the penalty spot.
Tempers erupted in a number of collisions, and Looker was sinbinned for dissent but Northop failed to take advantage.
The second half was evenly fought with several chances for Corke and Shallcross, all not taken.
Fifteen minutes from time, Northop levelled from a goal-mouth scramble. nIn other men's action, Run-corn 1sts look to have made themselves safe with a 3-2 win at home to West Cumbria. The thirds maintained their hold on third place behind a clean sheet from Chris Moss.
Goals from Geoff Dykes and Andy Pickering helped them to a win.
Runcorn Ladies defeated Newton-le-Willows 8-4 with an outstanding performance in a friendly at Brookvale.
With a full squad of 15, Runcorn received a confidence boost for big matches in March against Warrington, Chester & District and Didsbury Northern which will determine whether they finish first or second.
After historically battling relegation, Runcorn are finding the whole top-of-the-league situation exciting and the prospect of Division Three hockey next season is becoming even stronger.
Runcorn dominated play without forcing an early breakthrough. But a roll-on, roll-off substitution system meant everyone got a chance.
Karen Jones opened the scoring with the first of her hat-trick and four-goal Sue Allen soon added the second.
Newton squeezed one in past Kate Smallwood, just before half-time, to make it 2-1 to Runcorn.
Despite captain Lisa Janion rallying the team, Newton equalised.
However, Runcorn were on allout attack with some exceptional work from their midfield and forwards producing shot after shot. Becca Brown got the other goal.
Allen, who joined from rivals Widnes a few seasons ago, has 12 league goals and 45 goals in all this season, making her one of the highest scorers in the league.
Runcorn entertain Bowdon in another friendly this Saturday.
Training for both the men's and ladies' teams is at Brookvale Leisure Centre every Tuesday (6pm-7pm for juniors, 7pm-8pm for adults).
For any more information visit www.runcornladieshc.com or www.runcornhockey.co.uk