A MID-AFTERNOON deluge, accompanied by lightning, made playing conditions too difficult for Cheshire's promising young side and was largely responsible for a last-minute defeat that has condemned them to relegation.
They badly needed a few old hands to control a tricky situation by concentrating on winning possession and then keeping it securely, but inexperience saw them throw away a safe situation 10 minutes from the end.
At that stage, they led 13-3, thanks to a fine try by Orrell full-back Ross Winney, plus its conversion and two penalties from fly-half Anthony Birley.
However, with legs tiring and the arrival of one or two substitutions damaging continuity, they lost their grip and were pinned relentlessly inside their own 22, as Northumbria sensed that they could still win.
Inevitably, the visitors' forwards powered their way over the line twice in 10 minutes and with fly-half Richard Windle, who had previously landed a penalty, converting the second one, Cheshire were condemned to fighting their way back next season, provided they can learn from this season's experience.
Skipper Colin Bentley did everything he could to keep his forwards going and his former club-mate, full-back Ross Winney, also had quite a good match.