CREWE & Nantwich took another step towards Twickenham as they continued their rich vein of form by crushing Eccles on Saturday.
They cruised into the fourth round of the Powergen Junior Vase competition with a fine display of attacking rugby.
By reaching the last 16 of the northern section, the club has progressed the furthest since the heady season when they played in the final at Twickenham seven years ago.
An exciting and highly-charged opening half hour, in which the ball was spun around at speed among both forwards and backs, saw the opposition facing an uphill struggle.
Stuart Van Wyk crashed over in the corner and then Don Nagtia, picking up the ball from the back of a winning five-metre scrum, dived successfully over the Eccles try line.
Danny Lynch, on song with his place kicking, converted both and then added a penalty goal to give Crewe a 17-0 half-time lead.
After the break the wretched conditions began to take a toll. Eccles had a brief glimpse of trying to rescue the game but missed two easy penalty attempts, with Lynch rubbing salt into the wound landing another penalty.
Crewe's defence was impenetrable with Toby Winterton, who was playing Colts rugby last season, impressing.
But a small squad and big injury list is a concern for the coaching staff. A club spokesman said: 'The highly competitive nature of the games is stretching the resources of the first-team squad.
'Added to the injury list on Saturday was captain Andreas Reckewerth, who joins vice-captain Danny Potts in what threatens to be a long-term lay-off. Hopefully, Andy O'Keeffe, Elliot Sproston and Ashley Blakemore will be back in the next two to three weeks.'
This week sees Crewe back to league duties and hoping to consolidate their second place when they travel to Widnes to play Birchfield. The seconds will be home to Ruskin Park seconds at Willaston, kick-off 2.30pm.
Moore 0 Sandbach 31:
The return of skipper Ray Jones inspired Sandbach to a convincing Cheshire Cup win on Saturday.
The inspirational captain has been out for six weeks after suffering a broken hand. His team-mates have struggled to hit a consistent vein of form in his absence but had little difficulty in this third-round tie.
Sandbach started slowly and seemed unable to transform pressure into scoring chances. But then flanker Russ Diamond latched on to a neat build-up and rounded a Moore prop before scoring in the corner.
The second came before the interval when Dan Massey made a break through the middle and fed Tim Jones, who capitalised. The game was made safe early in the second half when stand-off Tom Hughes picked up a loose ball to score an easy try.
From there on it was the Tim Jones show. The wide man kept pace with Ray Jones and Massey as they surged through the Moore defence, and he was on hand to turn the move into points. And he completed his hat-trick, cutting inside to score under the sticks after more good work from the influential Massey. Lee Pickles was successful with three of five conversions.
Skipper Jones, who was substituted 15 minutes before the end, was pleased with the win but said the performance could still have been better.
He added: 'I don't feel that we got out of third gear and there is a lot more to come. We did put together some nice moves in difficult conditions. I came through the game quite well but needed a rest before the end.'
Sandbach seconds beat Vale of Lune 13-10 in a game which featured 30 penalties and in excess of 35 scrums.
It was the first time Vale of Lune had visited in more than 20 years but the stop-start nature of this scrappy affair made it a poor spectacle.
Vale took the lead with a scrambled try before two penalties from Sandbach's Chris Greenhalgh. After the break, Martin Beecher showed some deft footballing skills to allow Will Rees to dive on to a loose ball and score a well-deserved try. The conversion took Sand-bach to a 13-5 lead.
Vale thundered into the Sandbach half and drove over for a try with 10 minutes to go. But Sandbach held on to get the result they deserved.
Sandbach's third team were beaten 22-5 by Sale Amateurs. Their unconverted try came though scrum-half Steve Sutton.