Midlands Two West (North)

Crewe and Nantwich 8, Whitchurch 34

Unbeaten Whitchurch move one point clear at the top of the table after maintaining their early season form with a 34-8 success away to arch rivals Crewe and Nantwich.

Victory, in which they ran in six tries to claim a bonus point, stretched the Reds’ winning run to five games, three in the league, and two in cup competitions.

Last weekend’s clash featured the two sides who had dropped down from Division One (North) last season.

After a fast and loose start, the Reds’ early pressure paid off when a clearance kick from the hosts was gathered by centre Mike Gardiner who outstripped the covering defenders to touch down for an unconverted try.

A penalty saw Crewe and Nantwich reduce the arrears, but Whitchurch started to turn up the heat in the last 10 minutes of the first half which ended with the hosts’ under pressure pack conceding a penalty try for bringing down a driving scrum.

The Cheshire outfit, however, hit back with a well worked try just before half-time, when their fly half sent a diagonal kick over the defence for the winger to touch down.

Despite seeing their lead trimmed to 12-8 at half-time, the Reds never looked back in the second period as they tightened their grip with the forwards having the upper hand.

For the second week running, Jack Furnival made a big impact in the back row after coming on as a second half replacement for the visitors.

As the Reds upped the ante, Crewe and Nantwich were forced into conceding a string of penalties. After kicking for touch, the visitors capitalised with a couple of forward tries from line outs.

Flanker Jimmy Hockenhull drove over for the first, fullback Tom Skone converting, and replacement hooker Darren Blackhurst went over in similar circumstances moments later.

Ian Gillespie, who had switched to prop, then scored the next touchdown from a scrum before, four minutes from time, a well worked move through several pairs of hands saw Skone cross the whitewash for the sixth and final try, with the conversion again missed.

They now set their sights on Saturday’s home tie with Matlock in the second round of the RFU Bowl (3pm), with their Derbyshire visitors going well in second place in the Midlands Two East (north).

Like Whitchurch, they have won all three games, and are certain to provide a tough hurdle if the north Shropshire men are to keep their flag flying in the competition.

n Whitchurch’s second string’s mixed fortunes continued in the North West League Division Two (South) after crashing 57-0 at Altrincham Kersal Seconds - the first of three games on the road.

They have lost three and won two high scoring games this term and will look to get back on track away to Capenhurst on Saturday.

The Reds found their slick Altrincham hosts too hot to handle, although they could take heart from their second half efforts that restricted their opponents to just one try.

n The third team put up an improved effort in the North West League Division Four (South) before going down 33-12 at home to Sandbach Thirds - their fourth defeat.

The game was far closer than the score suggests, and they will look to continue the improvements at home to Oswestry Seconds on Saturday.

n Meanwhile, there were better fortunes for the club’s colts team who ran out 41-7 winners against Wigan.