Midlands Two West (North)

Old Saltleians 10 Whitchurch 53

Leaders Whitchurch made a storming start to the new year by hitting the half-century mark away to Old Saltleians to tighten their grip at the top.

The Reds were soon into their stride with wing Tom Davies crossing in the left corner after the ball was passed along the line.

A second touchdown soon arrived on the opposite flank when, following a good passage of play, Ryan Horton’s chip was caught by Tom Skone who passed inside to forward Jack Furnival who sped over the line.

Centre Henry Hockenhull added a third touchdown when slicing through the defence after being fed by Mike Gardiner, Horton adding the conversion for a healthy 17-0 lead.

Old Salts, who narrowly lost at Edgeley Park earlier in the season, then rallied through their big forwards as Whitchurch struggled to maintain their early impetus.

Errors crept into the visitors’ play, and their lead was trimmed to 17-10 at the break as the hosts ran in a couple of excellent tries, the first from

But the league leaders were soon in charge of the second half to run in six unanswered tries.

Hockenhull went over for his second try of the game to secure the bonus point.

Fullback Skone then crossed for a well-worked touchdown in the corner, and a penalty try under the posts put the visitors in command at 34-10.

They continued to press, with Horton dummying to cut his way through the defence for a fine try, but his conversion attempt struck the upright.

Skone then bent a kick over the defence for replacement fullback Ollie Brown to run on and score an eighth try, with Horton converting to extend the lead.

Wing Davies, who had opened the scoring, then completed the rout with his second try of the game, with Horton again supplying the extras to round off a 53-10 victory.

It was the perfect start to the month as the Reds look to tighten their grip at the top by clinching a double over Crewe & Nantwich this weekend having won away when the sides met earlier in the season.

The following week, the Reds entertain Nottinghamshire side Newark in the Midlands semi-final of the RFU Intermediate Cup before ending the month with a crunch showdown against second-placed Spartans.

Selection has been boosted with a number of players returning to fitness, but Matt Owen is still sidelined with a dislocated thumb and Robbie Leighton is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery.

n After their Christmas break, Whitchurch Seconds started the new year in fine fettle in the Sale Sharks North West League division two (south) with a 46-7 beating of Chester Thirds at Edgeley Park.

With a strong pool of players available, it was just the result the Reds needed after a run of defeats had seen them slip down the table to eighth.

They ran in eight tries, with No8 Ian Gillespie crossing for a hat-trick, while scrum half George Cope, wings Rob Earl and Tom Wellsbury and flanker James Ryder also went over, along with a penalty try. Lee Blackhurst kicked two conversions.

The Reds’ second string will now look to build on that win on Saturday when they visit Manchester club Aldwinians Seconds who lie a couple of places above them.

n Whitchurch Thirds remain in the bottom two places in the North West division four (south) after their battling 38-19 reverse away to their Crewe & Nantwich counterparts.