Midlands Two West (North)

Newcastle 15 Whitchurch 21

Whitchurch moved a step closer to a perfect league record but only after they made life very tough for themselves with a tight win against Newcastle (Staffordshire).

The champions looked in charge with a 21-0 lead, had chances to have increased that margin, before the Staffordshire hosts rallied with a couple of touchdowns in the last quarter to make the scoreline closer than it should have been.

The Reds, however, were not to be denied their 20th straight win in the league, and are now just two games away from completing an unbeaten season.

Next up is a trip to basement side Cleobury Mortimer on Saturday, before bringing the curtain down on their league campaign at home to Leek the following week.

Coach Scott Sturdy admitted Whitchurch gave Newcastle too much hope in getting back into the game but insists the scoreline flattered their hosts as Whitchurch move towards a 100 per cent record.

“The score did not reflect the game,” said Sturdy after the Reds returned from Newcastle with another victory under the belts.

“Had a couple of decisions gone for us, and had we taken our chances, then it could have ended up being a 40-point game.

“If we can to through the league unbeaten, then we’ll give ourselves a pat on the back, but we’re looking no further than this week.

“We’ve got six or seven out at the moment for various reasons, but we’re still winning games, and we’re showing that we fully deserve to be moving up a level next season.”

Whitchurch put 50 points past Cleobury on the opening day, but, despite propping up the table, the south Shropshire hosts underlined their improvements with last weekend’s 34-30 win against Walsall.

When the league is done and dusted, Whitchurch will turn their thoughts to the North Mids Shield when they host Malvern in the semi-final on Saturday, May 5.

Before then, there is still work to be done in the league, and the Reds know there can be no half measures after being given a scare by Newcastle.

It proved a tight affair for the first half hour against the Staffordshire men who defended stoutly and proved hard to break down.

Despite a couple of opportunities, the visitors had to wait until the 32nd minute before getting their first points on the board with a penalty try following four scrums on the home line, which saw the hosts’ tight head prop yellow carded for his infringements.

Six minutes later, fly half Ryan Horton dummied this way over the line following another scrum, a try which he also converted for a 14-0 interval lead.

Whitchurch looked well in the ascendancy when bagging a third try after the break as a terrific team move from deep ended with centre Henry Hockenhull switching the ball to wing Matt Davies, who darted over the whitewash with Horton adding the extras.

Newcastle reduced the arrears with a penalty, but the Reds were again back on the attack as they chased a fourth try and a bonus point.

However, despite being camped on the home line, they could count themselves unfortunate to be denied further scores after the hosts appeared to kill the ball with some desperate defence.

After surviving the pressure, Newcastle then hit back with a couple of tries, the first courtesy of some slack defence, followed by a well taken effort.

From being well ahead, Whitchurch now saw their lead trimmed to just six points with eight minutes remaining, but managed to see the game out to return with another win. Whitchurch Seconds, who were without a game last weekend, return to duty in the North West Sale Sharks League division two (south) with a home fixture with Bowdon Seconds on Saturday. They currently lie seventh in the table.

Whitchurch Thirds, sitting mid-table in the Howells and Co Division Four (South), were involved in a 24-24 home draw with Knutsford. They are again at home on Saturday when they welcome Macclesfield Fourths, with all games kicking off at 3pm.

nMeanwhile, the club is holding an event to raise funds on Friday night with a Quiz and Curry Night.

It kicks-off at 7pm with the quiz starting at 7.30pm and it is a maximum of four in a team at £5 per person.

Dave Windsor will be the quizmaster on the night.