Sandbach Saxons played at home against Stoke and Sandbach Sharks visited West Park St Helens.
Sharks v West Park (77-0) - 1 game played
We have not played West Park previously and were looking forward to it. We made player changes to the scrum half, full back and inside centre. We started brightly and our movement on and off the ball was excellent. Some early handling errors were soon forgotten as we passed the ball well and scored our first try. With this our confidence built up and our team and new positions gelled well. In the second half we did not have as much play as we had in the first half as WP came out with steely determination. Some excellent handwork and footwork ensure that WP were not able to enforce their home advantage. All tries scored were successfully converted by Callum and Giles. Special mention must go to the players in new positions who played marvellously - Marcus Cook, Giles Cantello and Ben Brookes. Our man of the match as selected by the WP coach was Ike McCormick.
Saxons - Stoke (17-59) - 3 games played - match reports by Julia Hearn (brilliant)
Game 1 - Sandbach 5 (Maddie try, no conv) : Stoke 24 (4 trys, 2 conv)
We started slowly and were not awake. Stoke scored a try in the first few minutes by running through our tackles, down our Right Wing. Then again shortly after, Stoke passed the ball out wide to our Left Wing, and ran through the tackles there to score another try.
After Coach Ken had a few choice words (enthusiastic and encouraging, no doubt), we then had a good period of attacking play, where we were putting Stoke under pressure by their try line. Despite this possession and a few good lineouts, Sandbach were not able to convert this positive play in to a try. Stoke again passed the ball out to our Right Wing to score their third try.
Whilst we had Stoke under pressure and were agressive, giving them no time on the ball, Sandbach did look threatening, we were working well in both the scrums and lineouts, and from that,passing the ball out to our forwards.
After half time Stoke again took advantage of starting sharper, again going out to the Right Wing to score their third try. To Sandbach's credit they did not give up, and had good periods of attacking agressive play, which in the end paid dividends, providing Maddie the chance to get over the line and score a try. Everyone stepped up to the mark in the second half, and showed commitment and sharpness, which the coaches encouraged for the next game.
Second game Sandbach 0 : Stoke 14 ( 2 trys and 2 conv)
Sandbach started the second match showing much more determination and commitment than the first. The team were communicating and playing well together, and both sides were quite evenly matched for a good portion of the first half.
Then a few small mistakes crept in, the forwards were slow to clear the rucks out, which meant our players got penalised for holding on to the ball too long on the ground. Then upon restarting, our players were not ready and Stoke took their opportunity quickly to fly down the length of the pitch, but fortunately we defended well on our try line and prevented them scoring.
We ended this first half not having conceeded, and looking very strong in our scrums and lineouts.
In the second half we again started very well, the whole team working well together, retaining possession and putting Stoke under pressure when they had the ball.
Stoke's first try came as a result of a rare loss in the scrum, so they quickly took the ball and ran down our Left Wing, basically unchallenged.Sandbach regrouped and started pushing up the field again towards their try line, their resolve undimished. Unfortunately, a stray pass was intercepted, and Stoke ran through to score their second try.
Sandbach's effort and commitment was much improved in this match, but our errors led to Stoke scoring and winning the match.
Third match Sandbach 12 (2 trys Robbie and Alex, 1 conv J Hearn) : Stoke/Newcastle 21
Sandbach started well again, in this match. We showed good pressure, with both fowards and backs working well. Robbie took the chance to stretch his legs, and from one of their mistakes rang the whole length of the pitch to score a try, converted by James Hearn.
The backs were now dominating better in all areas, giving the forwards the chance to work the ball to advance up the pitch.
Again, Stoke's trys came as a result of our errors, and when they had the time to work the ball out to the wings, they had the opportunity to run through the tackles to score against us.
After half time, Alex Beech enjoyed running with the ball in hand, and finally with perseverance managed to get over the line and get the try he had worked hard for. Quite a few of our forwards enjoyed good runs with ball in hand, Maddie, Matty and James Hearn, all took their chances when they were presented.
Man of the match was given to Alex Beech, as despite a shaky start to the morning, he stood up to the challenge and got his rewards for his efforts. Well done!
All three matches were hard fought and our Sandbach players showed plenty of grit and determination, not giving up. Despite Sandbach retaining plenty of possession, our own small mistakes led to the opposition taking their chances and scoring their trys. Our tackling out on the wings, when the opposition is in full flight, is something that we need to work on, but everyone on the team tried hard, and all deserve a mention.