Sandbach continue to impress the faithful and confound the ‘Experts’ as they emphatically beat South Leicester at Bradwall Road on Saturday. All 17 of the online National 3 Pundits Prediction League anticipated a loss for Sandbach on Saturday and all 17 got it wrong!
South Leicester are one of the well-established teams in National 3 Midlands and their game is based around a very heavy pack of forwards who use their size and experience to grind away at the opposition. There’s no doubt that for the first 20 minutes of this match that tactic was working although, other than a rather generous Penalty Try, the method had failed to breach the Sandbach defence.
Gradually Sandbach weathered the storm and began to take control as assured handling and astute tactical kicking from Will Cargill started to test the fitness of the visitors’ pack. Josh Longson and Ali burton began to find gaps around the fringes forcing the Leicester team to step back and reorganise time and time again.
On the 35 minute mark, the Sandbach high-tempo game finally bore fruit as, with the ball moving from one side of the park to another, Benny Elliot ran over to score a great try as reward for some really outstanding close, sharp passing involving both backs and forwards. With their tails now up Sandbach swarmed back after the restart and good carries from Will Stockdale and Matt Beesley helped the home team drive play to within 15 metres of the Leicester line where they were eventually adjudged to have handled the ball on the ground. Cargill took the 3 points from the resulting penalty to give Sandbach a well-deserved 8-7 lead at half time.
Following the break the Sandbach team threw everything at the visitors and in a thrilling 25 minutes scored 4 unanswered tries, the first of which came from Matt Pollen and was quite typical for Sandbach. A few forward drives to suck in the defence and then the ball whipped out wide with speed to Pollen who ran in unopposed with Richard Murray outside also unopposed. Cargill missed the conversion from the touchline.
The second Sandbach try of the half was scored by Jack Seddon who controlled the ball at the back of a line-out drive and chose his moment well to break from the maul and dive over to score. Elliot took the extra 2 points. The next Sandbach score was another Penalty Try, the second in the game awarded by the referee and the second to puzzle both players and supporters alike. Elliot took the extra points.
The final Sandbach try came as a result of a scrum on the half way line when eventual Man of the Match, Longson, broke the gain line, was tackled but recycled the ball quickly to Cargill who stepped inside his defender and shot the ball wide to Pollen. A quick pass to Jack Leech and then back to Pollen left the defence chasing shadows as Pollen dived over to complete his brace for the game.
Credit to Leicester and a lesson to Sandbach though as the visitors came back strongly to score two excellent tries, separated only by a Ben Elliot penalty in response, and thus add an element of respectability to the score. In the dying moments of the game and with the referee about the blow the final whistle Elliot kicked a massive drop-goal from just inside the Leicester half to finish the game at 38-22.
That result leaves Sandbach 4th in National 3 Midlands as they prepare to visit Newport (Salop) for their 7th game of the season. Another close encounter beckons as the high scoring Newport attack face the stingy Sandbach defence.
This Saturday at Bradwall Road Sandbach 2nd Team face Leigh in what promises to be a stunning contest. Sandbach Twos are currently in 2nd place in Division 1 of the North West Intermediate leagues, separated from the top spot only on points difference. Worth a visit as Eggy and Jacko (both return from injury) join George Oakey, Dan Stubbs and Joe Hickey to push hard for a slot in the 1st Team.