“A dominant display for 55 minutes all for naught as Newport find the crack in the Sandbach armour.”
A glorious winter’s afternoon was the scene for the visit of Newport (Salop) Rugby Club to Bradwall Road. The confident Newport side were riding the crest of a wave, having put together a remarkable run of results, propelling them rapidly up through the National Three Midlands League. That confidence was beginning to look a little shaky however as they spent the first 35 minutes of this game unable to break out of their own half! In this opening onslaught the home side were magnificent. Scrums, line-outs, rucks and mauls were tight, efficient and well executed, effectively denying the visitors any possession on which to build an attack.
The only possible criticism of the Sandbach performance, which would come back to haunt them later in the game, was an impatience to force the game and create a ‘Glory’ moment. Passes were overstretched, breaks went a pace or so too far and kicks were forced beyond accuracy and safety.
Sandbach dominance in this period was total, and despite some ferocious defence from a team at the top of its game, Sandbach eventually forced a try on 30 minutes. A typically effective line-out led to a rolling maul, against which Newport had no answer, which drove quickly to the try-line and allowed Jack Seddon to score a well-served 5 points. Benny Elliot took the extra two points.
Eggy, Beezer and Stockers Drive Forward
Sandbach kept up the pressure for the final 10 minutes, but ominously Newport gradually began to gain more possession as their confidence grew and they realised that they had survived almost 40 minutes of torrid pressure and only conceded a single converted try.
HT: Sandbach 7 : 0 Newport
The opening 10 minutes of the second half were much more balanced than the first half; Sandbach retained their dominance in the set pieces, but Newport began to recycle the ball, much more effectively. Strong midfield runners from the Shropshire team were gradually putting pressure on the Sandbach defence and beginning to break up the previously watertight defensive patterns.Despite the Newport resurgence it was Sandbach that scored first in the second half with an almost carbon copy of their first try, this time Josh Longson being the man at the tail to finish off a disciplined move.
So 14 minutes into the second half and the home team were leading 12 – 0 and looking comfortable if not exerting the same level of control as the first half.Now whether by design or good fortune, Newport changed tactics and started to kick long balls over the Sandbach defence and put pressure on the Sandbach defence. There’s a saying in rugby that a “Kick is only as good as the Chase”, and here Newport excelled; after each kick they tore after the ball and gave the back three no time to settle before forcing a turnover or error from the home team.
On 18 minutes, following a long kick and wicked bounce, Newport swarmed forward and recovered the ball, passed it quickly across their backs to score in the left corner. The try was unconverted.Newport continued to exploit this tactic, and perhaps it wouldn’t have been so effective had the home team been a little more patient in their gameplay. Unfortunately some of the symptoms of their failure to capitalise on their first half dominance resurfaced; moves were overstretched, passes were over ambitious and breaks were taken a step too far. Despite this Sandbach showed some marvellous skills and fortitude against a now rampant Newport side, only to lose possession as a moment of potential brilliance was lost by overstepping line between enthusiasm and impatience.
Newport, having found a tactic that was working, continued to feed off Sandbach errors, steal possession and then punt the ball long and swamp the Bradwall Road defence with numbers of marauding attackers. They scored their second try on 25 minutes (also unconverted). With their original lead now reduced to just two points Sandbach raised their game and started to come back only to see an un-forced error give possession back to Newport, who hoofed the ball back into the Sandbach 22 and swarmed forward again.
With 5 minutes left one such attack, found the Greens defence wanting as Newport went over to score their third try and take the final score to 12 – 15 to the Shropshire team.
It’s easy to stand on the side-line and record instances of where playing the percentages and a little more patience would have been the correct move, but this current Sandbach team is very young and full of skills, confidence and enthusiasm; experience takes time and is hard earned. With each game at this level the players will realise that their brand of rugby and individual skills are deserving of a top three spot in this league. It takes 30 seconds to score a try; we don’t need to score from every move.
The Expressions say it all