On a very windy day Sandbach made its first visit to Widnes, to play Union though not league!!
A good turnout meant that Sandbach had a strong squad available, and this soon told as Sandbach took control from the start. Good battling forwards play and some swift passing through the backs and we were on the front foot, helped it has to be said by a strong tail wind.
From a penalty gained from the scrum, a good offload, drive by Owen and a pass to Tom King, another drive with a good offload and Jamie is there to power over for the first try of the game. Conversion missed.
From the restart Sandbach are pressing again, all parts of the team are working very well. This is typified by a huge drive from the pack turning over the ball in the scrum, a quick ball passed along the backs and James is over for the second try. Missed conversion
Widnes finally apply some pressure from the restart, but a kick over the line allows Sandbach a 22yard drop out. From this and a subsequent penalty for offside and Sandbach are again on the attack. A strong drive from Tom MacCuish followed by more good passing along the line sees Alex charging for the line, one more pass and Tom King crosses for the try. Missed conversion
Widnes again try to build pressure from the kick pressing right to the try line, but are held up. As they pass along their line an interception and Sandbach are back in Widnes half. Sandbach are now rolling on subs but still pressing hard. More great play from the forwards and more turnover ball has Sandbach searching for another try, Isaac unlucky to be tackled just short of the line. But the pressure continues, and more good forward play followed by crisp movement of the ball along the backs sees Joe running over to score. Conversion missed.
The second half starts with Widnes having the wind behind them, and the difference is immediate, now it is their turn to pile on the pressure, turning over the ball in a maul suddenly the Widnes players are jinking through Sandbach and making yards, more good handling and they run over for their first score of the game. Conversion missed
Now the boot is well and truly on he other foot, Widnes pile on the pressure both in the scrum and open play making gains with each carry. Changes to the Sandbach team seem to have lost some of the shape and organisation, and most importantly tackles are now being missed. Unsurprisingly the Widnes pressure tells and they run in a second try. Missed conversion
From the kick off Widnes immediately start to press, some scrappy play from Sandbach and renewed vigour and fight from Widness and they have a penalty inside the Sandbach 22. From the tap penalty no one steps up and Widnes crash through for a third try. Finally a conversion is made.
Sandbach bring back the big guns of the pack and the difference is immediate, and the game turns again. Now The Sandbach forwards are driving Widness back, and finally in the second half we are putting them under pressure. This time Sandbach are awarded a penalty in the Widnes 22, and from the tap John crashes over to score Sandbach's first points of the second half. Missed conversion
From the kick off are pressing again and suddenly Owen Breaks free with no one in front but the challenge of having to run half the length of the pitch to score, with a look of horror at the prospect he quickly offloads to his brother who unfortunately is overhauled by the Widnes winger.
The game ends with Sandbach still pressing hard. An excellent game with both sides working hard and playing well in tricky conditions. From my perspective In the first half Sandbach played some of the best rugby they have played all season with good aggression, good handling and very good movement with both Forwards and Backs working together as an attacking unit.
The changes to the squad seemed to cause Sandbach to lose some shape and structure even though the lads who came on all worked hard, Widnes pounced on this to run in three quick tries before normal service was resumed.
So plenty to think about but overall an excellent win and some excellent Rugby to watch.