A much improved and altogether steadier performance by Sandbach saw them beat the ‘other’ SRUFC team in National 3: Midlands. After a two and a half hour trip across the M62 we stepped off the bus into a raw easterly wind laced with flecks of sleet. Thankfully the squall passed quickly and it was time to get into the contest.Seeking to make an early confidence boosting impact, coach Simon Verbickas had planned to get the ball to main strike runner Dan Massey as quickly as possible. The opportunity came inside two minutes when, following a series of forward drives from the kick-off, the Sandbach pack took the ball well into the opposition half. A quick pass out from the scrum and a deft crossover allowed Massey to break through the defensive line at speed and score under the posts. Benny Elliot slotted the conversion and Sandbach were 7-0 ahead with less than 5 minutes played.
In order not to get sucked into a relegation battle, it was vital that Scunthorpe win this match and they certainly tried their hardest over the next 30 minutes. Despite their effort and energy however, it was Sandbach that controlled the game: their scrummage was magnificent and their line-out, whilst not as tidy was equally as effective.
Although the majority of the half was played out in Scunthorpe territory, Sandbach were unable to convert the chances that came their way. Perhaps desperate to improve over last week’s performance, players were sometimes holding onto the ball a little too long or over-complicating a move when a simple pass would have been more effective.
Width versus Depth
Despite this Sandbach pressure it was the home team who broke the deadlock in the 35th minute with fine penalty kick conceded for Offside. Two minutes after that, Richard Murray finally managed to score the try that Sandbach had been threatening for the previous 30 minutes. Holding wide on the left wing, “Muzza” took a pass 10 metres out and with a combination of guile and tenacity beat three defenders and score a well-deserved try in the corner. Elliot just missed the long conversion.
HT Scunthorpe 3 : 12
We scored a try each! How many did you get?
Scunthorpe opened the 2nd half at a furious pace, but great defence across the park especially from Ross Sutherland, Marcus Broad and Josh Longson extinguished the Scunthorpe running game. Elliot, coming back into top form, was very solid under the high ball and easily took care of any aerial threat. Gradually Sandbach took the ascendency again and on 16 minutes forced the home team into conceding a kickable penalty, which Elliot took with ease.
Sandbach continued to use their width, giving wingers Murray and Jack Leech plenty of opportunity to run at the defence. Muzza is in a rich vein of form at present and was a constant threat on the left side of the Sandbach attack. On 30 minutes, and after a period of sustained Sandbach pressure on the right, Sandbach spun the ball at pace to the left wing where a great cover tackle stopped the try only for Sandbach to re-cycle the ball quickly and shoot it all the way back across to the right wing, where Beesley in yards of space, generously passed the ball to Ali Burton who stumbled over to score a well-deserved try. Elliot hit an excellent conversion from the touch line.
In the last 10 minutes, Scunthorpe pulled up their socks and started to play some decent rugby, slick passing supported by strong forward work recycling the ball was causing the visitors some real problems. With four minutes on the clock the home team eventually got the reward for their efforts with a nice try from the forwards. In the remaining time, Sandbach coach Simon Verbickas returned to the pitch just to steady the nerves and play out the remaining seconds.
The game on a page
In summary a much improved performance over the previous week with the 3rd and final try being an example of what simple rugby played at pace can achieve. Thanks to Scunthorpe for their hospitality and the great little Grandstand; this impressed us all.
Next week Sandbach travel to Nuneaton for a rearranged fixture. We’ve only played “The Nuns” once before and they beat us…. We don’t want that to become a habit ! (See what I did there??)
READ THE SCUNTHORPE REPORT HERE: