They Shall Not Pass!!
A fantastic all round performance on the road from the Bradwall Road side as they scored 4 tries but, perhaps more significantly, prevented the talented Leicester team from bothering the scoreboard. This really was a strong, clinical performance from Sandbach, especially given the number of players missing or injured.With a bitterly cold wind blowing diagonally across the pitch Sandbach started the game with the wind at their backs but found it very difficult to wrest the ball from the fired-up Syston team. For the first 10 minutes it was all Syston as they recycled the ball well and caused Sandbach a number of problems in the set pieces. Fortunately for Sandbach, their hosts were unable to turn pressure into points, even to the extent of eschewing reasonable penalty attempts on goal for kicks to touch.
After 18 minutes and in their first real assault on the Syston line, Sandbach forwards drove steadily towards the line recycling well via scrum-half Mark Bird, before the number 9 took a step and popped the ball cleverly to Chris Davenport on a charge. Davenport crashed over from 8 metres to score the try. Will Cargill, taking over kicking duties made a difficult conversion look easy as he added the extra points.
Having taken the sting from the Syston attack, the game became more balanced and although the home team were still edging the possession statistics they were unable to breach the well organised Sandbach defence. The next Sandbach score came from a scrum on the Syston 10 metre line. A long pass from Bird, gave Cargill the space to make a diagonal break through the charging Syston defence and then loft a long pass into the arms of winger Rich Murray. ‘Muzza’ slipped into his Gerry Guscott impersonation mode and seemed to ooze past the Syston full back to score a fine try.
In the 38th minute Matt Beesley’s youthful enthusiasm got the better of him and was yellow-carded for a blatant offside tackle at a ruck 10 metres from the Sandbach line. Typically though Sandbach reorganised and powered back up the pitch to score a text book try. From a lineout Sandbach went through two perfect pick and drive moves before the ball was spun quickly to Dan Massey, who from 30 metres out, hit the ‘turbocharge’ button and cut through the home team defence and score Sandbach’s third try of the half. Cargill took the extras.
HT Syston 0 : 19 Sandbach
During the break, Sandbach Physio, Cath Nash decided that Ally Burton and Josh Longson had finished their afternoon’s activities and Matt Jackson and Joel Unsworth stepped up to face the Leicester side. They must have wondered what had hit them, as Syston, with the wind at their backs, mounted almost 25 minutes of unremitting pressure on the boys from Bradwall.
Perhaps Syston were lacking that final injection of creativity, but Sandbach deserve huge credit for their defence; Cargill, Marcus Broad, Dan Massey and Jack Leech tackled as if their very lives depended on it. Gaz, Caen, Joey Barton and Will Stockdale contested every scrap of possession and disrupted any attempt by the Syston pack to take control.
During this period there were occasional attacks by Sandbach, including a couple of 35 metre rolling mauls and an excellent break but Murray, who was surprisingly outpaced by the chasing Syston prop. For the most part though, Sandbach just soaked up the pressure, reorganised well and snuffed out any attempts by the home team to get points on the board.
The final score of the game came on 75 minutes as Sandbach won a lineout 10 metres out and began to trundle towards the Syston line. The ball was recycled twice before substitute 9, George Oakey, dummied wide and dived through the boots of the defence to take a great opportunists try. Cargill took the two extra points for the game to finish 0-26 to the visitors.
The top 5 teams all won on the day and so Sandbach stay in 5th place albeit with a slightly increased cushion above Broadstreet in 6th place.
Next Saturday, 2nd placed Ampthill RFC visit Bradwall Road for what promises to be another thunderous game. Ampthill from Bedfordshire played in National 3 (London and SE) last season and have declared their intentions to win outright promotion. We hope to spoil those plans on the first ever meeting between the two teams.