Sandbach finished off their first season of National League rugby with an 11 try romp against an already relegated Derby Team. Twelve months earlier Derby, like Sandbach, topped their league (Midlands 1 East) and won promotion to the National Leagues. Despite that early similarity however this season’s results for the two clubs could hardly have been more different. Derby failed to retain their promotion winning squad and despite tremendous spirit at the club and many talented youngsters they just couldn’t handle competition at this level. Sandbach on the other hand have thrived at this level. Were it not for a set of five mid-season games, where they surrendered their lead in the final five minutes, the Bradwall Road club could have been looking at a top-4 finish in a very tough league. Currently Sandbach lie in 7th place and must wait another week to find out whether local Potteries rivals, Longton, can win their game in hand to steal 7th place from them.
Picked up some weirdos for the trip back to Sandbach
Despite their lowly position and the news of the tragic loss of their manager John Tizard a few hours before kick-off, Derby showed incredible strength of character and started the game at great pace and for 10 minutes pegged the visitors in their 22 and forced Sandbach to concede a number of penalties. Sandbach retained their composure and weathered the initial onslaught and, as the adrenalin drained from the home team, they gradually took control. In the 12th minute dynamic forward play coupled with straight running from the backs saw Player/Coach Simon Verbickas open the scoring with a line break on the 22 and a simple run-in. Benny Elliot took the extra points.
Derby didn’t take this lying down however and they soon turned up the heat to force Sandbach to concede another penalty, this time kickable, to put their first score on the sheet. Derby fought hard over the next 5 minutes but a charging run from Gaz Caen drove close to the Derby line was quickly recycled to loose forward Mike Egglestone who wasn’t going to be stopped from 5 metres. Elliot scored the conversion kick.
From this point Sandbach scored 4 more tries in the first half; one approximately every 5 minutes. Jack Leech, Jack Seddon, Benny Elliot and Jonny Lea all crossed the whitewash and Elliot scored 3 more conversions.
HT Derby 3 – 40 Sandbach
The potential pitfall of a 1st half performance like this is the players get try-line fever and teamwork goes out of the door. This squad however have learnt so much this season and didn’t fall into that trap. They held their shape, kept playing the rehearsed patterns and more tries soon followed. In the opening 15 minutes of the 2nd half, Sandbach scored 3 more tries, this time from Matt Jackson, Elliot and Verbickas who both completed their brace.
Showing all their character, Derby refused to lie down and scored a well-worked try in the corner. Quite rightly the spirited and knowledgeable Derby supporters went wild as they recognised the effort and fortitude required to come back and score a try after taking such a beating in the previous 60 minutes. That score alas was not the start of a comeback as Sandbach tightened up their play and scored two more tries, one apiece from Dan Massey and Tom Herd before the final whistle.
After the match Coach Simon Verbickas, praised the team for their skill and discipline on the day. To score 73 points against anyone is tough, but against a team in the National Leagues and as emotionally charged as Derby were that day, illustrates how far this team has come since Verbickas joined the club 3 years ago.
Sandbach 2nd 44 : 10 Aldwinians
Not to be outdone by their 1st Team colleagues Sandbach 2nd Team scored 44 points to beat Aldwinians to secure promotion to the Bateman BMW Premier League next season. Sandbach 2nd Team currently top their league with just one game to play. Sandbach 1st and 2nd Teams train together as a single squad and two promotions in consecutive seasons speaks volumes for the great rugby being played at Sandbach this season.
Next season Sandbach 2nd Team will be playing against the 2nd teams of National League One teams such as Fylde, Macclesfield and Sedgely Park. In broad terms this equates to Level 6 rugby which is an outstanding achievement for any 2nd Team. Sandbach 2nds play their final game of the season at Bradwall Road on Saturday when they can clinch the league title against Rossendale. 3.00pm KO