Jekyll and Hyde performance sees Bach ship 19 points inside 22 minutes but come back to nearly take the game.
Apart from a suicidal opening 22 minutes this was a much improved Sandbach performance against the well-organised side from Leicestershire. Despite conceding nearly a point per minute for the opening 20 minutes, Sandbach came back to control the game and lead until victory was cruelly snatched away 2 minutes from the final whistle.
On a wet and overcast afternoon Sandbach took the field against Hinckley, hoping for a return to form to bring some cheer to the Bradwall Road faithful who once again were out in very large numbers. Unfortunately for Sandbach, the gods (and ref) were not in their favour as Sandbach conceded one penalty after another, both in defence and attack. Hinckley full-back Josh Smith was in top form as he punished these misdemeanours with 4 excellent kicks and a total of 12 points against Sandbach. To compound the home team woes, on 5 minutes Smith came into the line and created the space for winger Blane Howe to break through and chip the ball over the head of Sandbach full back Benny Elliot. A kind bounce helped Howe collect the ball and score a fine try converted by Smith, who was clearly ‘on-fire’.
So 19 points to 0 down after 22 minutes it looked like Sandbach were in for a bad day. This however is where a bit of Sandbach ‘grit’ and ‘B4L’ spirit came into the equation. Sandbach knew that they weren’t playing well; they knew that they were struggling with the referee, they knew that Hinckley were very well organised in defence, but one could sense a determination to pull together and fix the problems.
Some dogged tackling by Tom Austin, some inspiring charges by Jack Seddon and Gaz Caen seemed to calm the nerves and gradually Sandbach stopped the rot and clawed their way back into the game.Sandbach substitutes Joel Unsworth and Josh Longson came on and with a steadier scrummage and a little more pace in the back row, confidence began to grow in the home side.
In the 34th minute, Hinckley winger was somewhat harshly, although the try line was beckoning for Jack Leech, adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and was yellow-carded. The resultant numerical advantage just helped Sandbach confidence up a further notch. Two minutes later, the Sandbach forwards got their game together and supported a break by Longson to drive him over the line and take their first points.
Half Time: Sandbach 5 v 19 Hinckley
Sandbach came out after the break in a much better frame of mind. Gone were the long speculative missed passes and one man breaks into isolation. Tight, aggressive and energetic forward play gave possession to Will Cargill who was able to orchestrate the moves and start to take control of the game. Elliot also found his kicking boots at half time and knocked over a couple of penalties to start the comeback. Sandbach’s second try came from Dan Massey after a series of forward drives moved play to within 5 metres of the Hinckley line, whereupon a quick blindside pass from debutant Phil Anjelkovic gave Massey the space to dive over in the corner.
Sandbach were now in the ascendency and, camped out in the Hinckley half they tested their defence and came close on many occasions. Eventually at 28minutes into the half and after a series of forward drives another Anjelkovic quick pass gave the ball to Cargill, whose inch perfect chip to the wing dropped neatly into the hands of Jack Leech who was able to run in opposed and score in the right corner. Elliot’s conversion was excellent and gave Sandbach a 23 – 19 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.
Cargs and Simon plot the fightback
Sandbach continued to pressure the Hinckley line until a long pass to League top try-scorer Devon Constant allowed the big winger to break into the Bach 22 metre zone. From there Hinckley forwards maintained 5 minutes of pressure and, after dragging in the cover defence, were eventually able to slip the ball to Mitch Colpith who ran around the cover defence to score by the posts. Smith picked up the extras.
Leading by 3 points, Hinkley held onto the ball to see out the remaining 2 minutes on the clock.Overall a big improvement over the previous week and without the 12 penalty points in the opening quarter we would have been celebrating a good victory.
Another Cup weekend next week, gives Sandbach time to build upon their second half revival and plan for their trip to Bournville on 8th December.