Sandbach took their penultimate road trip of the season down the A5 for their first ever visit to Hinckley’s Leicester Road ground. Pleasant journey, fantastic weather and a very good pitch and two well matched teams delivered a great game of rugby. Unfortunately, however, it took Sandbach 40 minutes to come alive and make an impact on the game. Undoubtedly Sandbach missed the contributions of three regular 1st Team absentees, especially their kicking abilities, but after struggling throughout the 1st Half the team pulled together and delivered a feisty 2nd half performance.
It didn’t take the experienced home team long to spot the lack of a long kicker in the Sandbach defence and they were soon bombarding the visitors with long kicks and waiting eagerly to lap up the poor clearances and mount another attack. Unable to clear their lines Sandbach eventually succumbed to the pressure and conceded two penalties in quick succession, both given for offside, followed immediately by a converted try. From a difficult start Sandbach were suddenly 13 – 0 down inside the first quarter. Sandbach rallied somewhat for the next 15 minutes but again succumbed to pressure after centre Marcus Broad took a yellow card for a high tackle. Hinckley converted that penalty and went into the break ahead by 16 points.
The yellow card forced Sandbach to make some changes in the back line as George Oakey came off the bench to play fly-half and youngster Jonny Lea moved out to 13. This enforced change worked very well as Oakey’s lively side-steps forced the Hinckley back row defence to stay closer to the pack, which in turn opened more space outside for Lea and wingers Jack Leech and Richard Murray.
Despite the changes though, the second half opened as the first had finished with Hinckley being awarded another penalty for offside, duly converted by Hinckley full-back Josh Smith who finished the game with a personal haul of 21 points.
Still playing with 14 men (after an inexplicable 15 minutes in the sin-bin for Broad) Sandbach conceded a second try after a number of well executed phases eventually found the hole left by the missing player. Smith converted. Eventually after 28 minutes and all their substitutions made Sandbach began to play some rugby with some success. Following some great charging runs from Matt Beesley and Tom Austin, Sandbach drove up the pitch towards the Hinckley line where, following a ruck, the ball was slipped to Will Stockdale who scored with his usual aplomb.
Despite being so far behind, Sandbach still played their adventurous rugby, passing the ball wide and breaking around the fringes. One such move saw Jack Leech collect the ball in his own half and sprint down the touchline only to be tackled 10 metres from scoring. Quick support from Josh Longson and Jack Seddon however re-cycled the ball to player/coach Simon Verbickas who had an easy run-in to score the visitor’s final try. Hinckley struggled for a nervous few minutes, losing two players to the sin-bin, before a quick turnover delivered the ball to their full-back Smith who finished a “fine day at the office’ with a 50 metre break for the final score of the day.
Match Photos click below:
This Saturday sees three great games at Bradwall Road as the 1st XV play their last home game of the season against Bournville, the 2nd XV seek to maintain their top of the table position with a tough game against Macclesfield and the 4th XV face Congleton in a tense local derby.