Sunday Morning Glory for the Under 12s
After several weeks of intensive training, the under 12s' first game of the season was at home to West Park. The early morning fog had been replaced by glorious sunshine and it was near perfect conditions for rugby. Coach Andy John was keen to find out if all the hard work had paid off and rallied the boys with his pre match team talk. Referee Paul Cooke wouldn't have looked out of place on the catwalks of New York and Paris as he donned his new bright yellow official refereeing jersey, fetching shorts and 60 denier black sheen socks. West Park were, unfortunately, a few players short so Sandbach had given them some players to ensure they had sufficient numbers.
Sandbach took the game to West Park from the off, applying the early pressure, Jimmy Bebbington taking the ball in on the crash and gaining several yards. The Sandbach pack were causing the visitors problems, while the backs were looking to get the ball wide early. It was not long before the pressure told and Matthew Hopton seized his opportunity and pounced over for the first try of the match, Kyran Davies added the extras.
More pressure followed with powerhouse Alex Bishop making good yards and allowing the backs to get the ball wide to Daniel Jakeman who cut through the opposition to cross the line, unfortunately disallowed due to an handoff. Sandbach were enjoying most of the possession, although West Park were putting up a spirited defensive effort and keeping the home side on their toes.
Sandbach were again on the attack and looking to score, but a knock-on meant the visitors had a chance to clear their lines, it was the home side however that won the resulting scrum after a huge push from the pack, the ball work worked wide down the line by Rai Bennett, but the West Park defence held strong, Sandbach were able to recycle and this time there was no stopping Luke Graveson as he broke through to extend the lead.
West Park were not going to sit back and they attacked from the restart, however the home side's defence held firm and Sandbach broke up field, Jimmy Bebbington again charging through and ensuring Sandbach had the platform to work the ball wide once more, this time Kyran Davies was on hand and crossed in the corner to complete a fine team try, again converted.
West Park put the ball high and long from the kick-off, however Daniel Jakeman was underneath it, he caught the ball and set off up field, after beating several defenders he put the burners on and out-sprinted the whole of the opposition in a run that would have made Usain Bolt jealous, he dived in for fantastic individual try, the conversion gave the home side a 28-0 lead at half time.
It was more of the same in the second half, More strong running from Greg Wilkes ensuring the game was being played in the opposition half, West Park were again giving it everything in defence, but the pressure told and Matt Hopton was on hand to score his second try, Rai Bennett successful with the conversion.
Park came back again from the kick off, more good tackling from the home side, messrs. Bishop and Curwen stopping the attack and Sandbach again went on the prowl, this time it was Rai Bennett who took the ball over for another try, converted by Rhys John. Sandbach had clearly been listening at training and it was clear everyone knew their job, the improved organisation and positional play was clear to see.
With the clock ticking down, West Park were trying their upmost to get on the score sheet, although the Sandbach tackling remained effective and allowed more possession, Jimmy Bebbington again breaking through the tackles as the home side moved towards the try line, the forwards again worked the ball well from the ruck and Alex Bishop smashed through to give Sandbach their final score of the match. It has to be said also that the Sandbach players who stepped in and played for the opposition all had exceptional games.
Final Score: Sandbach 1st xiii 47 - 0 West Park
It was all change for the second game and this time it was the home side who were caught cold from the kick off and Park ran through a number of tackles and scored giving them the early lead. Sandbach however fought back and after winning a ruck in the opposition half they were able to cross the line. However, the referee adjudged the ball to be held up over the line, by none other than Rhys John! (playing for the opposition). From the resulting scrum, however, Sandbach were able to work the ball wide and level the score with a converted try by Kyran Davies.
It was end to end stuff as this time West Park came back down field, strong forward play for Park, again in the form of Sandbach player Guy Cooke (playing for them) lead to another try and the visitors were in the lead again. The game continued to be open and from the kick off panic set in the opposition as they first knocked and then almost gave the ball to Sandbach over the try line, from the resulting scrum Sandbach tried again to get the ball out wide, good running from Tom Maydew and Tom Hilditch forced the home side backwards. Just as seemed Sandbach were going to level again however, an unfortunate knock on meant the visitors were able to clear their lines and get the ball away in to the Sandbach half, they continued to push forward recycling the ball well at the ruck and allowing Max Clayton-Barker to cross for the opposition.
Sandbach again came back at the opposition, the forwards support play was good and they were able to work the ball up field, thanks to some strong running from Matthew Murray. The forwards were clearing out well at the rucks and keeping the momentum going forward, but the visitors were able to keep the home side out and the whistle blew for half time. Sandbach 7 West Park 21
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, much of the play was in the midfield and defences were on top, Sandbach's tackling remained strong Jack Irving leading by example, stopping the visitors in their tracks. As the half progressed the home side began to get on top, a fine break from Rai Bennett saw him pirouette towards the line only to be stopped a metre short, fortunately Alex Bishop was on hand and he drove over to reduce the deficit. Chris Reel added the two points.
With the clock ticking down, both teams were giving it everything and Sandbach were determined to level the game, the forwards were again taking the ball on James Michell making good yards, the home side were able to recycle the ball well from the ruck and Alex Bishop made no mistake as he powered over to bring the home side within 2 points and with the conversion to come. Fortunately Rai Bennett held his nerve and levelled the score leaving it all square all at full time. Yet again in game 2 two there were prominent performances from Guy Cooke and, in particular, Max Clayton-Barker who was a constant thorn in the sides of his usual team mates with some fantastic tackling and impressive work in the mauls and rucks; both lads playing for the opposition.
Final Score Sandbach 2nd xiii 21 - 21 West Park
Coach Andy John was delighted with the morning's rugby and by the performance of his teams, saying “the lads played good rugby, with good spirit and good commitment, it was a really good morning's rugby, well done.”
Players of the week
By our guest reporter, Andy Partington
Sandbach 1st xiii 47 - 0 West Park
Matt Hopton (2)
Kyran Davies (4)
Sandbach 2nd xiii 21 - 21 West Park
Alex Bishop (2)
Max Clayton-Barker (FOR WEST PARK!!!!)