Scrum on a Hill
This was never going to be an easy fixture for the Cheshire side. The semi-professional Ampthill team lead by 32-cap Tongan International Vili Ma’asi is littered with top class players and coached by the hugely experienced Welsh international Paul Turner. Despite this apparent gulf in experience and ability, Sandbach did not take a single backward step; they fought every inch of the way and scored the last try of the game as if to emphasise their spirited performance.
Ampthill started the game with a crash and a bang as their strong, raw-edged pack, threw everything at the visitors. The normally solid Sandbach scrum was pushed and twisted around the park, the ‘Bach rolling maul off the line-out never got out of first gear and the A’s rush-defence denied the visitor’s backs any opportunities to make headway. On 10 minutes Sandbach were forced to concede a penalty at a 5-metre scrum, only for the A’s to elect for another scrum and force Sandbach to infringe again, this time resulting in a penalty try, easily converted.
Man of the Match Gary Caen
Ampthill continued to pressure Sandbach across the park and on the 14th minute a miss-hit clearance kick failed to find touch and was collected by the A’s winger, who together with his full back and centre, exploited the mismatch of being faced with a set of forwards and raced away to score a very good try. Another conversion gave Ampthill a 14-0 lead inside 15 minutes.
Credit though to Sandbach as they began to fight back. Some great runs by Simon Verbickas and Matt Beesley, began to put pressure on the Ampthill defence, whilst Josh Longson, to quote A’s coach Paul Turner, became a “Real Pain” with his tackling and general defensive work. This work gained 15 minutes respite and a penalty goal from Benny Elliot before pressure told and the home team scored another try out wide. Ampthill finished the half with a penalty goal lead 22-3 at the break.
Pardon Sir?? ... No Whoops Hold on! My shorts are falling down
Bach started the 2nd half in a positive manner and began to put pressure on the Ampthill line after 5 minutes were awarded a penalty on the 5 metre line. A clever cross field kick was caught by Jack Leech, who slipped the ball inside to Verbickas who scored a fine try; unfortunately unconverted.
Sandbach then spent the next 35 minutes defending as this excellent Ampthill team came back in waves and scored three tries in the process. Finally, and with the game nearly finished, Sandbach showed their character as they fought their way towards the Ampthill try line and fed the ball to Gareth Caen who capped off his Man of the Match performance by crashing over to score and take his reward for a great individual performance. Caen celebrated the try in his usual manner by a delivering a faultless falsetto rendition of the Theme from The Snowman in the clubhouse after the game.
The 1st Team have a break at the weekend but Sandbach 2XV take on Waterloo 2XV in the semi-finals of the Raging Bull League Cup. Kick-off 3.00pm at Bradwall Road.