Sandbach 10 - Heaton Moor 2nds 5
Sat 12 February 2005
On Saturday Sandbach thirds played in the Halbro Plate Quarter Final against Heaton Moor seconds. In conditions that could only be described as atrocious, with a gale blowing from one end of the pitch to the other, and if it was not raining it was hailing.
This week saw the return of Richard Astles who had been out injured since the start of the season, and Rob Leese, back after six week decorating. (Any thing you need to know about laying laminate flooring he’s you man!).
Sandbach elected to play up the hill with the wind behind them, and from the kick off Heaton Moor found out just how strong that wind was as their kick failed to cross the 10m line and the ball was brought back to the centre spot for a scrum.
The team that used the wind to their best advantage would win today’s game, but neither team made full advantage of it. Most of the first half was played in Heaton Moor’s half but Sandbach failed to turn this pressure into points. Their first chance came when they were awarded a Penalty just outside Heaton Moor’s 22m line and elected to go for gaol. Full Back Chris Watson stepped up to take the kick but in the swirling wind missed.
Sandbach’s next chance of points came when under pressure; Heaton Moor’s Fly half in an attempt to clear his line kicked the ball into touch on his own 22m line. Andy Lee, jumping at number four, secured the ball, and flanker Simon Astles took the ball on drawing the Heaton Moor defence. He then popped the ball to fly half Mark Read who attempted a drop goal and again missed.
A penalty again on Heaton Moor’s 22m line gave Sandbach another chance to break the stalemate, but again Chris Watson was unsuccessful in his attempt to kick at goal.
To move the ball out of their half Heaton Moor needed possession of the ball, from a scrum they were able to get the ball out to their backs who showed exactly what they could do as they moved the ball through hands down the pitch and were for the first time in the Sandbach half putting them under pressure. This pressure paid off as Sandbach were penalised. Having watched Sandbach’s attempts at goal, Heaton Moor kicked the ball into the left hand corner of the pitch for a line out.
Yet again on top form and helped by the blustery conditions, Steve Jones caught Heaton Moor’s ball, and Colin Stent was able to get the ball out to Mark Read, who “hoofed” the ball into the top right hand corner of the pitch for winger Dan Adams to run onto. This was fielded by the Heaton Moor full Back who attempted to run round Dan, who tackled him into touch. Sandbach took a quick line but in there hast knocked it on. At the ensuing ruck Simon Astles sustained an injury and had to be replaced by his brother Richard.
The wind continued to be a problem for Heaton Moor, as kicking their way up the pitch was not the answer. This can after a jinking run by their fly half brought them back into the Sandbach half. With Sandbach under pressure it was only a crunching tackle by Carey Prout that saved the day.
Awarded a penalty in their own 22m Chris Watson attempted to kick for touch up the right, this long searching kick failed to make touch, but it was chased up again by Dan Adams. Heaton Mooor’s full back collected the ball again attempted to run around Dan. Dan managed to make a half tackle but the ball was knocked on for a scrum.
From the scrum the ball was passed down the line through the hands of centres Rob Leese and Carey Prout, to winger Stuart Millward who was tackled. From the ruck srum half Colin Stent passed the ball to Mark Read who took the ball blind popping to Andy Lee who was in support. But Heaton Moor’s defence remained solid. And they were awarded a scrum.
Under pressure at the scrum Heaton Moor attempted to clear the ball but failed to make touch and Dan Adams in attempt to score in the corner was tackled into touch. With an infringement at the line, Sandbach elected to run the penalty, first Tim Oakes being held up then Andy Lee, as Heaton Moor tackled like dervishes.
With minutes to go it looked like there was to be no score in the first half, but after successfully winning rucked ball in Heaton Moor’s 22 fly half Mark Read took the ball on passing the ball to Tim Oakes who passed it on to winger Dan Adams. Dan cut inside and popped the ball back to Tim who crashed over the line for a try. Once again Chris Watson was unsuccessful with the kick and the half ended 5-0 to Sandbach. Who knew that they had not made the most of the conditions.
At half time Sandbach made a couple of changes, as David Pipe came on in the front row and Colt Dan Faulkner came on in the second row replacing Steve Roe and Robin Pipe.
With the wind behind them Heaton Moor came back with a vengeance putting Sandbach under pressure, who like Heaton Moor in the first half attempted to kick their way out of trouble but only managing to dig themselves in deeper as kicks were sliced or failed to make touch.
Once Sandbach had the ball it was obvious they needed to keep within the forwards and Rickard Pickford and Steve Jones took the ball back up the pitch in a series of rucks.
Heaton Moor counter attacked but poor handing in the conditions put paid to two scoring chances as the span the ball wide out to the left, first a throw forward and in the same location knock on. The Heaton Moor hooker actually crossed the line after taking a quick lineout but the referee brought the play back for not straight.
Next came the highlight of the match (well for the Sandbach crowd, anyway!) Heaton Moor had Sandbach on their back legs again as their backs attacked in Sandbach’s 22m, Mark Read took an interception between the 22m and the 5m line and with his legs going ten to the dozen he outpaced the opposition only to be tackled on Heaton Moor’s 5m line. With Andy Lee and Richard Astles in support the ball was quickly recycled and passed to Dan Adams who scored in the bottom right hand corner to make the score 10-0 to Sandbach, as again Chris Watson could not overcome the wind to convert the try.
Sandbach made their final substitution replacing Colin Stent for another Colt named Dan Adams. Buoyed by this try Sandbach put Heaton Moor under pressure as with ball in hand Carey Prout crashed through the Heaton Moor defence. Like Heaton Moor poor handling at the last prevented Sandbach making good use of this pressure.
Heaton Moor rallied and moved the ball back up the pitch and after a well-worked back move they scored in the top right hand corner for an unconverted try.
As Sandbach tired Heaton Moor sensed that with another try to draw the match they would be winners as the away team and put everything into getting that elusive try, but with Rob Leese, Richard Astles et al tackling like demons, combined with a slippery ball they could not get it.
As the game was so tight in the closing 20minutes, captain Richard Pickford was unable to bring on his final replacement Martyn Hurlstone-Johnson who had been doing a great job of running the touch. Usually it is the third team’s aim, especially in league matches, to ensure that all of their replacements get a game. Unfortunately realising that Sandbach had a chance of progressing further in the plate competition. Richard Pickford had this hard decision to make.
This win that the third team progresses through to the semi-finals of the plate, which will take place on March 19th. Next week Sandbach thirds return to league rugby as they take on Holmes chapel 2nds at Bradwall road, Weather permitting!
This game was the only game played at Sandbach over the weekend, as the Linley against Sandbach 5ths was cancelled and with the rain and hail over night on Sunday all of the Mini/junior matches were cancelled.
Steve Roe, Tim Oakes, Chris Dyer, Steve Jones, Robin Pipe, Andy Lee, Simon Astles, Richard Pickford (Captain), Colin Stent, Mark Read, Dan Adams (W), Rob Leese, Carey Prout, Stuart Millward, Chris Watson,
Replacements, Dan Faulkner, Dan Adams (SH), David Pipe, Richard Astles, Martyn Hurlstone-Johnson (not used)