Sandbach 36 - Wirral 22
Sat 13 November 2004
For once Sandbach almost fielded a third team that had been selected on the previous Tuesday night, for this hard fought battle against a side above them in the league. Wirral made the long journey from Clatterbridge, with a bear 15 players, which is more than Southport 2nds did as they were unable to sent a side down to play against Sandbach 2nds.
With Steve Sutton arriving late, flanker Jason Keeble, who admitted to playing in that position before, played at Scrum half, and with fly half Mark Read back from his injury against Buxton, Albert Chan could move back to outside centre.
From the kick off the Sandbach pack were in amongst it, putting pressure on Wirral. This pressure very quickly turning to points as Sandbach were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, which Mark Read kicked easily.
Not put off by this early score Wirral Came back at Sandbach and through a series of Sandbach errors moved their way back up the pitch. Drawing the Sandbach pack to the right of the pitch Wirral quickly recycled the ball and with only a prop and winger to beat Wirral made most of their overlap and their pacy winger scored in the left hand corner.
From the kick off Sandbach took the ball into Wirral’s half but were caught knapping at a penalty and again the Wirral backs got through the Sandbach defence. With some good handling and support play they again scored in the corner.
Sandbach counter attacked, the ball quickly being moved from the base of the scrum by scrum half Jason Keeble, and deft hands in the centres meant that Andy Green was able to dash down the right wing to score.
Wirral replied almost immediately as again their backs showed that they were dangerous with the ball in hand and a lovely passage of play resulted in them crossing the try line to score.
Sandbach were holding their own in the scrum, and the forwards were taking the ball into rucks well, with the likes of Richard Pickford and Steve Jones powering through. Sandbach’s next “try” came from this pressure, the ball being taken on in a series of rucks just outside Wirral’s 5m line. Richard Pickford took the ball on went down to start a classic ruck, when the Referee blew his whistle to award a try. On realising that the line Richard crossed was the 5m line, the referee let out an exclamation, not usually associated with referees and the game was restarted with a scrum.
Simon price was the next to score as he crashed over the line, after Sandbach had won Scrummage ball just outside Wirral’s 5m line. The half ended with Wirral just in front 17-15.
At half time Sandbach made several changes as Mick Butters came on at Prop, and Scott Anderson in the second row, in addition newly arrived Steve Sutton took over from Jason Keeble, who had played admirably at Scrum half.
Within minutes of the restart Wirral again showed what their backs could do and that they had two fast wingers as from a high ball, their right wing sped down the pitch to score. Being 22-15 down Sandbach rallied as both teams put their all into scoring the next points. For the next 20 minutes neither side could penetrate the others defence.
Centres Frank Boughey and Albert Chan excelled and took crash ball after crash ball, but were bottled up every time, and for the third week running Dan Adams saw nothing of the ball. On two occasions a Sandbach player looked as if he had managed to get through only to knock the ball on or drop it. Lee Thompson, came on to replace Simon Cawood, as Andy Green moved to full back. Unfortunately shortly afterwards Sandbach had to use their last replacement as Andy Pipe had to replace Mick Butters who suffered a popped rib. Senior Colts Andy Pipe joined fellow colt Gareth Jervis in the front row.
With the fresh legs on the pitch the toll began to tell on the Wirral pack as they began to lag behind play. Sandbach then started to make the breaks started either by Mark Read or Steve Sutton; with players like Lee Thompson in support they began to put Wirral under pressure.
The Sandbach pack began a short series of Runs up the pitch led by Steve Jones and Andy Ennis, from a ruck in Wirral’s 22m scrum half Steve Sutton was able to feed Frank Boughey who crashed over the line. Steve converted the try to tie the score.
The floodgates began to open, as Mark Read was the next to score for Sandbach as he broke through several tackle to score. The try was converted by Steve Sutton.
Again from a move started by Steve Sutton the ball was moved up the left hand touchline, with even Albert Chan mauling the ball forward until the cavalry arrive. With runners outside him Steve Sutton was able to pop the ball to Colt Andy Pipe who crashed over the line to score. Steve Sutton converted this last try to make the final score 36-22.
On the whole an enjoyable game of rugby, which was not marred by uncontested scrums, which both sides has found to be currently the norm in this league. Next weekend Sandbach thirds travel the short distance to Crewe & Nantwich, where as the second team are at home to Sedgley Park 3rds.
Gareth Jervis, Andy Ennis, Andy Maddock, Steve Marchant, Steve Jones, Simon Price, Simon Astles, Richard Pickford (Capt.) Jason Keeble, Mark Read, Andy Green, Frank Boughey, Albert Chan, Dan Adams, Simon Cawood.
Replacements: Mick Butters, Andy Pipe, Lee Thompson, Scott Anderson, Steve Sutton