Bowdon 20 - Sandbach 20
Sat 29 January 2005
Sandbach third team, managed to just get a draw in a game that they should have lost. On Saturday Sandbach travelled to Bowden, to play on a very heavy pitch. As usual the thirds under went more team changes, as Mick Butters returned to prop after a rib injury earlier in the season, Steve Meadon debuted in the centre after a lay off from rugby for several years, and Colt Dan Faulkner started the match.
From the kick off Sandbach were on top, from the kick off they were camped in Bowden’s half, with forwards Steve Jones and Dan Faulkner going on Bullocking runs, with the forwards in support to allow scrum half Colin Stent to get the ball out to the backs, unfortunately mistakes meant that the move usually resulted in a scrum. To begin with Sandbach dominated the scrums With Hooker Andy Ennis taking his own ball and those of Bowden’s. But try as they might Sandbach could not penetrate Bowden’s defence.
Possession of the ball is fundamental, and when Bowden did get the ball they showed what they were capable of, and their backs kept the ball alive and this with poor or none existent first up tackles resulted in Bowden’s first try on their left wing.
Conditions underfoot, and the fact that Sandbach were being drawn into a forwards battle, contrary to the team’s game plan, began to tell and the began to struggle to get to the break downs. This meant that when Colin Stent, Steve Jones or Fly half Mark read took on crash ball, they became isolated and Bowden were able to turn over the ball and get their backs moving forward. Attacking down the left with only full back Andy Green to beat, Bowden’s centre was able to hold off the tackle before crossing the line to score.
Sandbach were dominating the set pieces with Steve Jones stealing Bowden’s lineout ball, but they could not keep the ball alive, as Bowden’s defence was up fast on the backs, both centres Lee Thompson and Steve Meadon kept bringing the ball back into the forwards, but this did not work.
When the ball was eventually passed out to “Fast “ Dan Adams on the wing Sandbach were able to move their way up the right wing with both Stuart Millward and Steve Meadon in support they were stopped short of the line. Captain Richard Pickford took the ball on as did prop Andy Maddock, from the resulting ruck Colin Stent was able to pop the ball to Mark Read who shrugged off two tackles to bounce over the line.
Bowden rallied and piled on the pressure and were camped on Sandbach’s line, before they were deemed to be held up over the line, from the resulting scrum they recycled the ball quickly and crossed the line to score.
Sandbach with their heads down were not helped by comments from three of their players, who instead of trying to raise their spirits criticised everyone who in the conditions were pulling their tripes out.
At half time Sandbach made one change as prop David Pipe came on to replace Mick Butter, joining his father Robin Pipe in the pack.
The half continued as the last had finished off with neither side taking the advantage, after ten minutes Andy Pipe (Robin’s second son) replaced Lee Thompson in the centre, with the hope that fresh legs would boost Sandbach’s fortunes. However Sandbach’s saving grace came as the heavy conditions began to tell on both sides as players started to go down injured, both Richard Pickford and Jason Keeble struggling with shoulder injuries. Luckily they were able to play on unfortunately the injuries sustained by the Bowden’s players meant that they were down to 13 men. As rule 14 only applies to numbers at the start of the match, and with no replacements they had to play on with a reduced number.
With fewer of the Bowden pack to spoil the ball, the flagging Sandbach pack were able to provide the platform that the backs had been wanting all match, and the ball was quickly shipped to the wings, and within as many minutes Dan Adams had crossed the line in the left corner.
Even with 13 men Bowden were by no means beaten and from a penalty at a line when their number two jumper was pulled down they moved the ball forward, they were stopped but at the resulting ruck Prop Andy Maddock was judged to be offside, and a penalty was awarded against him. Taking a quick penalty Bowden crashed over the line to take the lead again.
But with 13 men it is difficult to cover the park and Sandbach made their way back up the park, sucking Bowden into a ruck on the right hand side of the pitch, the ball was shipped through hands for centre Andy Pipe to level the score.
Thus Sandbach after a poor display of rugby, managed to draw against a side that but for the lack of replacements looked like they were going to win the match.
Sandbach will have to up their game next week as they travel the short distance to Knutsford to take on a team who are riding high in the league. Captain Richard Pickford urged all his players to turn up for training on Tuesday.
Sandbach were: -
Mick Butters, (David Pipe) Andy Ennis, Andy Maddock, Robin Pipe, Dan Faulkner, Jason Keeble, Richard Pickford, Colin Stent, Mark Read, Stuart Millward, Lee Thompson, (Andy Pipe) Steve Meadon, Dan Adams, Andy Green.