Bolton 15 - Sandbach 3
Sat 4 September 2004
On paper at selection Sandbach had enough players to put four sides out, however by Saturday they were down to only 3, with a combined 3rds/4ths side heading up the M61, which for many was their first visit to Bolton.
After a shaky warm up which also included team selection by Captain for the day Colin Stent. The game got of to a fast a furious start. Bolton Bringing the game to Sandbach, but were unable to cross the gain line due in part to some tenacious tackling by Centres Martin Beecher and Lee Thompson. Unfortunately for Bolton, in their eagerness to get the ball recycled the referee deemed them to be offside, and the boot of fly half Phil Clifton put Sandbach into the Bolton half.
In the resulting lineouts, stand in second row Colt Chris Gracie showed his metal and secured good ball, allowing the backs to take the ball on, Martin Beecher making the first break before being stopped in Bolton’s 22m area.
As the half continued on the pack began to gel they began to take to ball on with sniping runs from hooker Andy Ennis and second row Ian Lovell. Back row players Gavin Smith, Paul Jackson and frank Boughey in close support meant that the ball was quickly recycled to the Sandbach backs. The Tackling by Bolton closed Sandbach down each time and meant that there was little between the two sides. Sandbach’s only points of the first half coming from a penalty taken by Phil Clifton.
As Sandbach’s fitness began to tell Bolton were camped in Sandbach’s half and were unlucky not to come away without a try, as they were deemed to held up over the line.
At half time Sandbach changed tight head props as Russ Adams came on to join Mark Avis, alternately Bolton made several changes to their side and came back at Sandbach with renewed vigour, pinning them in their own half. This time Bolton did come away with a try as from a line out the pack drove forward heading for the right hand corner of the park, rolling to the left they sucked in Sandbach’s winger leaving a gap which they subsequently took advantage of. The conversion was missed.
Shortly afterwards Sandbach were forced to make another replacement as Colt Chris Gracie had to leave the pitch with a pulled hamstring which meant that Prop Joe Patinson had to go onto the Sandbach flank. Within minutes Bolton increased their lead as they were awarded a penalty just in front of the posts. When full back Mark Bedford was penalised for coming over the top.
For the next ten to twenty minutes the game became very scrappy as both side became frustrated and several fists were thrown, and the silliness was finally ended as the referee produced a yellow card. During this period Sandbach had their next chance of putting points on the scoreboard, but Phil Clifton was not able to convert the penalty.
Again Bolton came back strongly and were almost through to score but for a try saving tackle by Mark Bedford.
Back up to full strength, Sandbach had another surge, and played some good rugby, the ball being recycled quickly by the forwards, and centre Lee Thompson putting in some good breaks, but as martin Beecher in the first half Bolton’s backs tackled like demons.
Mike Hood came very close to scoring but was bundled into touch 10 yards from Bolton’s line. Bolton were straight back on the offensive and kicked down the line for touch, winger Mike Hood fielded this, with a Bolton player closing fast. Mike took a hard knock and the ball was picked up by Bolton who ran through to score, leaving Mike writhing on the floor. The conversion was missed and the referee blew for full time.
In all a well-fought match against a opposition that Sandbach rarely come up against. Next week the third team have their first league match away against Wilmslow and the fourths play against New Brighton.
Mark Avis, Andy Ennis, Andy Maddock, Chris Gracie, Ian Lovell, Gavin Smith, Frank Boughey, Paul Jackson, Colin Stent,
Phil Clifton, Mike Hood, Martin Beecher, Lee Thompson, Stuart Milward, Mark Bedford,
Joe Patinson, Russ Adams, Chris Howell