Congleton 2nds 25 - Sandbach 5
Sat 26 February 2005
On Saturday Sandbach travelled the short distance to Congleton to face their second team on Hankinson’s Field. they were soundly beaten by a more determined side who over the last few weeks have been producing some good results.
Several third team stalwarts were missing Steve Jones, whose presence was sorely missed, prop Steve Roe, robin Pipe and winger Stuart Milward who was still bruised from last week’s encounter against Holmes Chapel, but he did come along and watch. This meant that Ian Lovell kindly stepped up from the 4ths and James “Hutch” Hutchin debuted for the club. Stuart Butters on leave from the army also stepped in at centre.
Sandbach were under the cosh from the start, with the bigger more experienced Congleton pack battering, up the pitch. From the first scrum it was obvious Sandbach were in trouble as they were pushed back at a great rate of knots. Young props Gareth Jervis and Dave Pipe, although a little on the light side performed well against two wily old props, whose combined age was close to 100.
Congleton came close to scoring as with Sandbach under pressure they conceded a penalty within their own 22. Instead of kicking for goal Congleton elected to go for the scrum. The scrum was won by Congleton who marched it over the try line with scrum half Colin Stent snapping like a jack Russell at the base of Congleton’s scrum. The ball was knocked on just before the line and the referee awarded a penalty against Sandbach on their 5m line. Congleton and the spectators expected a penalty try. Congleton again elected to go for the scrum, but Dave Pipe and Andy Ennis stole the ball from them, and it was cleared by Mark Read.
The pressure was off but not for long as Congleton were again on Sandbach’s line. They drew in all of Sandbach’s defence under the sticks before throwing the ball wide for their left wing to run around is opposite man to score in the corner for an unconverted try.
The half time score flattered Sandbach as Congleton had most of the possession, but their handling and passing let them down, usually by forwards on the crash ball. Congleton playing ten-man rugby. But it was effective, Congleton’s fly half, once he had rectified his slice kicking the ball down the line. Congleton’s lineout was very effective winning their own ball and spoiling a great deal of Sandbach’s. When their forwards did take crash ball they battered their way up the park. Flankers Simon Astles and Martyn Hurlstone-Johnson putting in crunching tackles all over the park.
Congleton’s next points came when they were again awarded a penalty in Sandbach’s 22m which they elected to kick and this was successful making the score 8 – 0 to Congleton.
When Sandbach did get any rucked ball, Congleton’s backs were up quickly, making it difficult for Sandbach’s half backs to get the ball out to their backs, once they did Stuart Butters made good ground evading tackles, to move Sandbach up the park. The ball again was spun wide for winger Dan Adams to dash across the line in the corner, seconds before half time.
At half time Sandbach made one substitution, as Dave Pipe wanted to see the Wales match. This substitution steadied the scrums but did little else. Even with more possession of the ball Sandbach were unable to breach Congleton’s defence, Stuart Butters, Dan Adams and Lee Thompson all making breaks but to no avail.
In the second half Congleton varied their lineout reducing it to four men, but when they were awarded a line in Sandbach’s 22m they went for a full line, which they won and drove over the line to score.
Congleton increased their score with a further try as they sent the ball wide to the right and with good support they crossed the line in the corner scoring under the posts for a converted try.
Sandbach then made their final replacement as James Hutchin came on fro Steve Meaden, unfortunately this did not make any difference and Sandbach’s lack lustre performance against a side that wanted to win, left them down three tries to one. After the match there was time to watch Wales beat the French.
Next weekend the thirds are away to Northwich, but will be without further stalwarts Colin Stent and Andy Green
Gareth Jervis, Andy Ennis, David Pipe, Dan Faulkner, Ian Lovell, Martyn Hurlstone-Johnson, Richard Astles, Richard Pickford, Colin Stent, Mark Read, Lee Thompson, Stuart Butters, Andy Green, Dan Adams, Steve Meaden
Replacements; Andy Maddock, James Hutchin