Sandbach 19 - Northwich 17
Sat 4 December 2004
This was a proverbial game of two halves, with Sandbach winning the first and Northwich the second half. Christmas Shopping hit hard this week, the fourth team match against Linley was called off late on Friday night, but most of the players managed a game with the thirds. Props Russ Adams and Mark Avis, Rick Jones and Carey Prout all stepping up for this local derby.
As the final score reflects the teams were evenly matched. For the first twenty minutes the game was nip and tuck, with each side trying to cross the gain line. Sandbach’s line out again was in disarray and Northwich’s fly half kicked Northwich out of trouble. At each line Northwich took most of the ball and proceeded to maul the ball up the pitch. Then releasing the ball to their backs. Tenacious tackling by Simon Astles and Jason Keeble, on the flank for a change, meant that they were unable to go forward.
Sandbach were first on the scorecard when Richard Pickford crossed the line for a try.
Sandbach broke through Northwich's defence as Mark Read popped the ball to Chris Watson who took the ball on slipping it to Andy Ennis who was in support. Andy went to ground, and Colin Stent passed the ball to Paul Kennedy who went over the line. Unfortunately Colin’s pass was forward.
Northwich were awarded a scrum on their own 5m line. Sandbach won the ball against the head and going for a push over try the scrum wheeled and before it went through 90 degrees number 8 Richard Pickford picked up the ball and crashed over the line. The try was converted by second row Chris Watson, in his first game back for many weeks.
Sandbach kept up the pressure and managed to increase their lead when the ball was quickly passed through the centre partnership of Carey Prout and Paul Kennedy, to winger Stuart Milward who crossed the line in the corner.
Northwich rallied and forced Sandbach in their own half but gave away a penalty; in attempt to try and clear their line Chris Watson kicked the ball for touch. In true golfers style Chris sliced it and it ended up the arms of Northwich’s backs. The ball was quickly sent out o the wing and as Sandbach stood and watched Northwich scored in the corner.
From the restart Sandbach rallied and after a series of rucks when Sandbach’s forwards Simon Astles and Andy Ennis took the ball short, Scrum half Colin Stent was able to pop the ball to Richard Pickford who crashed over the line to score, in the closing minutes of the first half. Chris Watson again converted the try.
At half time Sandbach made two alterations, Mark Avis replaced Russ Adams; Mark has been out for a while with a broken rib, and Mike Hood for Richard Jones on the wing.
From the restart Northwich came back with a vengeance, and very quickly had crossed Sandbach’s line for a try. Realising that Sandbach were struggling in the lineouts, Northwich’s fly half continued to kick down field for touch. At each line out Northwich successfully mauled they way up the field.
As the game went on and Sandbach’s back were slower around the park and Sandbach gave away penalty after penalty. As frustration set in Northwich had a player sin-binned, but even with 14 men Northwich kept up the pressure, and scored when they were awarded a penalty on Sandbach’s 5m line. Northwich’s flanker took the ball and crashed through Andy Ennis as if he wasn’t there.
Northwich will be kicking themselves as a penalty kick, which should have won them the game, hit the upright. With Minutes to go Sandbach were forced to make a repacement as Chris Watson broke his nose in a clash of heads, which meant a drastic reshuffle, Lee Hindson coming on to the wing, and centre Carey Prout moving to flanker
Sandbach came off the pitch as if they had lost but they had been well and truly beaten in the second half, but a win is a win, and Sandbach 3rds have not done that for a couple of weeks.
Next Saturday they will be up against it as they are away to league leaders Marple.
Andy Maddock, Andy Ennis, Russ Adams, Chris Watson, Paul Standring, Simon Astles, Jason Keeble, Richard Pickford (Capt.) Colin Stent, Mark Read, Rick Jones, Carey Prout, Paul Kennedy, Stuart Milward, Andy Green
Replacements: Mike Hood, Mark Avis, Lee Hindson