Wirral 48 - Sandbach 24
Sat 8 January 2005
Sandbach thirds took what was probably their furthest journey of the season as they travelled to play Wirral 3rds at Clatterbridge. This was a critical match for both sides as both had equal points. When Sandbach played against Wirral earlier in the season a second revival meant that Sandbach came away with a 36-22 win.
It was not to be the same this week, as it was a proverbially a game of two halves with the wind being the deciding force.
Sandbach kicked off with the wind and the slope, and it was soon evident that they Christmas lay off did nothing to help Sandbach’s fitness, Prop Andy Maddock blowing after the first five minutes of play. But the lay off did mean that those players like Chris Watson were able to get over their injuries.
Sandbach did not make as much use of the wind and their forwards took the ball on, Andy Ennis, Andy Pipe, and Steve Jones took the ball forward with gusto. Unfortunately the Sandbach pack were slow around the pitch and on several occasion the ball although taken into the ruck by Sandbach came out on the Wirral side. This was not helped by some erratic passing.
When Sandbach scrum half Colin Stent was able to get good ball out to the backs, the ball was quickly passed in inside centre Mike Huss, on holiday from Leeds University, who went on a jinxing run and unfortunately dropped the ball over the line in the right corner.
Sandbach won the resulting scrum against the head and pushed the ball to Wirral’s line for number 8 Steve Jones to score a push over try. Unfortunately Chris Watson missed the conversion.
Wirral were straight back in the game and put Sandbach under pressure, and missed tackles in the middle of the park meant that they were able to score under posts fro a converted try.
Not to be put off Sandbach retaliated, after a jinxing run by full back Andy Green made ground for Sandbach. The ball was quickly shipped through the backs, and with a few of the Sandbach pack in support Colin Stent was able to supply the ball to fly half Mark Read, who popped the ball to Andy Pipe who crashed over the line under the posts. Chris Watson converted this try.
Wirral proved that they were still in the game as their number 8 ran three quarters of the pitch to score in the corner.
Desperate to get more points Sandbach made the most of their possession with both backs and forwards taking the ball on, Jason Keeble was brought down just before the Wirral line, with Lee Thomson in close support. The ball was popped to Stuart Millward who powered over the line to score what was probably his best try of the season. This was again converted by Chris Watson.
Moments before half time, missed tackles in the middle of the park again proved to be Sandbach’s downfall as Wirral’s back showed their mettle and scored leaving Sandbach just in the lead.
At half time Sandbach made wholesale changes, as Steve Roe came on into a front row that prior to that had been three Andys. Rick Pickford came on which meant that Steve Jones joined Robin Pipe in the second row. Paul Kennedy and Martin Beecher coming into the backs to replace Mark Read and Lee Thompson.
Sandbach kicked off into the wind and struggled, players were in front of the ball at the kick off, from the resulting scrum Wirral showed just what their backs could do with the ball in hand and even tenacious tackling by winger Dan Adams could not prevent the try.
From the next kick off the ball soared straight into touch and again from the Scrum Sandbach were unable to prevent another try. The next kick off saw the ball being fielded by Wirral’s fly half who showed that he was probably the best player on the park and Wirral had scored three tries in a few short minutes making the score 29 –14.
After this poor start Sandbach rallied and got what they needed, possession of the ball, the Sandbach forwards were again able to take the ball on, with Rick Pickford making yards, Paul Kennedy went on one of his dazzling runs, before off loading the ball to Dan Adams. Sandbach’s next break came as Martin Beecher waltzed through the Wirral defence only to crash into the post. From the ensuing ruck the ball was popped to Rick Pickford who crashed over the line to score. Martin Beecher after colliding with the upright then managed to toe poke the ball to hit the cross bar.
From this point Wirral started to put Sandbach under pressure and gradually pulled away from them scoring a further three tries with some well-worked back moves to finish the game 48-24. In the end the better team won, being fitter, younger and more determined.
Next week Sandbach thirds take on Northwich 3rds at Bradwall road in the Halbro Plate,
Andy Maddock, Andy Ennis, Andy Pipe, Chris Watson, Robin Pipe, Steve Marchant, Jason Keeble, Steve Jones, Colin Stent, Mark Read, Dan Adams, Mike Huss, Lee Thompson, Stuart Millward, Andy Green
Replacements: Steve Roe, Martin Beecher, Paul Kennedy, Richard Pickford