This was the final match of the season and with both sides putting out heavy weight forwards it was going to be a tough battle. Sandbach, although smaller and obviously younger (only 4 players over 21 years of age) dominated the set piece with powerful scrumageing coming from the front row of Gareth Cain and Steve Hassel, and dominance in the air at the lineout from Mike Egglestone and George Elphick (ably supported by their “lifters” and pin point throwing from Tim Oakes). In the first few minutes a powerful drive from Simon Street and some good footwork from Gareth Cain allowed Sandbach to invade the Burnley half and produced a penalty to get on the score board. Within minutes, a miss pass from Chris Greenhalgh and a slight of hand from Martin Beecher and Nick Jerman was over for a converted try. Immense tackling from Tim Oakes and Mike Egglestone kept Burnley on the back foot and some wonderful ground work from Andy Lees meant that Sandbach had plenty of ball to play with. A majestically taken lineout and a great 8 man push allowed Tim Oakes to crash over for a well worked forwards try. This meant that Sandbach had attacked through Burnley’s strength and had scored a match winning psychological blow against their heavier and now meandering forwards. Ian Howlett was all over the park with a true Captains performance and with drive after drive from Andy Lees and Simon Street the Burnley defence was shattered. A dashing run from Andy Rollings and great support from Mike Egglestone lead to a wonderful, but disallowed try from George Elphick. What more can a second row do!! Dan Butler gave great service to Chris Greenhalgh and this allowed the backs to wreak havoc out in open play. Ryan Phelps and Craig Hewitt were desperately unlucky not to score a hatful of tries but Burnley always managed to get the last tackle in and deny the wingers their shot at glory. With strong forward running and a few passes backwards the result, however, was never in doubt. With Sandbach leading 17 nil at half time Burnley’s front row were eventually broken in half and the game went to uncontested scrumaging. This caused Sandbach to fall asleep for 5 minutes and without some awesome tackling from Nick Jerman and his fellow backs then Burnley would have got on the score sheet. The arrival of Andy Ennis playing against his old club almost resulted in a try but a forward pass was judged by the referee as inappropriate! Russ Diamonds’ arrival, however, did result in a wonderful 4 phase, criss cross movement which ended in Dan Butler jinxing his way over and scoring a glorious try. Nick Jerman with his second try and Martin Beecher crashing through the defence meant that Burnley were always on the back foot. With bull like strength Andy Lees continued to rampage through the Burnley forwards and the succession of big hits from all the forwards allowed Sandbach to keep their first clean sheet of the season. This was a truly wonderful and enjoyable game of rugby. The score does not tell the true story as there was a lot of hard work needed throughout the 80 minutes. There could be 5 or 6 men nominated for the coveted Man of the Match award. Andy Rollings and Martin Beecher for their all round performance or Nick Jerman for his 2 tries. Dan Butler and Chris Greenhalgh for running the game with consummate ease or any of the forwards for their shear physical effort. However, after a couple of woeful knock on’s, Andy Lees’ performance improved by the minute. He stole lineout ball from under their noses and tackled like a man possessed. Ably supported by his colleagues, his was a true blindside forwards performance. Well done Andy. Well that’s it, another season finished, only 7 losses and many great days. Rossendale Drift, Sedgley Park in the freezing wind, Waterloo away, this has been a great season and the 70 odd players who have represented the Second team can now rest and look forward to a couple of beers, an Ashes victory and a Lions whitewash of the All Blacks. Have a good summer everyone and its pre-season training 20 July so don’t get to fat! Gareth Cain (Andy Ennis 50 mins) Tim Oakes Steve Hassall George Elphick Ian Howlett (Capt.) Andy Lees Mike Egglestone Simon Street Dan Butler Chris Greenhalgh Ryan Phelps (Russ Diamond 55 mins) Martin Beecher Andy Rollings Craig Hewitt Nick Jerman Tries: Nick Jerman 2, Tim Oakes, Dan Butler, Penalty: Andy Rollings Cons: Andy Rollings 4
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