Wilmslow 8 - Sandbach 29
Sun 24 April 2005
ATLAST- THEY'VE DONE IT!!
A fantastic result and dynamic performance by a quality team and great bunch of lads who thoroughly deserved their result- AND WINNERS OF THE CHESHIRE CUP.
This is their fourth appearance in the final in five years, but just failed on the final hurdle in their previous encounters, having been beaten by Altrincham Kersal on two occasions and by Wilmslow last year. But this time they were out and out winners, putting in one of their best all round performances in the process. It was great to hear their yells of joy, and to see their immense grins as the final whistle blew. And it wasn't as though the result was close, having scored four tries to Wilmslow's one.
As expected, Wilmslow threw everything at them at the start, and forced Sandbach to defend out of their wits for the first 20 minutes. An early penalty was conceeded, giving Wilmslow the opportunity to take the lead, with which they duly obliged. Two more opportunities in this period provided Wilmslow with the chance of increasing their lead, but missed on both occasions.
But it wasn't all one way traffic, and Sandbach were awarded a penalty close to the half-way line. It must have been a good 40 metres from the posts, and neither was it straight in front, but Sandbach opted for the kick knowing that they would need to take every chance they were given to put points on the board. And so stand-off Will Cargill placed the ball and lined himself up for the kick. All was silent as he swung his boot, but he struck the ball to perfection and the ball sailed through the posts with more to spare, greeted with a great cheer from players and supporters alike. Now it was 3 all, and Sandbach were beginning to win their fair share of the ball. Nevertheless, they conceeded a try after about 15 minutes, but
maintained their composure and accepted the result.
But as the game progressed, they began to increase the pressure on their opponents, and spent more and more time in Wilmslow's half. Finally their first chance came, and after the forwards had set up a ruck, scrum-half Will Cliff spun the ball out to Will Cargill who sent the ball out on a mis-move to outside centre Richard Murray. Richard crossed the gain-line and with the Wilmslow backs rapidly decending on him, shipped the ball out to right wing Sam Stubbs who sprinted for the line. Sam had virtually no room, but just managed to ground the ball right in the corner. Will Cargill took the conversion, striking the ball as well as he had done with his earlier penalty, but just missed to the right.
Sandbach nearly took the lead as the first half came to a close, after blind-side flanker Matt Jackson picked up a loose ball and scrambled for the line, although appeared to have knocked the ball on. The referee said play on, and Matt went over, but the try was disallowed after the linesman informed the referee that the ball had been knocked on previously by a Wilmslow player (Matt had indeed knocked the ball on so the try wouldn't have counted in any case). So they came back for a scrum, which was shortly followed by the whistle for half time.
So it was 8 all, and Sandbach had so importantly levelled the score, leaving everything to play for in the final 35 minutes.
Sandbach went out and out straight from the kick-off, from which they were rewarded with a score in much the same manner as the first half, allowing Sam Stubbs to gather his second try. Will Cargill was presented with another difficult kick in the corner to gain the extra 2 points, but casually sent the ball on its way straight through the uprights as if it was the simplist of things to do. Wilmslow may well have been thinking that they must at all costs avoid giving any penalties away
anywhere in their own half, with Will in such fine form. It was certainly a boost to Sandbach to know that they had such a potent points scorer.
But Wilmslow only had to convert a try to draw level again, so it certainly wasn't time to relax. Sure enough, Wilmslow battled on to keep the ball, but it was comforting to see that in spite of anything they tried, they just couldn't break
Sandbach's outstanding defence. So with still 20 minutes to go, the game had reached a critical stage where the next score could mean the difference between gaining a comfortable lead, or else drawing all square again. With that clearly in mind, Sandbach continued to force their opponents onto the back foot, and as they pressed for the line, a quick pass from a driving maul allowed Will Cargill to pop the ball into the path of hooker Andy Nash on the charge. Andy's perfectly timed and angled run split Wilmslow's defence and he went through under the posts unopposed. Suffice to say, with such a straightforward kick, Will Cargill converted, leaving Wilmslow with the predicament of having to score atleast three times to re-take the lead. But with Sandbach now much in control, this never looked even vaguelly likely.
The final try, which came with 5 minutes to go and with the match already won, summed up the days performance. This arose from a speculative kick from the base of the scrum by Will Cliff, close to his own try line. This gave left wing Alex George a chance to 'burst off the blocks' in pursuit of the ball. His outstanding acceleration and speed soon took him past the first defender, but the bounce wasn't kind, so Alex had to kick and continue the chase. The ball bounced on into Wilmslow's 22, and by now having left three defenders for dead, a controlled kick was all that was needed for Alex to have sprinted from one corner to the other and drop on the ball. He made his footballing skills look easy, and sure enough the ball rolled over the line for Alex to ground it and deliver the killer blow. Will Cargill took the conversion, not an easy one again .... but I'm sure you can guess the outcome!
And so all that was left to do was to collect their winners medals..... AND THE CHESHIRE CUP.
There were also three very gratified coaches- Colin Stent, Paul Jackson and Ali B 'senior'- who got as much, if not in some ways more, out of the occasion after all the years of hard work (and headaches!) associated with coaching the team.
The team was:
Matt Moore, Andy Nash (C), Nick Cooper, Ben Middleton, Ben Colloty, Matt Jackson, Ben Phillips, Lee Wardle, Will Cliff, Will Cargill, Alex George, Luke Butler, Richard Murray, Sam Stubbs and Ali Burton;
and the substitutes Liam Stent, Mike Beeston, Craig Wardle, Matt Fuller, Nick Brown, Richard Welch and Sam Sherratt.