Sandbach 10 - Buxton 3 0
Sat 29 November 2008
"La Botte" habite toujours à la Route de Bradwall!! That's right; the first of our battles with our chums from the Dark Side, Buxton, saw the Boot retain its rightful place in sunny Sandbach, although only just!!
If you were to ask anyone associated with the 4th team which team they were looking forward to face the most, the undisputed, surely only(??), answer would be Buxton. With Buxton games being more popular amongst the general 4th team collective than Zac Effron (ask Jammer) is with 10 year old girls, turn out was always going to be high. Needless to say I had 20 players on Saturday afternoon once Jay had decided to go and get changed and 2 people couldn't make it in the end so I was certainly spoiled for choice with my starting line-up which ended up being Babs (making his first 4th team appearance of the season) and Jammer propping the multi-talented and heroic Plumby at hooker. Paul Standring and Griffo made up the second row and the fearsome back row consisted of Rich Gilett at 7, Dave at 6 and a returning Captain Intense-o at 8. Ash continued his schooling at 9, I took the 10 shirt, Rob & Ed forged their centre partnership further at 12 & 13 respectively, new boy and previous weeks try scorer Tom took one wing with Dom returning to take the opposite flank and Gazza roamed the field from 15 as usual.
Having lost the toss, I kicked off and we put Buxton under early pressure right from the start, so much so that within the first 5 minutes or so, the first points were on the board, courtesy of yours truly. The forwards rucked and mauled their way to within 5 metres of the line, the ball came out to me from Ed, operating at 9 as Ash was at the bottom of a ruck and I managed to evade my tacklers to cross the line. The fairly easy conversion was missed horribly by Ed so the score remained 5-0. The ensuing re-start was returned into the Buxton half by Sandbach and set the tone for the game - unfortunately not in the way Sandbach wanted. Too many penalties conceded, handling errors and incorrect decisions, allied with excellent defence from Buxton meant golden opportunities were wasted time and time again, allowing Buxton to clear their lines. Set pieces were once again an area of concern. As always, Buxton had a wily and very physical pack, who looked to dominate the scrums early on. Sandbach's pack managed parity for the majority of the game but having one of your props playing hooker (which he hadn't done for about 18 months) is never the ideal situation against an opposition pack like that. Line-outs worked ok in the main, with both sides managing some clean ball and disrupting opposition ball on the odd occasion.
The backs had to contend with a very slippery Buxton 10 (who usually plays 15 if memory serves??) and he almost tied the scores with Buxtons best change of the half when he avoided most of the Sandbach players on his run towards the corner flag. Luckily, Gaz and someone else (Tom??) managed to hit him just as he dove for the line and forced him to drop the ball over the line.
The first half petered out with Sandbach again wasting a point scoring opportunity and so at half time the score was 5-0 to Sandbach.
At half time, we said we would stop tacking ball from rucks without support and that we would stop giving away these penalties that were keeping Buxton in the game.
The second half followed pretty much the same pattern as the first unfortunately without the scoring, with Sandbach determined to make the game a close one by conceding penalty after penalty. Buxton never chose the kick at goal though which is credit to how they wanted to play the game and instead chose to use their #2 lineout jumper who won most of the balls that came his way in the game. Substitutions were made by both sides frequently as they tried to take advantage of fresh legs, knowing the next score would be vital. Unfortunately, it was at this point that Sandbachs scrum began to creak slightly and Ash & Martin had to work hard to get any sort of clean ball from the scrums. Fortunately, Martin is superb at snaffling ball from seemingly lost situations and the final score of the match came from such a position. Sandbach were awarded a scrum in the final minute of the game and came under huge pressure as Buxton knew this was their last chance. The scrum began to wheel and look like it was going to be turnover ball, scrum down, Buxton. Luckily Martin was aware of the situation and picked up the ball just in time. He broke down the blindside with myself, Gaz and Mick Hood in support. One opposition player was sucked in and Martin released Gaz who drew another player in and passed to Mick. All Mick had to do was keep his legs going for long enough to outpace the covering Buxton player and cross the line. I watched in horror as he seemed to be slowing and then I saw the Buxton player tackle Mick and they slid along the ground - from where I was I couldn't tell if he'd made it over the line or not. Luckily, the referee could and he had. 10-0 Sandbach. In thickening fog, the tricky touchline conversion was missed and the referee's whistle blew for full time.
Thanks to everyone who turned out on Saturday and HUGE apologies to Preeny and Ged once again for not getting them onto the pitch. I think the thought of winning got in the way of the usual 4th team motto of "everyone gets a game" and I apologise for that - the win did feel good though :-) Thanks as always to Buxton for making the journey and a thoroughly enjoyable game. I look forward to the re-match, although I might have "lost" the boot by then just in case their performances begin to get the results they deseve!! Finally, thanks to Seth for stepping in on Friday night and saying he'd ref for us and give his leg a run out.
Best move of the match: I'm going to be biased and say the forwards work, Ed's pass from the base of a ruck and then, more importantly, my feint and side-step to cross the line for the first points of the game.
Funniest moment of the match: I believe at one point, upon being told that if they wanted to ref a match they should join the Derbyshire Refs Society, about 4 Buxton players (including Steve & possibly Howard) in unison cried from the sideline that they would do so first thing on Sunday.
Jammers Kulture Korner: Jammer made a welcome(??) return to the 4s this weekend after managing to squeeze his poor blistered feet into some borrowed boots (don't ask!!). His famous utterances also made a comeback as at one point, when discussing where the ball was supposed to go to after a botched line-out, he gave away the code behind our calls. Luckily Buxton never heard him. Must remember the gaffer tape next Saturday.
Sandbach were: 1. Babs 2. Plumby 3. Jammer 4. Andy 5. Paul S 6. Dave 7. Rich G 8. Martin 9. Ash 10. Ric 11. Tom 12. Rob 13. Ed 14. Dom 15. Gaz 16. Ryan 17. Ged 18. Mick 19. Jay (eventually) 20. Preeny
Tries: Ric x 1, Mick x 1