Bach have Nuns on the run
SANDBACH RUFC 1ST XV 38
After a disappointing defensive display the previous week, Sandbach were well motivated and put in a good quality performance, to see off a little out-of-sorts Nuneaton (writes Paddy Davenport).
The scoreline makes it look a little more comfortable than it was, but after being clinical in their finishing in the first half, when they also had a couple of things go their way, Sandbach were sufficiently well organised to not allow the visitors back in.
Grant Hallam will grab the headlines with a hat-trick of tries, but this was a good solid team performance, in not the easiest of conditions on a cool, breezy day.
Sandbach got off to the best of starts, scoring in just the first couple of minutes, when an early penalty put them inside the visitors’ 22m area. A throw to the back and a lineout drive, disrupted the visitors’ defence and as the ball was spun back to touch, Hallam in an unaccustomed role as winger, cut inside and was able to roll the defence to score the first of his tries.
Mark Bird showed that the work he has been putting in since taking over as principal kicker was paying dividends in knocking over the conversion.
From then on, the game was fairly even, with Nuneaton keen to play for territory and utilising the experienced boot of fly half Rickie Aley as he reduced the deficit with a simple penalty, 10 minutes later.
Sandbach were prepared to show greater enterprise and this was rewarded as they ran back another Nuneaton kick for position. This took them back into the Nuns’ 22, where a half break from centre Jack Leech put Ross Sutherland away and he drew the full back to send hooker Josh Brown over for his tenth try of the season.
Nuneaton reduced the lead after half an hour of play with a second Aley penalty as Sandbach were penalised for offside, to make the difference just six points.
Minutes later Sandbach struck what proved to be a fatal blow, as with Nuns pressing, Hallam intercepted to go three quarters of the length of the field to score.
A second Bird conversion stretching the lead. This seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Warwickshire boys and just before the half-time whistle, full back Jonny Edwards scored his first try for the club.
The former Sale FC man forced his way over as Sandbach went through the phases, after another Jack Leech break had created the initial opening.
Bird’s conversion completing the scoring of the half, meaning that Sandbach had already got the try bonus point in their pockets, as well as a healthy 20-point lead at oranges.
It was important that Sandbach kept their focus and didn’t let the visitors back into the game and they did this well, as they were content to play territory.
With the Nuneaton lineout not having its best day with the strong cross wind, Sandbach were able to play in the right areas and 15 minutes into the half, to the delight of the crowd, club captain Dan Stubbs charged over from a lineout peel.
Nuneaton did manage a try with 15 to go as Sandbach gave away a flurry of penalties and despite some sterling defence, eventually prop Ben Spokes forced his way over; Aley adding the conversion.
But it was never going to be enough and as Sandbach intelligently rotated the bench throughout the game, they proved the stronger outfit as Hallam grabbed his third just before the end.
Another Leech break created the initial in roads and several phases later, a pass over the top by Bird saw the winger over. A well-judged conversion against the breeze by Bird, completed the scoring.
The match was sponsored by the president and committee of the Old Sandbachians Association, in the form of honorary member and one of the major players when the club was reformed in 1956, Joe Riley. They selected the popular Kostja Vezanovs as man of the match, which was a fitting reward to the work he has put in and improvements made since joining the club earlier in the season.
This was a good day for Sandbach all round as the Saxons also had a fine win 12-52 at Stockport, while the Stormers also had an impressive result winning 54-22 at home against their Wirral counterparts.
Sandbach 1st XV travel to Nottingham next week for their first visit to Paviors RFC and will be looking for a similar level of commitment to ensure they do not suffer — as they did the last time they travelled.