Sandbach dodge banana skin
SANDBACH 32 PETERBOROUGH LIONS 0
This was far from a vintage Sandbach performance, but in the final analysis it was another five-point bonus win and a potential banana skin avoided. It was always going to be a difficult afternoon as a result of the recent rains making conditions far from ideal. This was best illustrated by the fact that Sandbach’s game was one of only two played in the league. So, with Storm Jorge howling across the pitch and conditions soft underfoot, it was understandable there were errors aplenty, but Sandbach did enough to defeat the struggling Peterborough Lions. Further, Sandbach can take pride in keeping the Lions to nil, which despite their lowly position has only happened to them once before this season.
Following relegation from National Two last season the Lions have found it tough going back in the Midlands Premier, having lost a lot of players and struggling to recruit. A number of their South Sea Islanders also experienced snow for the first time, as they made their way to Cheshire, so unsurprisingly the circumstances weren’t in their favour either. Neither side made the best of starts as both struggled to come to terms with the conditions, with the first quarter being a particularly scrappy affair. Sandbach had dominance up front and were well organised in defence, but were struggling to finish some of the openings they created. Eventually Sandbach did open the scoring after a series of forward drives, when Josh Brown was driven over for his 11th of the season. Sandbach extended the lead 15 minutes later as they went through the phases and quick hands put centre Jack Leech through a gap, for his first of the game. Mark Bird defied the strong breeze to kick the conversion, for Sandbach to go in at the break 12 points up.
Sandbach came back out and again seemed to start rather sluggishly, with more handling errors and looking a little irritated. Bird added a penalty to stretch the lead and Sandbach had moments of pressure, but a combination of a lack of accuracy and the cold, strong wind, meant they were frustrated. Peterborough Lions then had their best spell in the game and the Sandbach defence was severely tested and despite losing prop Monty Weatherby to the bin, they held strong and kept the visitors out.
Back to full strength and with the Lions visibly tiring, Sandbach capitalised in the last 10 minutes, as once more they went through the phases, for Weatherby to make amends, as he smashed his way over in the corner. Sandbach now had their best spell of the game as Leech added his second, following a series of off-load and half-breaks from the kick-off. Weatherby then grabbed his brace in the final minute, barging his way over to put a more reflective score line than had been envisaged, a quarter earlier. Bird knocked over the simple conversion, to complete the day’s play.
Sandbach now have a bit of a break, following the demise of South Leicester and a scheduled free weekend, so do not return to action until 21st March, when they travel to Abbeydale to play Sheffield. It does at least give them a bit of recovery time, with flanker Ross Sutherland damaging his AC shoulder joint in the game, joining injured 1st XV captain Jimmy Gore in the treatment room, after he broke a bone in his hand and damaged a finger tendon the previous weekend.
Plenty of action for the Saxons, though, who won a tight contest 32-28, with a late Kieran Allsop try snatching the match. Earlier in the game regular 1st XV winger Elliott Morris scored a hat trick as he returned from injury. Meanwhile the Stormers also had a good result beating Newcastle Seconds 5-42 on the road in Stoke-on-Trent.