Not the Beginning to the League Season We were Looking For
By Paddy Davenport
Bright Start Short Lived
Sandbach 17 v Bournville 43
Impressive preseason victories against Kendal and Wilmslow proved to be a bit of a false dawn as the realities of the first Midlands Premier League game hit home. After a textbook start and early try from Matt Jackson, it slowly began to unravel and in the end Bournville ran out easy winners. Bournville on the back of an unbeaten run from early January and having recruited strongly over the summer were a decent outfit, with their backline certainly catching the eye. Overall though Sandbach made it a little too easy for them, as defensive frailties began to reappear and as the game wore on they made too many unforced errors to really threaten the visitors.
Sandbach had started brightly and dominated the opening minutes which after a number of phases, saw flanker Jackson put through a hole in the Bournville midfield defence and he cruised under the posts from thirty yards out. Benny Elliott added the conversion and Sandbach were 7 v 0 up after five minutes. Bournville drew level five minutes later when following a penalty for taking a man off his feet in the tackle, the subsequent driving maul was held up, and the home defence was caught napping as Bournville scrum half Sam Brown slipped round the edge to score. Former Birmingham Bees fly half McGahan adding the conversion. Sandbach however regained the lead with an Elliot penalty as the chocolate boys were reduced to fourteen men for a late tackle.
Somehow this seemed to galvanise the visitors who began to employ the simple but effect tactic of coming around the corner and disrupting the Sandbach defence, then fast hands across the park to exploit the space out wide. Bournville wingers Nellany and Smith were the main beneficiaries to this with a try a piece and with the last play of the first half the game was effectively over, when Bournville scored from a threequarters set play off a scrum for a 10 v 26 half time lead and a four try bonus point already secured.
Having made a change at half time to bring on the more experienced Liam Carpenter into the backrow, Sandbach were a little more competitive in the second half, with Bournville astutely rotating their older bigger forwards on the replacement bench, to keep their pack reasonably fresh. Sandbach by now were chasing the game and in their desperation, this brought errors, but they did manage a try from winger Joe Jepps with twenty-five minutes to go, Elliot adding the conversion. It was however never going to be enough with Bournville’s sixth and last try summing up the afternoon, as a pass went astray, the ball was hacked through and full back Jarvis managing to win the chase to score. Sandbach further suffered a few injuries and knocks during the half and these didn’t help their continuity at all, as the game pretty much fizzled out.
Sandbach will be disappointed with this display and will be looking to be more aggressive in defence and accurate and patient in attack next time out. A home defeat to a recently promoted team is not the ideal start to the League season, but with 25 matches to go, there is still much rugby yet to be played. Next week sees the visit of Bridgnorth and having lost both their encounters against them last season, Sandbach will be looking to avenge that and get their season going.