Losing Bonus Point in Narrow Loss
By Paddy Davenport
Disappointing Result in Difficult Conditions
Sandbach went down by the narrowest of margins, in difficult conditions, on the 3G pitch at Derby. Despite dominating the scrummage and generally winning all their own lineout ball, Sandbach surprisingly had little possession throughout a physical and competitive game. Derby were largely content to play one out rugby and retain the ball, and though Sandbach’s defence largely dealt with this comfortably, this meant that the game was mostly played in the visitor’s half. Though no one is blaming the referee, some key decisions did go against the Bradwall Road boys, however they were also guilty of not taking the limited chances that they had.
With a constant drizzle throughout the game, this was always going to make handling difficult. Plus, Sandbach were also guilty of making a few uncharacteristic errors when they did have the ball, particularly early on in the game. Further the advantage of training and playing on a synthetic pitch, is always going to favour the home side and the visitors took a while to adjust to the bounce and ease of stepping, on the artificial grass. However, it was Sandbach who took the lead, when the returning Benny Elliot knocked over a penalty after ten minutes. Derby hit back though minutes later, taking advantage of a quick tap penalty, for a high tackle decision, for a converted try from the Derby scrum half Tizard. Another Elliot penalty reduced the gap to 7 v 6, with just quarter of an hour on the clock, before winger Elliott Morris intercepted a laboured Derby pass, for Sandbach to take the lead.
Benny Elliot missed the kick and that would prove to be critical in the final analysis. Derby appeared content to keep the ball, without going too far and looking for penalty decisions to go their way, to advance down the park. This strategy proved effective in them dominating territory, without looking particularly threatening. Therefore, it was disappointing when Sandbach conceded the decisive score from a set play, just before the half time whistle, as the Derby centre Marsden scored.
The second half proved to be a stalemate, with neither side adding to the score. Both teams had opportunities, with a couple of driving lineouts for the home side and a five-metre scrum for Sandbach, when Derby had been reduced to fourteen, for deliberately pulling down a maul. As it was, all these instances resulted in penalties being awarded to the defending team and despite the tension, neither side were able to get the vital score.
Sandbach will be rather frustrated by the result, which illustrates that there is not a lot to choose between all the sides at this level. Clearly having lost a couple of players and having 2 or 3 new recruits, it was always going to take a while for the side to gel and poor weather conditions will always be a leveller. However, another impressive performance by the Saxons in winning 47 v 13 against their Glossop counterparts, shows there is competition for places. Accordingly, Sandbach will be looking to get back to winning ways, when the youthful Doncaster Phoenix visit the Bach next week.