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Match Report - Lymm 29 v 14 Sandbach

It was very much a game of two halves, as Sandbach failed to hold on to their two try advantage at the break, with Lymm’s second half surge taking the game and moving them above league leaders Blackburn to top the table.

The scoreline rather flatters the home team, as the Bach put in a spirited performance, but injuries to players and a failure to take the chances they had, were critical in them coming up short. The table at this time of the season does not lie and Lymm are a quality side. When they get front foot ball, they are able to move the ball at pace and with their quick backs, are a difficult side to handle, particularly once they get into rhythm.

The opening quarter was a cagey affair with both defences on top. Sandbach had already suffered the first of several player injuries, when Club Captain Jack Seddon left the field on a stretcher, for what was subsequently found to be a broken leg and dislocated ankle. Seddon landing awkwardly from a lineout just four minutes in, on the unforgiving artificial AGP surface at Crouchley Lane. Sandbach clearly had the edge in the scrum and were also causing the home side issues with their driving lineout and eventually took the lead with a well worked set play. This saw blind side wing Joel Grout hit the line at pace and burst clear and though the player having ran half the length of the pitch was stopped inches from the line, it was illegally made round the neck, resulting in a penalty try and ten minutes in the bin for Lymm winger Jennings.

With the man advantage Sandbach began to dominate and eventually scored their second try, having battered away at the home line with a series of forward drives. These were held out but an ensuing penalty given by Lymm in their desperation to keep the visitors out, was taken quickly by the Bach scrum half Laurie Essenhigh enabling him to scramble over. Full back James Preston slotting over the conversion. The half ended with Sandbach once more having the opportunity to score with a lineout on the Lymm line, but not for the first time this season the chance went begging, proving critical soon after.

At the interval the Bach supporters were hopeful, but this optimism was short lived as almost immediately after the restart Lymm narrowed the margin when a defensive kick was charged down and regathered by Lymm lock James Yates, who strolled over. Soon after Sandbach lost flanker Ali Burton to the bin for a high tackle and their big prop Mark Irving left the field having taken a knock. This was quickly exploited by Lymm with a simple pick up from the scrum seeing No. 8 Oli Higginson over and a Cormac Nolan conversion, reducing the deficit to just two points in no time.

The momentum was now with the promotion candidates and with Sandbach centre Jack Leech another victim of the plastic pitch, the visitors had to again reorganise. It was the surface which once more worked in the home sides favour when a ball kicked through took an unfamiliar bounce, ricocheted off a Sandbach player and went the way of the home team, into the arms of the onrushing Harry Martin to speed away to score. Nolan doing the honours with the conversion. Sandbach did have their moments notably an interception from fly half Nick Allsop, but were guilty of erring in promising positions and as they tired the game began to slip away from them.

Lymm’s final try was a quality one, going through the phases and moving the ball at pace, they eventually created an edge and with plenty of support play, were able to get through the scrambled defence and centre Scott Redfern scored, with Nolan adding the extras. The full back then completed the scoring with ten to go with a penalty to increase the lead, to put the game out of reach.

Sandbach will need to dust themselves off, review the match and assess the injury situation, as the games are coming thick and fast at the moment. Next weeks trip to the Memorial Ground to play Stockport is looking critical, if the final third of the season isn’t just going to fade away. This is not just another league game, but a double header, as it is also the semi final of the Cheshire Cup, which Sandbach will be keen to defend, having won it for the first time last year. Sandbach will need to learn from the pain and convert the chances they are still creating, but there are no easy games at this level of rugby.

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