Sandbach 23 v Newport 22

Newport fell just short in their away fixture with Sandbach on Saturday losing by the odd point. Despite some valiant defending and enterprising attacking play Newport were unable to dig themselves out of the thirteen point hole they accumulated in the first fifteen minutes. A week off can be a blessing or a curse and we can only wonder as to whether last week’s postponed fixture with Peterborough Lions lay behind Newport’s slow start to this game.

Following a successfully converted penalty Sanbach’s first try came from ball secured at a lineout within their own twenty two metre line. The ball was moved quickly across the back line to the right winger Davies who went in at the corner for the home side. Another slick move at a lineout on the Newport five metre line saw Sandbach hooker Brown go in at the corner. The excellent lineout and scrum work of Sandbach was a feature of the game all afternoon.

Newport responded after twenty six minutes when, following a win at a scrum on half way, Sam Brown successfully held off his opposite number and offloaded to Toby Evans to run in the score. There then followed a sequence of three yellow cards incurred by Newport in the space of five minutes. During this period Sandbach were awarded a penalty try for a collapsed maul and added a penalty which was matched by Benny Elliot for Newport. Going in at half time twenty three to ten down and with only twelve men on the pitch Newport had their work cut out for the second half. They proved up for the task emerging obviously determined and ready for the contest.

Prop and sometime hooker Jack Wells started the fight back with a try on 52 minutes. Seemingly brought to ground Wells showed great balance and footwork a winger would have been proud of to go over for the score. On seventy minutes Newport forced a turnover in their own twenty two with Benny Elliot kicking into the space behind the Sandbach line. A determined chase by Ryan Crowley and Sam Brown saw Brown charge down an attempted clearance which he ran in for the score. Despite some determined late pressure including a couple of incisive breaks by centre Monty Maule Newport were unable to add to their tally leaving them agonisingly short of the victory.

As has been the case in the recent past Sandbach away has proved to be somewhat of a bogey fixture for Newport. The grit and application the side showed in resolute defence and attacking persistence, especially when down to twelve men means however there are certainly positives to take away. A special mention for flanker Luke Kendall who made his 100th appearance for the first team on Saturday, an occasion he marked with another hard working performance.

Newport’s run of games against the top sides in the division continues on Saturday with a home game against third placed Sheffield who come into the game with five wins from six. Kick off 3-00pm.