Warrington 2nd Team - Pack Is The Platform for Excellent Win
Typical Craig Byrne Effort Seals Victory
Warrington 2nd XV 17 Sandbach 2nd XV 15
As the score line suggests, this was a hard fought, evenly balanced game where the result was in doubt until the final whistle. On a day when it rained throughout the game, the conditions could be said to have favoured Warrington as dominance in the set scrum was a real advantage when the slippery conditions inevitably lead to mistakes.
The visitors opened the scoring with penalty in the 10th minute after a slick backs move took them deep into Warrington territory. Warrington struck back 10 minutes later when they gained a 5m after scrum half Matt Rockey had been held up over the Sandbach line. The solid front row of Tom Horrocks-Patten, Sam Bennett and Alex Marland, ably assisted by the not inconsiderable bulks of Matt Oatway and Phil Lyons in the second row had the visiting pack retreating and captain Shaun Yoxall at No8 secured the touchdown which went unconverted.
Warrington were unable to secure the restart, however, and Sandbach almost immediately re-established their 3 point lead were with a try wide on the left. Intelligent kicking from standoff Ben Dixon put Warrington back on the front foot pinning Sandbach deep in their own half. With 30 minutes gone Warrington were again looking for a push over try but after two attempts were thwarted an impatient cross kick handed the ball back to Sandbach who scampered the length of the park to score wide on the left. The conversion stretched their lead to 10.
Just before the interval Warrington bounced back. A beautifully weighted kick from Ben Dixon crossed the try line and hard-working centre Steve Pennington won the race to the touchdown.
The third quarter of the game was played in the Sandbach half with Warrington having the majority of possession. Good defence from Sandbach, who counter-rucked aggressively and were quickly up on the Warrington back line, kept their line intact until centre Craig Byrne broke the stalemate. After a typically rumbustuous run, he appeared to be held up over the line by three defenders but managed to wrestle himself to the ground for Warrington’s third try. Rockey converted to edge Warrington 2 points clear.
With 10 minutes to go, scrums reverted to uncontested through an injury to the Sandbach front row and although Warrington continued to press, their most potent weapon had been effectively decommissioned. With a minute to go the Sandbach winger under extreme pressure on his own line got the ball away to his centre inside and the visitors back line, who had always looked threatening when not nipped in the bud, stormed up to the Warrington 10m line. The tackle ending the move was judged high giving the visitors one last opportunity for victory. The unsuccessful kick brought the game to a close and a well-earned victory to Warrington.
Captain Yoxall ruminated “ Quicker ball from the rucks might have made our life easier but we played well to the conditions and deserved the win.”