Wirral Lose Out on Sandal Slope
A rejigged Wirral side find the heavy going too much in the second half.
Another long away trip this week to Sandal (near Wakefield) where the drizzle continued for the whole of the time we were there and the pitch was heavy at the start and was really churned up by the time the match ended.
Wirral made a number of changes following the injuries incurred over the last couple of games with Mark Williams
moving to fly half and Craig Harvey
moving to centre alongside his brother Dan, Mark Gidman
coming in on the wing. Chris Hughes
suffered a shoulder injury last week and was replaced by STEVE PENDERGAST. Paul Lewis
came into the back row at No 8 with Matt Dowler
moving to open side in place of the injured, ROB PEARL. The subs were Ryan Higginson
, Ryan Stead
and Chris Tyson
Wirral played with the slope in the first half and were soon on the attack. After a number of phases of play in the Sandal 20m area, the breakthrough came in the 3rd minute when the ball was spun right and James Annetts
in the line crossed close to the corner flag. The same player converted well from the touchline. It became apparent that Sandal themselves were looking to use their backs and were eager to get the ball out wide. In the 8th minute a promising move was brought to a halt when Matt Loon
intercepted and had an unopposed run from 45m to score under the posts, which James Annetts
converted- 0-14 (8minutes).
A kick through from Sandal troubled the Wirral defence but fortunately CRAIG was on hand to touch down but it showed that the home team were a threat even when playing up the slope. Wirral recovered and the ball went down the line, a half break from Matt Loon
allowed him to put a grubber kick in field and Mark Williams
following through won the race to kick over the line and touchdown giving James Annetts
an easy conversion, 0-21 (14 minutes). Sandal now came into the game more and spent considerable time in the Wirral 20m area following a couple of incisive breaks but the Wirral defence was able to hold out.
A 60m penalty from Wirral trickled into touch 2m from the Sandal whitewash and was followed by a line out from the home team which was not straight. Wirral had two 5m scrums; the first was an attempted wheel which was reset. Although Wirral were advancing forward could not get the drive to get over the line. Penalties were given in Wirral’s favour but no yellow card! A number of thrusts were made towards the Sandal line, the ball was flung wide and back again where a short pass from Craig Harvey
enabled brother, Dan to cross for the bonus point try, the conversion just failed, 0-26 (35 minutes). In the minutes before half time, a decisive break from Sandal split the Wirral defence and it was only good tackling that kept Sandal at bay. Chris Tyson
came on for Matt Dowler
(blood injury- gash to chin). Half time 0-26.
did not come out for the second half, as he had a hamstring niggle, so Matt Dowler
returned to the action with Ryan Higginson
coming on for STEVE PENDERGAST. Wirral had to rejig the team following Craig’s departure. Wirral needed time to consolidate their lead and get the defence set up but within two minutes of the re-start Sandal were on the scoreboard when an inside pass enabled centre, Steve Nolson to cross, the conversion was missed.
came on for HAYDN LONG. This first try gave Sandal the impetus and a kick downfield by Wirral did not find touch and taken by full back, Jack Townend who broke through the initial line of defence and raced clear to score under the posts, the try was converted by Greg Wood. 12-26 (46 minutes). All the pressure was coming from Sandal and the third try came after 58 minutes when poor tackling allowed prop, Alex Elder to score under the posts and duly converted by Wood, 19-26. As with Sandal in the first half, Wirral then had a spell of pressure up-field but the Sandal defence remained intact as the ground conditions became more difficult.
Sandal came back on the attack and a long kick downfield again put Wirral under pressure, the scrum collapsed, when Jack Yarker
slipped. The referee then sent him to the sin bin- 68 minutes. One minute later, Sandal spun the ball out wide and Jack Townend had an easy run in for his second try and the conversion from Greg Wood equalised the score at 26 apiece. Sandal could see the win now and a long kick downfield was fielded 4m from the Wirral line, on clearing the ball was passed back over the line and unfortunately knocked on. From this position Sandal built pressure before scoring through No.8, Nick Carolan wide out- again the conversion was made by Wood. 33-26 -33 minutes.
Wirral strove to move up-field but play was held in midfield as the final minutes kicked. With the final play of the day, Sandal spun the ball down the line and DAN HARVEY almost caught the interception some 50m out with no one in front of him but it was not Wirral’s day. If there was any satisfaction they at least came away with 2 points.
There is no match next week as we prepare for the England v Wales clash.