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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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League leaders Sandbach too strong for Carlisle

Carlisle 11 Sandbach 28: North One West league leaders Sandbach proved too strong for Carlisle at Warwick Road but the city side are still outside the relegation zone.

Rugby union photo
Carlisle's James Rocke drives into the Sandbach defence

Carlisle will no doubt reflect that they had a number of opportunities to sink the Cheshire outfit, but were unable to do so. Sandbach were able to return home still with just one defeat on their record.

The increasingly deteriorating weather was certainly a factor as both teams struggled to retain possession and capitalise on advantages

Considering the adverse elements, scrums were few and far between, as the two teams took extra care to avoid mistakes in such slippery conditions.

Both teams started well, and an exchange of penalties in the first 15 minutes of the game opened the scoring for the hosts and their visitors.

Two minutes in, Sandbach were penalised for not releasing, and Carlisle fly half Glen Weightman was able to convert. After the restart, Sandbach turned over the ball and began attacking the Carlisle half.

The visitors made a break down the wing, and passed over the Carlisle try line, only to be called back as the touch judge ruled he had overstepped the line.

From the line-out, Sandbach quickly turned the ball over, and Carlisle’s loose head prop Joe Anderson was penalised for being off his feet in the ruck so on eight minutes, Nick Cargill was able to convert the penalty, to level the score.

Carlisle begun creeping into Sandbach’s half as their dominance in the set piece became more and more apparent. Early engagement in the scrum gifted Carlisle another penalty, which Weightman duly converted.

After the first 20 minutes, the score stood at 6-3 to Carlisle. Although the city side occasionally broke through the Sandbach line in the first half, they were let down by mistakes.

West Cumbrian second-row Callum Rowlandson broke through the visitor’s defence 10 metres out from the try line, only to be held up by the visitors defenders. Carlisle squandered another chance as some quick hands created opportunity for Carlisle’s scrum half Tim Hughes, who unfortunately fumbled the ball over the Sandbach try line.

Sandbach soon realised they were not going to break the Carlisle defence through running lines, and a kicking game developed between the two sides. The visitor’s back three were able to produce some testing kicks that bounced perfectly away from Carlisle’s full back, and on 34 minutes, a cross-field kick to winger Rich Murray produced the first try of the game. Cargill was able to convert with ease.

Towards the end of the first half, Sandbach again sought to attack Carlisle’s defence by kicking into their half.

Carlisle were soon awarded a penalty for infringements at the ruck, but this decision was reversed as blows were exchanged between the opposing props. Carlisle’s loose head Anderson was shown the yellow card, and Cargill was able to add three points to his tally, making the score 6-16 going into half-time.

Carlisle’s pack dominated the set pieces for most of the match, but sometimes found themselves on the back foot as the match wore on. In the opening few minutes of the second half, Sandbach added a further five points to their account, again scoring from a cross-field kick.

This time, Sandbach’s winger kicked the ball on, and a perfect bounce allowed full-back Jack Leech to touch down.

Carlisle were soon back to 15 men as a scrum in Sandbach’s half enabled Carlisle to bring on front row replacement Robert Robertson.

Back to full strength, the home side were able to attack the visitor’s defensive line with a new found intensity.

Great forwards’ work on Sandbach’s own 22 brought Carlisle within metres of a try on several occasions, and were unfortunate to not come away with a score.

Sandbach were eventually able to clear the ball from their line, and kick the ball up field.

A scrum in Carlisle’s half allowed the visitors to once again score from a kick, this time a grubber kick which proved too unpredictable for Carlisle’s back three. Jack Leech touched the ball down, and Cargill again converted, to extend the lead to 28-6.

The game became increasingly more erratic as the Carlisle forwards attempted to drive ball up field, and Sandbach tried to out-pace their Cumbrian counterparts.

After 65 minutes of solid play, tight head prop Eddie Faulder was replaced by Robertson, who made his second appearance of the game.

In the 75th minute veteran Simon Little broke through the Sandbach defence in Carlisle’s own half, offloading to Lewis Boyd who ran the length of the visitor’s half to touch down and add five points to Carlisle’s total.

Although beaten by 17 points Carlisle can take a lot from the massive improvements they’ve shown in recent weeks. Carlisle now sit above the relegation zone, but Saturday’s loss means that next week’s game is a must win.

Next Saturday, the Warwick Road outfit host Anselmians, who sit one place below Carlisle and will be looking to claw themselves out of the drop zone.

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