Lymm 31, Sandbach 20
The eagerly awaited junior colts, Cheshire Cup Final was here at last. We benefitted from home advantage because Lymm had been chosen again by the Cheshire RFU to hold the junior and Senior colts cup and plate competitions at Crouchley Lane.
It was a cold Sunday morning with weather more akin to the beginning of march rather than the end of April but the pitch was in great condition and it certainly suited an open game.
The initial phases were spent with both packs sizing each other up and little cohesion in play from either side. Sandbach enjoyed some solid possession and broke through the defensive gain line on a couple of occasions in the opening exchanges.
However, it was the home side that went into the lead following a period of pressure by Sandbach on the Lymm line. The ball was cleared up field and play brought down close to the Sandbach line where they turned the ball over in a ruck. Unfortunately though the clearance kick was charged down and Gray reacted quickest and fell on the ball over the line to score. Simpson hit the extras as Lymm took a 7-0 lead.
Sandbach came back on the attack and pour ruck clear out gave them the opportunity to turn the ball over. No advantage was gained so they opted for a goal kick which drifted just wide of the upright and a let off for Lymm but the ball was knocked on over the line giving Sandbach an attacking scrum 5 meters from our line. A solid feed gave them good ball but a wayward pass saw the ball bounce into touch for a defending lineout. From the lineout the Lymm backs spread the ball wide for Senior to run the length of the pitch and score under the posts. Simonson converted to stretch the lead out to 14-0 against the run of play.
We have proven time and again this season that when we spread the ball wide we are lethal yet we still take the wrong options so often, stepping back into contact and spilling ball and conceding field position. One such incident gave Sandbach a penalty for holding on which they converted.
This kicked us into action again and from a midfield scrum, following a knock on, a simple loop move creating the extra man was finished off by Senior bringing the score to 19-3 at the half time whistle.
The start of the second half saw Sandbach again go on the attack with several pick and drive moves ending in a try for Bishop. The conversion went just wide but Sandbach were now back in the game at 19-8.
The home side then had their best period of the game, controlling the ball, breaking the gain line and driving purposefully up field. Eventually the play broke down near the Sandbach 22 and they managed to hack the ball down field. Another series of short pick and drives saw them crash over near the posts for a converted score and peg Lymm back to 19-5 and a 4-point ball game.
From kick off the ball was gathered superbly by McCauley who sent Yates through a gap. We went left and then back right where Ratcliffe crashed through to scramble over the line and push us out to 24-15.
Again we gathered the ball from the kick off and worked our way into the heart of the Sandbach defence where Simpson went through a gap and popped the ball to the supporting Ratcliffe who crashed over for his second. Simpson added the extra points to seemingly put the game beyond doubt at 31-15 with only minutes to go.
Sandbach, however, had the final say and deservedly so as they turned ball over again and aided by a number of penalties, crashed over in the corner.
That was the final act of the game and a thoroughly entertaining game finished with Lymm becoming Cheshire Cup Champions 31-20.
Senior x 2
Ratcliffe x 2
Simpson x 3