There wasn’t much to choose between the two teams in the first half, with Sandal holding a lively and creative outfit, but in the second half the home side scored 19 points with just three in response for miss 26-8 winners, writes Howard Newton.
Moreover, Sandal’s cause was not helped by his indiscipline which resulted in the team receiving four yellow cards during the game.
Additionally, poor lineout drills and loss of possession through break downs added to the team’s less than positive performance in the second half.
Once again the visitors started slow giving Billingham a chance to climb back up the pack with two early penalties. Then, from a scrum well inside the Sandal, half the home backs attacked and a long pass to their unmarked left winger gave him an easy run to hit the corner. The conversion found its target via the amount that dropped Sandal seven points after just five minutes.
From then on the visitors managed to spend time in their opponents’ territory and at quarter time they spent several minutes attacking Billingham’s line but their defense was too good to allow a much needed score. .
As the match progressed, both teams attempted to gain supremacy through penalty kicks for field position. But it was Sandal who scored after a telling break from Luke Adams and a kick forward. Billingham collected but the return kick charged in to give Jonny Garrity the chance to chase down and land in the corner. The conversion was missed, but the gap had been reduced to two points as half-time approached.
As Sandal continued to attack in the home 22, no further scoring was possible, giving the home side a 7-5 lead at the break.
It took Sandal just three minutes into the second half for the lead to change hands with a well-taken penalty from Jake Adams putting them ahead 8-7.
But immediately after the restart, the home side opened up with an attacking break that culminated in a forward crash on a converted attempt to retake the lead at 14-8.
This was quickly followed in the 50th minute with Billingham adding to their lead with a converted try and the score was suddenly 21-8.
Although no further scores were scored by either team until stoppage time, Sandal endured an unprecedented period of play as he received three yellow cards, which forced the team to play a short man for 30 minutes.
They did well to hold their own under the circumstances, but with the full-time approach Billingham mounted a final zigzag assault down the visitors’ line from the halfway line which eventually ended in a crush to forward for a try for bonus points.
The conversion was bungled and Sandal retired to the locker room after another hard-fought game and once again had to accept a 26-8 loss to a more disciplined and creative side.
Sandal now faces a tough game this Saturday when they host a Burnage side who are third from bottom – one place and four points below them in the North Premier table. Kick-off is at 2:15 p.m.