Sandal RUFC narrowly misses morale-boosting victory in York after late play-off

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Sandal came so close to beating York in their return match at Clifton Park.

Although the team gave a good image of themselves and put pressure on late, they failed, losing 17-13, writes Howard Newton.

It was a much improved performance from the previous encounter at home to York when Sandal lost 20-52.

The only similarity to this game was the size and power of York’s pack, which was more than a game for the visitors in the scrums, with the unit being pushed back almost every time.

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But Sandal’s level of defensive work was admirable and was a big part of keeping the opposition on three tries, earning a losing bonus point that could prove vital at the end of the season.

In the first half, Sandal played with a strong breeze at their back, but York quickly made their intentions clear by putting the visitors’ defense under pressure. However, it took them a while for their possession to count.

Scott MacGregor took the lead to create an encouraging attacking move that came to nothing only to find Sandal defending in his 22. From that position, York opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a pushing try and conversion .

The game then had its ups and downs, but on the half hour Jake Adams managed to convert a penalty to close the points gap to 7-3.

Sandal was down to 14 men for 10 minutes when a player was shown the yellow card for a head-high tackle, but the side continued to hold on and earned a second penalty from Adams at half-time to be only 7-6 at the break. They were really in the game.

Unfortunately, the second half didn’t start well for them as York kicked to touch after receiving a penalty and from the resulting lineout their scrum-half took a break . The ball then passed through several pairs of hands before their winger scored easily for a corner. The conversion was missed, but the score went to 12-6.

Almost as soon as a clumsy rebound resumed, a York striker took the ball on the flurry and left the visitors’ defense in disarray, giving him the opportunity to hit the ground for a solo try after recovering the ball on the center line.

Again, the conversion didn’t happen, but the hosts’ lead had increased to 17-6 after 44 minutes.

After that disappointing start, Sandal attacked York’s line and after fending off a penalty past the posts, another attack was set up which ended in a penalty try being awarded for a deliberate knock-on, carrying the score at 17-13.

York weren’t finished and an attacking move looked like giving them another sure try, but Danny Grainger ran across the pitch to unceremoniously put the potential goalscorer in contact.

Sandal recovered and moved into York’s half again where an abandoned finishing pass spoiled a scoring chance. The final minutes saw them hammering the York line, but to no avail.

While a victory once again eluded Sandal’s side, their play showed more signs of possible success in the weeks to come. This Saturday they face a tough task against fourth-placed Billingham.

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