Sandal pipped to the spoils by no-nonsense Pocklington

Michael Coopey is upended by the Pockington defence, which resulted in a yellow card for the visiting offender.
Michael Coopey is upended by the Pockington defence, which resulted in a yellow card for the visiting offender.

Physical Pocklington avenged a home defeat by Sandal with a 31-20 victory at Milnthorpe Green last Saturday.

Going into the contest, many home supporters felt Sandal would win – and quite comfortably, especially after playing so well in freezing conditions for victory in the first fixture.

To Pocklington’s credit, they showed great desire and were probably, on balance, worth the win. Sandal did try to punch a hole through a physical Pocklington blockade, but just couldn’t make that vital break.

Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.

Credit to Will Morecombe who, in the first half, tried to introduce pace into the game by taking quick tap penalties to get Pocklington facing their own line.

And also to Greg Wood who challenged the defence constantly and used his acceleration to get in behind Pocklington on occasion too.

Sandal’s first try came from Tom Baxter, who latched onto the driving lineout maul from 10 metres out to score a good ‘forwards try’. James Stewart scored Sandal’s second. He identified a mismatch in midfield and used his speed to wrong-foot the defender to score between the posts.

Wood landed both conversions and kept the scoreboard ticking over with two more penalties.

It was a brutal encounter, however, with Pocklington seeing two players yellow-carded in the first half. One was in the wrong place at the wrong time and committed the offence after the team had been warned by the ref’ about conceding penalties at the breakdown.

The second was awarded after a tackle where Michael Coopey was lifted, turned and brought down on his shoulder.

In the second half, Jack Townend took a blow to the head in the tackle and played no further part, Greg Wood left to have running repairs to a head wound, Nick Carolan took some time on the bench after receiving a heavy tackle and Jimmy Stewart took a blow to the lower back which meant he had to be withdrawn from the game.

At 20-19 in front with 15 minutes to go, Sandal looked capable of holding out, but Pocklington had their tails up and their full-back scored the pick of their tries with a lovely late run to cut Sandal’s defensive line.

So two matches left, starting next Saturday with a trip to the champions, Preston Grasshoppers, before returning home to Milnthorpe Green the following weekend to bid farewell to the season against Birkenhead Park.