Last-gasp try denies Sandal RUFC victory after they let 14-point lead slip

Austen Thompson opened the scoring for Sandal against Rossendale.Austen Thompson opened the scoring for Sandal against Rossendale.
Austen Thompson opened the scoring for Sandal against Rossendale.
Sandal’s return game with Rossendale followed a similar pattern to that played at home in December with Sandal taking an early lead into the interval.

But in this North Premier game the visitors played well to ensure the final outcome was a creditable 17-17 draw and not a defeat as before, writes Howard Newton.

In fact, the final score might be considered disappointing in that Rossendale were only able to draw level in stoppage time at the end of the game and Sandal had opened up a 14-point lead in the opening half.

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Sandal’s selected side contained several players making their first team debut, but the whole team attacked and defended extremely well against a strong lively Rossendale outfit.

It was a performance, however, marred by the many penalties given away.

In the first half Sandal had the advantage of the slope and a strongish breeze and were soon awarded a penalty, which they chose to kick to touch.

From the ensuing line-out on the visitors’ five-metre line Austen Thompson was pushed over the whitewash to score and with Joe Bedford adding the extras Sandal had taken a 7-0 lead as early as the third minute.

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Three Rossendale penalties then followed, but with play on the half-way line in the 12th minute Ryan Gibson gathered the ball and made an extraordinary dash for the line to score a solo try in the corner. Bedford then matched that effort by slotting over the conversion from wide out to take his side’s lead to 14-0.

The visitors were flying and the home crowd went quiet, but Dale replied positively with their own try six minutes later to make it 14-5 at half-time.

From the resumption more of the same occurred without scores, but Sandal did fail to convert one penalty attempt.

Several home side scoring chances were snuffed out throughout the third quarter as a result of the visitors’ strength in defence.

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Unfortunately for Sandal in the 67th minute they lost the ball in a tackle, enabling a home winger to collect, run in and touch down in the corner.

The conversion was missed which meant that Sandal still held the lead at 14-10.

Three minutes later Bedford converted a penalty kick to give his side a comforting cushion of a seven-point lead.

With 10 minutes left tensions in both camps were growing and Sandal were looking to hold out for victory. They looked like achieving their aim only for the last move of the game to bring joy for Rossendale.

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In stoppage time from a Rossendale scrum a move was produced which failed to be defended and a converted try was registered to take the final score to a 17-17 draw, which many felt to be a fair result.

Sandal now play their final home game of the season this Saturday when they host Wirral, who stand one place above them in the North Premier table. Kick-off is 3pm.

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