5:27pm Thursday 29th March 2012
Anselmians 13 Sandbach 19
SANDBACH were crowned champions of North One West and succeeded in being promoted to the fifth tier of RFU’s national league with a hard-fought win over third from bottom Anselmians.
It may not have been a classic spectacle for the neutral but the result meant that Sandbach's impressive 18-point lead at the top of the table with three games remaining was more than enough to secure their status as runaway champions and start the champagne flowing.
A trip to sixth-place Rochdale awaits on Saturday, and Sandbach will have to keep their good form with them in order to try and maintain their emphatic lead at the head of the table.
The Sandbach players had obviously allowed the occasion to get the better of them in the build-up, with a poor start from the visitors allowing the relegation-fighting hosts to peg them back in their own half during the opening stages.
A breakthrough on 20 minutes following some superb backline exchanges meant that Jack Leech raced away to score the opening try, and though Ben Elliot missed the conversion the visitors were confident.
That confidence was misplaced, with a long-range penalty and a try following a Sandbach sin-bin allowing the hosts to gain the upper hand as half time approached.
The second half was a tense affair, with both sides using long kicks to try and gain some positional advantage.
The deadlock was broken by a huge Elliot drop-goal from nearly the half way line, followed immediately by mason and Elliot exchanging penalties as the clock ran down.
With club captain Stockdale on as a reinforcement, Sandbach began to build possession and another Elliot penalty put them in striking distance.
With minutes remaining they conjured the decisive move, a blind side switch from a 20-metre scrum that allowed Cargill to slip the ball to Leech, who rarely misses from 10 metres.
Elliot missed the goal, but Sandbach held on to cue scenes of celebration on the pitch at the full time whistle.
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