Sandal 29, Wirral 12

WITH a much changed side Wirral made the long journey to play fifth-placed Sandal in an attempt to repeat last year's victory.

Playing against the wind and the slope in heavy conditions in the first half, Wirral managed to hold the home side to a 10-0 lead at half time.

The scoring came from a 4th minute penalty by Luke Ponton and a well constructed try by the second rower, Austen Thompson from 25m out.

It was to Wirral's credit that their defence kept Sandal at bay after they had pressure on the Wirral line and missed two kickable penalties.

At the start of the second half, Wirral scored their first try when from 20m out they walked the Sandal pack over their own line for Rob Pearl to touch down.

This comeback was short-lived as a good passing movement by the home side enabled Chris Jackson to score in the corner and this was quickly followed up by a superb break by the scrum half Andy Miller from 45m out as he beat the initial cover and sped in to score under the posts to extend the Sandal lead to 22-5.

In the final minutes there were hopes that Wirral were to possibly achieve another losing bonus point when they again pushed the Sandal pack over the whitewash for Rob Pearl to touch down for his second try and the conversion came from Sam Broadbent to reduce the deficit to 22-12.

Wirral continued to apply pressure but to no avail as a final flurry from Sandal enabled Chris Jackson to score his second try and the all important try bonus point to leave the score 29-12- a score line which flattered the home side.

In the last quarter of the game, Wirral full-back, Chris Crowley was injured which necessitated a visit to the local hospital and at the time of writing this report, I am not fully aware of his condition.