Old Hales Triumph in Cheshire

Sandbach 15 - 32 Halesonians

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2016 07:18pm
Hagley, Bromsgrove
By Mark Jackson
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Saturday's visit to Sandbach followed a postponed home game the previous week after a dent in Old Hales play off challenge the week before with a loss at Old Northamptonians.

The trip to Cheshire with loyal supporters needed to see Hales back on track if they were to stay in contention. With many casualties from the last game, changes included Hales 18's and Worcester College youngster Jamie Keen in at scrum half in place of Dave Hadkiss, playing at fly half. Also returning from injury was hooker Peter Fitzgerald who was in for the injured Sam Jones.Hales were also without line out specialist Tom King, prop Louis Padian, fly half Oli Rayner and kicking fullback Chris Hooper. Nevertheless Hales pulled in replacements including Steve Leach and Owen Jones  on the bench with 2nd team prop and captain Rob Butler with Andy Holloway selected at full back.
Sandbach were no doubt looking for a scalp having won the home game last season and only narrowly missing out at Wassell Grove earlier this season.Perfect playing conditions saw Hales immediately on the attack, driving into the home side like men possessed with crunching tackles and a show of intent. 
The home side were, as usual, excellent at running from everywhere with a young fit team so Hales had to dominate in the tight and forward play. On 6 minutes a scrum was awarded to Hales on the halfway line. This led to 22 phases of combined team rugby with the ball taken over by Flanker Tom Jordan for the first try of the day, converted by Hadkiss 0 - 7.
Further pressure from the kick off saw Hales awarded a penalty which Hadkiss slotted to lead 0- 10.  The rest of the first half saw Hales in the ascendancy however a combination of needless penalties and good defence from the home team limited the score. The visitors were playing against the wind and slope and could not convert the pressure into points.
A yellow card for Prop Matt Young reduced Hales to 14 which gave Sandbach the advantage in the final 10 minutes of the half. They played some brilliant open rugby but the Hales defence stood strong with Jordan, Loz Breese and skipper Rich Taylor putting in telling tackles. 
However, the significant defending came from the Hales centres Carl Robinson and Ben Barkley who both had enormous defensive and attacking games.  Sandbach came back and won a penalty which succeeded giving a half time score of 3 - 10.
The half time chat by Coach Ben Hughes gave focus. With Rob Butler replacing the sin binned Young, and injured Tom Jordan being replaced by the returning Owen Jones, there was little respite for the home side from the first minute of the second half. 
Sandbach were under constant pressure from Hales' strong rucking and mauling. A scrum on the home 22 was dominated by Butler, Fitzgerald and Taylor in the Hales front row. On 50 minutes Sandbach collapsed a scrum under pressure with the ref awarding a penalty try, converted by Hadkiss  to lead 3 -17. It seemed at this point that the smooth combination of quick passing from Keen and Hadkiss was proving too much for the home side. On 65 minutes a brilliant combination of passes from Keen and Hadkiss found full back Holloway just inside the Sandbach half. He took the ball on and slid through flailing hands to take the ball over for the third try, converted by Hadkiss 3 - 24.
Further ground made by Hales from the kick off, slick hands and searing charging runs by back row Max Macfarlane made tens of yards. Sandbach infringed at a maul and were penalised, Hadkiss obliged to take the lead to 3 - 24. This should have been a walk over from here with the 4th bonus point try eagerly awaited, but Sandbach had other ideas. Their resolve saw them finally break through with some excellent running rugby and their first try of the day on 70 minutes 8 - 27.Four minutes later and more of the same cavalier running rugby produced a second try for the home side. converted 15 -27. There was a shudder in the Hales camp as they dig in again with Steve Leach coming on to add some fire power, he made his mark immediately. 
With only minutes remaining, the bonus point try seemed in doubt, a line out ten yards outside the home 22. Hooker Fitzgerald gathered from the maul, found some lungs from somewhere, and went on a marauding run into the opposition. He was held up short of the line, the Hales pack supported, Owen Jones picked up and dived over for a try. Hadkiss narrowly missed the conversion on the final whistle for a well deserved win 15 -32
Assistant Team Manager Simon Hussey said after the game, "We deserved the win and with all the changes in the team we did ourselves proud. Jamie Keen, one of our up and coming stars, combined with Dave Hadkiss to give us a perfect combination and platform. We need to regain the rest of our killer instinct when we meet our current play off rivals Scunthorpe at home on Saturday" (kick off 2.15)


Second Team:  Walsall 2nds  15 - 16 Old Halesonians 2nds


Old Hales dominated possession in the early stages of the game and after only 6 minutes Walsall were forced to give away a penalty close to their own line. Jake Shellis kicked the penalty for a 3-0 lead to Old Hales.

Walsall hit back with two penalties in quick succession confidently taken by their No.10 to make the score 6-3. 

As half time approached, Old Hales moved the ball quickly and full back Alex Herbert took the ball wide on the right, eluded two Walsall defenders and crossed the line to score an unconverted try to establish a 8-6 lead. However, Walsall weren’t done; shortly after the restart Old Hales infringed at a ruck and the Walsall No.10 once again confidently landed the penalty to make the half time score 9-8. 

Early in the second half Old Hales were punished once again for an infringement; the Walsall No.10 landed the penalty from 30 metres for a 12-8 lead.

Old Hales attacked with more vigour and from an attacking lineout 10 metres out they took the ball cleanly and set up a driving maul. Scrum half Chris Harris secured the ball at the back of the maul and as the maul crossed the try line Chris Harris dropped on the ball to score for a 13-12 lead. 

Walsall hit back with their fifth penalty of the game to re-take the lead: 15-13. 

With 6 minutes to go, Old Hales were on the attack and Walsall gave away a kickable penalty. Jake Shellis stepped up and landed a pressure kick to take the lead for the fourth time. 

The last 5 minutes were fraught as Walsall pushed up field, but Old Hales held strong to secure a 16-15 victory. 

Old Hales scorers:

Tries: Alex Herbert, Chris Harris

Penalties: Jake Shellis (2)


Third Team:  Chaddesley 1sts 55 - 14  Old Halesonians 3rds 


Old Hales scorers:

Tries: Dan Smith, Brad Cogzell

Conversions: Gaz Price (2)



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