Derby made 2 changes of personnel in the starting XV, with Charlie Barker moving up from replacement and Josh Tizard playing for the first time this season. Callum Jones made his debut from the bench.
The game was preceded by a minutes silence in tribute to Tony Bell.
Sandbach kicked off, with Derby looking to improve on last week’s performance.
They were soon into their stride, with a George Castledine break putting them on the front foot. Derby were unable to turn the territory into points however.
It was Sandbach who took the lead, after 10 minutes, when Elliot kicked a penalty.
Derby hit back almost immediately and embarked on a spell of pressure, keeping the ball through multiple phases. They gained a penalty and Josh Tizard tapped quickly and drove close to the line. The ball was kept alive until it found Josh Tizard again and he forced his way over. George Castledine converted.
After 16 minutes, Sandbach narrowed the gap with another Elliot penalty.
3 minutes later and a calamity for Derby; Derby were again pressing, but Sandbach’s speedy winger, Morris, picked off a pass and sprinted clear to score and give Sandbach the lead.
Derby kept pressing and nearly scored 8 minutes before the break when Josh Pearson was held up over the line.
Derby regained the lead with the last play of the half. Ryan Manning made a slicing break and found Ben Marsden. He showed great strength to force his way to the line and ground the ball.
Half time saw Derby 12 – 11 ahead. Sandbach had caused the Derby pack all sorts of problems and that was causing concern among the Derby faithful during the interval.
The 2nd half turned into a tight, cagy affair, with Derby having most off the ball, but Sandbach causing concern with forays into Derby’s half.
After 51 minutes, Derby kicked a penalty to the corner. The line out was won, but excellent defence from Sandbach forced the turn over.
Winger Ryan Manning was sent to the sin bin after 60 minutes for collapsing a maul. Sandbach had a number of scrum opportunities, but were unable to make them count, as excellent Derby defence, led by man of the match Luke Willmott, kept them at bay.
With the last 10 minutes played in driving rain, it could not have been tenser, but when the referee gave the nod the time was up, George Castledine kicked the ball dead and the game was won.
Amazingly not a point was scored in the 2nd half, but Derby will not care one jot as they celebrate their first victory of the season ! This was a good team performance, against a strong Sandbach side, as Derby dominated possession, particularly in the 2nd half.
Next week sees another tough game as Derby travel to Scunthorpe.
Come on Derby !
Match Report by Richard Bambra