NORTHWICH, beaten 60-0 in last season's corresponding fixture, saw victory snatched from them by a superb late try on Saturday.
They were 13-6 in front and pressing to increase their advantage when home centre Tim Jones set off from deep within his own half to score and Lee Pickles' conversion levelled the points.
Still buoyed from last week's derby victory against Winnington, Northwich were at virtual full strength and included 6ft 6in new second row signing Darren Leggett, who has moved into the area from Stockport. He was impressive, especially in the line-out.
Chris Dale kicked the first points from an early penalty after a bright opening, but things started to go awry after winger Steve Galbraith retired with a twisted knee, which brought Leggett into action after only 10 minutes.
Dale kicked another long range penalty when Sandbach were caught offside, Northwich had gone off the boil and Lee Pickles put Sandbach back into the game with a penalty of his own.
On the half-hour there was a massive fracas from which player coach Chris Chudleigh, Gez Gough and Sandbach forward Andy lee were sent to the sin bin and the home side rallied. Pickles kicked another three points when North-wich were caught offside and the visitors were thrown into disarray
when Dale joined his teammates in the sin bin and scrum half Gaz Davies withdrew through injury.
Gary Evans came on as sub but events meant that four Northwich players were playing out of their normal positions. They held on until half time and despite resuming with 12 players went into an unexpected lead. Second row forward Chris Heywood, now on the wing, caught a high kick and cut inside to set off Steve Campbell for a superb individual try. Campbell converted his try and Northwich looked in control when the binned players returned to the pitch.
They went up a gear and were desperate to make certain of victory when Jones and Pickles struck to tie a thrilling encounter.
South Africans Vuyo Pasiya, a Durban hooker, 22, and flanker Fungile Teyise, 23 from Port Elizabeth, starred in the 2nd XV's routing of Macclesfield 4th XV at Moss Farm. Northwich won 58-20 with tries coming from Ollie Watts (2), Chris Heptinstall (2), Andy Chubb (2), Danny Rawling, Kirk Arundull, Donny Phillips and Pasiya. Brett Stanley kicked four conversions.
Northwich 3rds lost to Sandbach 16-3 (Joel Baker pen).
Junior results versus Wilmslow: Northwich U16s lost 22-5 (Ben Stott try); U12s drew 14-14 (Sam Jones, Henry Bellis tries; Sam Hunt 2 cons); U10s lost 7-0. nUnder 16s back Richard dale, brother of first teamer Chris, was the only local player in the Cheshire team that faced Lancashire at Preston at the weekend. Hartford High pupil Richard was picked at full back.