KNUTSFORD’S three-match winning run was ended 39-27 by a strong Sandbach thirds.

There was some bitter disappointment for the home team, as on another day they felt their opponents were beatable and Knutsford will look forward to the away fixture in the third week of March.

Knutsford started strongly and got into their rhythm straight from the off but the visitors took the lead.

As Knutsford tired in these phases, gaps opened up and penalties for offside crept in and Sandbach were able to score a couple of tries

A Sandbach high tackle presented an opportunity for three points from the resulting penalty and Alex Malcolm converted.

Stand-in captain Jim Southall steadied the ship with some commanding words and his break through the line allowed Knutsford to build a strong position in the Sandbach half.

A steady scrum was the platform for Knutsford’s first try though, stand in scrum-half Nick Webb finding Cook at 10 who hit Malcolm on a hard line through the middle and he rode two tacklers to cross and convert.

The to and froing continued, Sandbach working the pitch to their advantage and the well-drilled side stretched Knutsford with confident kicking positions, going over in the corner to strengthen their lead and then scoring again after a poor Knutsford lost lineout caused undue pressure which led to a handling error and Sandbach could run in to score.

Again Knutsford persisted though, scoring three more tries.

Malcolm went over again after a deceptive backs move cut open the Sandbach defensive line and he finished in the corner strongly.

Cameron Smyth finished a well-worked move from the wing after strong forward play from Kyle Blake and Howard Dunkerley allowed Cook to find Smith out wide who angled his run superbly and no-one was stopping him scoring.

Further sustained Knutsford pressure with ferocious ball carrying from Giles Robertson saw them positioned 10 metres out.

Sandbach were good at letting Knutsford retain possession and guard the fringes of the breakdown which made it difficult to break them down but did mean Knutsford had more ball.

Nick Webb was tied up in a previous ruck so Robertson, using his initiative, found Cook at 10 with an inch perfect pass from the breakdown, allowing Cook to burst through the gap to score.

The same pattern followed into the second half with Sandbach always just having the edge.

Jack Field was sin-binned for a series of errors according to the referee.

Knutsford miss-handled and the ball was stolen, allowing Sandbach to go up the other end and score.

Knutsford fell short with a disallowed try, though Liam Boyle felt he had grounded the ball.