For the 1st time all season the coaching staff had options, as even with absences and injuries Eccles had a squad of 16 to choose from; but this was always going to be a tough fixture for Eccles and so it proved to be. Ashton had brought a fast and physically powerful 15 plus subs. Eccles had prepared well during the week and Coaches Kevin & James had worked long and hard with the lads on key aspects of the game that would be brought to todays fixture.
During the final minute of the match Eccles showed some true class with tenacious tacking from the backs and our forwards digging deep into their energy reserves to force Ashton further and further back in to their own half. Ashton turned the ball over and against the (very very recent) run of play, broke down the Eccles right flank at pace. A try looked inevitable but for the ferocious tackling by both the undisputed Man of the Match Albert ‘you’re tackled’ Tonoyan and Joe Rapinett which broke up the Ashton attack, forcing the ball out of play and bringing the match to a close.
Prior to this, the day was proved to be very frustrating for Coach Kevin and Coach James. Much of the hard work put in during recent training sessions seemed to have been forgotten by the Eccles lads as Ashton got the 1st half started and scored a couple of quick tries within the first 10 minutes.
“PICK THE BALL UP!!” (there was no blood on the ball and so I’ve edited Coach Kevin’s plea to the boys here)
For most of the 1st half Eccles were on the defensive with great tacking initially from Lewis Angus and Jack (the blue) Williams and then from Joe Rapinett & Brad Palmer preventing Ashton from going over for a third try. But the constant pressure put on the Eccles defence eventually paid off for the visitors with them scoring a 3rd try within the 1st 15 minutes.
“PICK THE BALL UP!!”
Lewis who had played well for the team in his defensive duties came off and after a vigorous warm up of shoulder rolls and ankle shakes, Robert Strickland joined the field for his Eccles debut.
Eccles got the game restarted and Robert seemed determined to demonstrate he had a bit of pace by giving the ball a 20m start and almost arriving at the Ashton defence as the ball was collected by their back row.
“PICK THE BALL UP!!”
A 4th try for the visitors brought the half to a close with the score at 0 – 24 (4 tries + 2 conversions)
The half time team talk from Coaches Kevin & James clearly blew some cobwebs from the boys ears as they started the second half on the up and immediately put pressure on the Ashton defence.
Eccles had Ashton on the backfoot and a powerful play from the Eccles pack drove Ashton within 10 metres of their own try line but an injury to Matthew Walker saw play temporarily suspended and Lewis reintroduced to the field of play.
A quick reshuffle of the pack to accommodate the now missing Matthew seemed to catch the Eccles lads napping and Ashton broke through the middle of the Eccles front row and raced towards the Eccles 22. Eccles regrouped and showed great determination to keep Ashton at bay with strong tackles from the flying Wright Brothers (James & Oliver) and Alex Thornton. Ashton’s powerful forward play led to another try beneath the posts but not before Joshua Green who had been at the heart of most of the better aspects of Eccles play took a knock from a loose elbow, unintentional and unsighted to the referee, this left the path clear for the Ashton player to cross the line and score.
Although behind in the game, Eccles were forcing Ashton in to a number of handling errors but were failing to capitalise on the possession once the ball had been won. A high tackle from Joe gave Ashton possession inside the Eccles 22 and an opportunity to drive at the Eccles try line but the ball was turned over in the ruck by the Eccles defence and Alex Thornton picked the ball up and showed his strength to drive the ball towards the half way line.
At some point here Ashton scored & converted again but I seemed to have missed it – sorry!
This game was proving to be a real physical challenge for Eccles and with no substitutes to call upon and 10 minutes to play, both Josh and Albert were asked if they felt fit to carry on. Josh had taken a heavy blow and Albert was clearly in some discomfort having put his body on the line numerous times for the team during the game. Needless to say both carried on!
The final try of the game was scored by Ashton after they turned over a scrum in their own half. The Eccles defence should have been stronger and more resilient but it was a great run from the Ashton player who broke through our forwards and scampered past our backs to score.
With 7 minutes left to play and Coach Kevin asks the boys to play for their badge, their colours and their pride. It was a solid closing 7 minutes from Eccles with the rugby in the final minute of the match being some of the best they have played all season.
The game finished with Ashton runaway winners 0 – 43
The question now is, in the absence of Captain Matthew Walker, who from this group of 18 or so lads is going to step up to the plate and be our leader in our next fixture.
All the players work hard in training and we need all that hard work to be delivered on match days. We play Bury on our own turf next week; a team that we have already beaten in a seven’s tournament over the summer. Lets beat them at 15s now.
COME ON ECCLES!
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad
Lewis Angus, Daniel Aspinall, Joshua Green, Alex Hardman, Elliott Hemming, Brad Palmer, Joe Rapinett, Max Riley, David Smith, Robert Strickland, Alex Thornton, Albert Tonoyan, Matthew Walker, Jack Williams, James Wright, Oliver Wright
Half Time Score 0-24
Full Time Score 0-43
Eccles Man of the Match
Players Choice – Albert
Coach Choice – Albert
Parents Choice – Albert
Thats a clean sweep for Albert – very well done
Notable Mention – Robert for a solid debut from the bench
Joe Rapinett – High Tackle
Everyone except Albert for allowing the Man of the Match to be a clean sweep.
Match reporter for missing an Ashton converted try