A great start to 15/16 for Eccles U15s against a powerful Rochdale side

Rochdale RUFC arrived at Eccles on a warm but overcast Autumn day, no doubt expecting a tough game but maybe also anticipating yet another win over our lads. Eccles fielded a strong squad of 19 players with the addition of Harry C and Cameron B to the squad that lost 37 – 5 during December 2014, showing a fantastic level of stability and player attraction that has been generated and sustained over the last couple of seasons. Hats off to the players and coaching staff for developing & fostering an attitude to rugby that will be the envy of many of our competitors.

With the more senior teams playing away we had the opportunity to play on the 1st team pitch and the lads were desperate to prove that they were worthy of the honour – is it ‘winner stays on’ on this pitch?

Rochdale got the game under way with a kick which Joe R collected in the old bread basket and hopefully for the final time, treated us to his trademark left to right Forrest Gump run as the Eccles parents & coaches shouted “forwards Joe, forwards” (ruuun Forrest, ruuuun).

Rochdale looked strong and had much of the early possession deep inside the Eccles half as the Eccles starting 15 rolled over, yawned and hit the snooze button one more time. Within 10 minutes Eccles were given the wake up call as Rochdale forced their way over the Eccles try line only to be thwarted by the steadfast work of the Eccles defence who ensured that the ball wasn’t grounded.

Eccles clear their lines (and their heads) with a kick from behind the try line but it’s a comfortable take for the Rochdale Full Back who looks to continue the attack however Max R has other thoughts on the matter as he sprints the 20m from his own try line and puts in a ferocious ‘Tonoyan’ on the stranded Rochdale player, forcing him in to touch. This tackle from Max R would be the 1st of many put in by the Eccles winger which would be recognised by his team mates and coaches at the close of the game.

The scoring was eventually opened by Rochdale following a scrum under the Eccles posts. A good move from our visitors saw the ball passed wide and over the try line but the Eccles forwards will be disappointed at how easily Rochdale secured possession from the scrum. Unfortunately for Rochdale the conversion was just too difficult despite a good effort from the kicker

0 – 5

Eccles restart but Rochdale break and put more pressure on the Eccles defence until the ball is won by Albert T before being hoofed clear by Joe R. Eccles chase the ball down and for the first time in the game, drive Rochdale deep onto their own half. The pressure began to show as Rochdale conceded a series of penalties and eventually commit what looked like a Dump Tackle of Dan A. From the resulting penalty Eccles break and pass the ball superbly across their line until Matt W steps first inside his man and then races outside and towards the corner with Rob S in support. Matt W times the release of the ball expertly as the Rochdale Centre closes him down and Rob S is away, tearing down the wing and then along the try line to score under the posts leaving Matt W with the simplest of conversions to put Eccles in to the lead.

7 – 5

Eccles are on the up as Rochdale restart with Joe R collecting the kick and releasing David S who crashes forward and through a number of tackles before being brought to a halt by three Rochdale tacklers. The ball is knocked on by Eccles and play is brought to a halt allowing the injured warrior Alex T to be replaced by Matt L. A scrum is awarded to Rochdale who drive Eccles back and break on the Blindside leaving the Eccles lads looking at one another. A try looks certain but Rob S shows his commitment to defence by chasing the man down and making a fantastic try saving tackle.

Rochdale force Eccles back to their try line and win a line out. A cheeky short throw from the line out is spotted by Josh G who wraps the man up like a chicken burrito from los pollos hermanos before driving him into touch bringing the half to a close with Eccles holding on to a well deserved 7 – 5 lead.

What a great 1st half of rugby we were treated to; both sides showed great ability, strength and competitive aggression with Eccles just edging it curtesy of Matt W’s conversion.

Half Time 7 – 5

At the start of the second half Coach Kevin introduced Brad P, Cameron B, Dan G and Alex T who had gone off injured in the 1st half for Rob S, Dan A, Oliver W and Jack W. Now that is a decent bench!!!

Eccles get the 2nd half started and immediately force Rochdale back towards their own 22. Cameron B makes a fine tackle and the ball pops out of the grip of the Rochdale player, the loose ball is seized upon by Alex H who drives forward setting up a maul before releasing the ball through Alex T and on to Matt W who breaks right and feeds the ball to Cameron B who surges forward like a freight train, holding off numerous Rochdale tacklers before placing the ball down for a superb second try of the game for Eccles but leaving a difficult kick for the extra two points. Matt W places the ball on the tee, takes a couple of steps back and in a style reminiscent of Nemani Nadolo, strokes the ball between the posts to extend the Eccles lead.

14 – 5

Eccles were clearly buoyed by their efforts and may have still been celebrating when Rochdale restarted as Eccles committed a number of infringements which led to penalties as Rochdale tried to get a hold of the game that seemed to be slipping from their grasp. Hope was given to Rochdale when another of their fine passing moves saw them over the line beneath the posts to score a try & conversion to close the gap back down to two points.

14 – 12

From the Eccles restart Rochdale are again on the attack and through the Eccles lines but another fine tackle from Matt W stops Rochdale retaking the lead.

Rochdale are looking strong and are showing confidence in their play following their recent try and Eccles need to show the kind of form that saw them end last season so well.

Rochdale drive at the Eccles lines but Brad P makes the tackle, the ball is still with Rochdale as they push forward but Brad P makes a second tackle and the ball is now loose; Rochdale retrieve the ball and again break at the Eccles lines as Brad P shows immense tenacity and yet again makes the tackle, forcing the error from the Rochdale Centre.

Eccles start to dominate again and are forcing Rochdale back towards their try line. Alex H takes control of the ball from an Eccles penalty and crashes through the Rochdale lines before being felled like a giant redwood. The ball is loose and Rob S is first to react, kicking the ball forwards and chasing it down to score his second try of the game and leaving Matt a straightforward conversion to restore the Eccles 9 point advantage

21 – 12

Rochdale got the game restarted but could make no inroads towards closing the gap and the game  finished with a hard fought but well deserved victory for Eccles

Full Time 21 -12

Today saw a great performance from Eccles U15s which ultimately led to a well deserved victory at home to a Rochdale side that in the past have never come remotely close to losing against us.

To put the game in to perspective, over the last two seasons the cumulative score is Rochdale 148 to Eccles 13 points (73 – 0, 37 – 5 & 38 – 8).

I always look forward to our fixtures against Rochdale; they are a strong and competitive side with a coach who clearly knows his game. They play rugby in the right way!

Eccles U15’s Vital Statistics

Todays Eccles Squad

Daniel A, Cameron B, Harry C, Chea C, Dan G, Joshua G, Alex H, Matthew L, Brad P, Joe R, Max R, David S, Rob S, Alex T, Albert T, Matthew W (Capt), Jack W, James W, Oliver W

Half Time Score 7-5

Full Time Score 21-12

Eccles Men of the Match

Players Choice – Max R

Coach Choice – Max R

Parents Choice – Joe R

Try Scorers – Rob S x 2, & Cameron B

Conversions – Matthew W 3 from 3

Notable Mentions

Coach James for refereeing the game despite carrying a Luke Shaw style injury

Semaphore Brom for running the line

Cameron B, Harry C & Dan G all had great games today, welcome back to Eccles

Matt W – 3 from 3 conversions, one of which was extremely difficult

Max R received a double MoM award from the coaches and players for his outstanding contributions to the game, not least his commitment and tremendous tackling

Joe R pipped Max R to the parents MoM as he showed great speed of thought and decision making throughout the game. However, like Elvis, this has unfortunately now left the building

Naughty Step

Everyone (including me) for not giving Coach Kevin a hand with the flags at the start of the game

That big pot-hole car park, I nearly went ‘ruck over mauls’ walking back to my car

Happy for stealing Martins bacon & egg on toast

Happy for curling one out on the carpet