Another slow start on home turf punishes Colts.


Despite the ambition to achieve a focused, fast-paced start played in the opposition half, the Colts began the game in a lethargic fashion. Late commitment, delayed arrivals, injuries during warm up and pitch set up disruption all contributed to fairly shambolic pre-match preparations.  The languid approach continued after the whistle with Whitchurch governing possession and territory. When Eccles did see the ball it was squandered with poor handling and slow support.

The visitors opening scoring with a penalty kick on 15 mins. 5 minutes later they added a converted try, with their dynamic fullback making the most of the sluggish Eccles make-shift backline. Three more tries for Whitchurch followed in swift succession without reply – two directly from restart kicks, the opposition number 15 featuring again. The forwards were unrelenting with their collective efforts in the set piece and tackling, but this was the only positive in what was a thoroughly dismal first half, played almost entirely in the Eccles half.  One way. HT 0-29.

Within 3 mins of the restart, another kick and chase from the Whitchurch Fullback into a hesitant defence resulted in a try in the corner.  0-36.  Whether it was the embarrassment of this score, or the referee’s enquiry if Eccles would like to stop at 0-50, but the Colts eventually sparked into a determined response.

For the remaining 30 minutes of the match, Eccles played the game in the opposition half, hunting and tackling with commitment, dominating possession, moving the ball with purpose and attacking with threat.  All the things we didn’t do in the first half.  On 45 minutes, Mike Shaw burst through the defensive line and offloaded to fellow centre Louis Ayre to drive to the line and score. 2nd Row Edward Mather stepped up to strike the conversation. 7-36.

The change in fortune ended there. Scrum-half Josh Waring suffered a boot to the head and was substituted for injured Zak Brooker.  Flanker Matt Small almost broke through the centre but his pass was intercepted; Edward made a terrific evasive breakout but was tackled short of the line; Cameron Higginbottom (C) and Kyle Dowarka were stopped short between the posts. A lot of pressure exerted, but sadly no points.  The forwards continued their dominance in a high number of scrums: Props John Nicolson, Chris Thomas and Hooker Finlay Cox made big contributions; Cami dished out some big ball carries, Edward was outstanding with his all round work in the line out and attack; the back row were tenacious and tireless, but otherwise there were few other highlights from this disappointing performance. Like the weather, we got better as the afternoon went on. We proved we could play in the second half but by the time we began to do so, it was far too late to have any influence on the result. FT 7-36.

Our sincere thanks to Whitchurch who made a 100-mile round trip to give us a game and were gracious in their victory.

Eccles Colts next fixture is Home vs Wilmslow, Sunday 27th November, KO 2pm.

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