Broughton Park v Leigh v Eccles – Match report 9th October 2016

For the second week running we had an away game, perfect weather and a squad of 12 to select from. The Eccles U10s made the short trip to Broughton Park for a three way with Leigh. Both BP and Leigh had numbers to field two teams and it was decided that three games each of 10 minutes would be played. The fixture list for Eccles was Leigh I followed by BP I and then BP II.

To even out time on the pitch, due to short game time (and to supposedly make it easy to make substitutions) two subs would be used in each game at the half way point.

After the warm up and some rucking drill, executed well, we took to the field for the first game.

Game 1. Leigh I

Squad: Ben, Charlie, Guy, Harry, Jack, Josh, Mateusz, Mitch. Subs: Lucas, Reece

The least said about this game the better!

Eccles, in the main, stood watching and applauding tackles or runs into contact whilst Leigh were busy driving over the contact area and recycling or winning the ball. A series of three rucks moved Leigh into prime field position and with gaps in the Eccles defence was an easy try to take the lead.

Eccles best endeavours going forward were more than matched by Leigh’s defensive effort. Time after time Eccles were found ball watching whilst Leigh were ball getting!

Leigh proceeded to score 4 further unanswered tries, albeit each caused by a single missed tackle rather than poor rucking, to complete a resounding win.

Final Score: Leigh 5 – 0 Eccles.

Needless to say the after match team talk was stern to say the least. There was weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and many other biblical references that could be applied to describe the debrief.

With Charlie needing to go home due to illness the squad was then down to 11. Hope you are better soon!

Game 2. Broughton Park I

Squad: Ben, Jack, Lewis, Lucas, Mitch, Mateusz, Reece, Zac Subs: Guy, Harry

Following the stinging team talk a response was needed and it came! From the first whistle rucks were being hit, tackling keener and running more assertive.

A pop pass out to the supporting Mitch put Eccles into the lead. The ever supporting Ben took the ball from the scrum, broke the tackle to double the score. Lewis then carried two men over the line, after a break and offload from Ben, to score the third.

A break down the wing from BP (and possibly a foot in touch!) got the opposition on the score sheet. From the restart drives up the middle from Jack and Lewis put Ben through the gap and despite a last gasp tackle his momentum carried him across the line.

Back came BP through a series of rucks and won ball. With the try line beckoning a tackle from Mateusz forced the knock on and save the try. From the ensuing scrum Reece broke through four individual tackles before offloading to Ben. Further offloads to Lewis then to Jack and back to Ben to score a fantastic try and the last one of the game.

Final Score: Broughton Park 1 – 5 Eccles (Ben 3, Lewis, Mitch)

A much better performance and “Yes, Ben” it was the reaction I was looking for (excellent game by the way)

Game 3. Broughton Park II

Squad: Guy, Harry, Josh, Lewis, Mateusz, Mitch, Reece, Zac Subs: Ben, Jack, Lucas

With the morale buoyed by the previous game Eccles took to the field for their final and what would be their most competitive match of the day.

The opening encounters were even stevens with no team able to gain the advantage until Mitch took the ball into contact, the ball recycled and fast hands from Zac putting Mateusz away down the wing.

If there was any thought of this game being a runaway like the last two, then it was put to bed immediately as a misplaced pass allowed BP to draw level. Losing the ball at the restart is never a good thing especially as the ball fell to the BP speedster who looped round the whole team to score in the corner for a 2-1 lead.

Not to be out done, our own speedster Mitch took the ball from the restart dodging and weaving up the middle to level. Just to prove the point he did exactly the same again seconds later (must be that Teflon shirt he wears!) to put Eccles back in front.

The to-ing and fro-ing continued as a missed tackle gave BP their third try.

With players queueing for the ball Guy made a break and a pass inside to Mitch gave him an uncontested run to the line for his third and Eccles fourth try of the game.

With time running down, Mitch proved that his first two tries of the game weren’t flukes by running through the BP team again. Time was called for the match official with BP in possession for the last play of the game. They moved the ball down field through several rucks recycling the ball well until they ran into Mateusz. He stole the ball and head off in search of the try line. The chasing BP pack caught him just short of the line but with support from Guy the move continued and an offload to Jack gave him the opportunity to crash through two BP defenders to score the final try of the day.

Final Score: Broughton Park 3 – 6 Eccles (Mitch 4, Jack, Mateusz)

The reports above only really list the blow by blow tries and not necessarily reflect any individual performance outside those tries. A special mention goes  Zac for a cracking tackle in the second game and really fast hands for Mateusz’ try. Also for Harry, who gave an improved and much more involved performance over last week.

After the first game this could have easily been a day to forget but the performance levels picked up but still lots to work on.

Eccles U10s v Ashton on Mersey – Away – Sunday 2nd October 2016

A crisp but misty dawn gave way to beautiful warming sunshine and the Eccles contingent, now playing at U10s, travelled down the M60 to play Ashton on Mersey in the first game of the season

With the transfer business over the summer completed Eccles gave debuts to new acquisitions, Mateusz and Harry. A big Eccles welcome to both. With a hand injury for Mitch and sickness for Mikey (how many times … No beer on the night before a match!!) Eccles had a squad of 12 to select from.

Whilst last year was the introduction of contact rugby, this year introduces the technical aspects of scrums, mauls and rucks plus the increase in team size from 7 to 8. After discussion with the AOM coaches, Si and Mike, it was decided that two games, the first of 15 mins each way and the second 10 mins each way, would give the near capacity crowd value for money and quench their thirst for rugby.

The teams took to the field with Si taking first unenviable stint as referee.

Game 1

From the off, AOM seemed to be the most comfortable with the new rules. Eccles took the ball into contact only to lose the ensuing rucks turning ball over time and time again. On the plus side the tackling was immense forcing AOM to make mistakes and return the ball back. After losing the ball uncertainty in the AOM back line cause a loose pass to fall nicely to Ben and a clean pair of heels saw him scoot down the wing to score the first try of the season.

From the restart AOM demonstrated the rucking technique to perfection but could just not cross the line amid excellent tackling from Eccles. Per the new rules, a scrum to Eccles from a knock on had Josh at scrum half providing a reverse pass to Reece (where did that come from, not been done in training!) to sprint away down the touch line only to be caught and tackled into touch just short of the line.

More pressure on the AOM attack forced the mistake, the loose ball scooped up by Lewis and the rest was history. AOM were dominant in the rucks but Eccles were more than a match in defence and more purposeful with ball in hand. Whilst the Eccles rucking was almost none existent their scrums were very controlled with the ball each time placed to perfection and the striking clean. From one such scrum the ball passed quickly to Lucas to arc round a bunched defence to score in the corner.

Half Time : AOM 0 – 3 Eccles

AOM kicked off the second half and were switched on from the whistle. Eccles on the other hand were still on half time break. A quick pass gave Emma (star in the making!!) space to run at the Eccles defence swerving towards touch before a wicked sidestep wrong footed the sliding cover to cross for their first try.

With the coaches shouting “encouragement”, Charlie took the ball from the restart and jinked his way up the middle of the park to score and switch the momentum back towards Eccles. More defensive effort forced the mistake and Eccles had the ball again. A reverse of direction allowed Tommy to avoid contact and score in the corner.

Eccles stretched their lead further when for the first time in the game Eccles won a ruck! Ben charged down the middle before being tackled. Jack in support cleared out the attacker and Archie flicked the ball out to Mateusz to crash over for his first try in an Eccles shirt.

As the clock counted down Ben made the break from deep in his own half, threw an audacious dummy putting Jack in the clear down the wing. A fantastic tackle from an AOM player almost snuffed out the danger but Jack had the presence of mind to provide a neat pass inside to the supporting tommy for him to score the simplest but most impressive of team tries.

Full Time : AOM 1 – 7 Eccles (Tommy 2, Ben, Charlie, Lewis, Lucas, Mateusz)

Game 2

Eccles started with a pass to Lewis the “Freight Train” with the inevitable result … a strong run through the heart of the AOM defence and with nobody able to stop him he opened the scoring. AOM were not going to lie down. The impressive Emma, a speedy and constant thorn in Eccles side out paced the Eccles defenders to level the score.

Pressure from the restart gave the ball back to AOM and the smallest player on the field scored from the half way line to take the lead. Eccles roared back with Jack taking the ball up the middle just to be held up short but quick thinking from Josh passed the ball for Lewis to barge over.

It was Lewis again to put Eccles back in front with Jack again the provider by offloading to a full speed Freight Train. To finish the half, Mateusz danced through the AOM team to touch down for his second try of the morning.

Half Time : AOM 2 – 4

As the second half got underway the greater numbers of the Eccles squad provided a huge advantage over a now tiring AOM team. Excellent defensive rucking turned the ball over to Eccles and the quick pass to Jack got him deservedly on the score sheet.

Ben took the ball and looked for the offload only for the would be tacklers to expect the same offload. A quick spin and the tackle was broken allowing him to score in the corner. Jack followed quickly with his second of the match in typical barging fashion.

AOM were now a spent force and a last gasp tackle stopped Tommy from scoring in the corner. In the dying seconds more excellent rucking popped the ball up to Ben to outpace the tired opposition to score the final try of the game.

Final Score : AOM 2 – 8 Eccles (Lewis 3, Ben 2, Jack 2, Matuesz)

A big thank-you and well done to Si and Martin for refereeing two very entertaining games. With the new rules and disciplines both playing and refereeing is all new and all I can say is rather them than me!

Congratulations should also go to Mateusz and Harry, with the former scoring twice, on their first game. I also think Archie should be commended on a controlled performance full of nice neat passing (only one “Hollywood” pass that did go to hands!) plus plenty of forward runs into contact.

Two very good and positive results for the first game of the season and this is a step towards finding our feet for the season. Tackling in both games was awesome and kept AOM at bay for most of the time. With ball in hand the running was strong and direct plus there was some excellent support play, off loads and passing along the line.

One thing to work on is rucking. Whilst the game was won by out tackling and open play we were definitely second best taking the ball into contact. AOM were excellent in placing the ball backwards after contact, getting the second man in and over and then getting the ball away. If our tackling game was not as good, then the results could have been totally different.

Well done all, onwards and upwards!

Eccles Under 9s Presentation – Sunday 8th May 2016

This year, at Under 9s, we had the introduction of contact rugby. Some kids were ready and raring, other hesitant and some not really understanding what “contact” actually meant but from the whole squad there was an air of excitement and a buzz around training.

The parents on the other hand … did not get the same excitement, maybe a little nervousness, possibly a few more worry lines, certainly some wincing as we practiced tackling in training.

The coaches, “business as usual” until the morning of the first ever game, then some nervousness, butterflies, that uneasy feeling in the stomach. Had we done enough in training for them to come through the game safely, are we the same standard as the opposition, kids putting their bodies on the line for the first time, was I sure we were we ready for a game????

That all went away once we kicked off and the teams were evenly matched, natural order of those wanting to get stuck in getting stuck in from the off and the hesitant ones picking their moments to join in but at the end all wanted more. We were set for the season

My greatest fear for this season was that we would have people leaving, not wanting the contact, but that has turned out not the case and this year we have 4 new players, Jack, Mikey, Nathan and Tommy, recruited at various points of the season.

Three, have a rugby league background and their experience of tackling at an earlier age than U9s has been beneficial for the team during matches but more importantly from peer to peer point of view and given more confidence in tackling across the squad.

In the main we have been competitive all season, one mauling early on in the season against Widnes and due to the bad weather/cancelled games we did not have the chance to “put things straight”. Since then have come on leaps and bounds and dished out our own big wins against Orrell, Bolton and Sale.

Everyone has come through the season safely, a few bumps and bruises, no major incidents and they are ready for what the new season throws at them in the way of mini scrums, rucks and mauls

To the awards …

Bronze

Martin and I thought long and hard on what the category should be. One option was hand it over to the parents, but decided against doing “Eccles-Factor” style public vote. We have made this the U9s clubman award with criteria such as attendance, discipline and effort across both training and matches. It also took into account consistency of performance, learning during training and application of what has been taught.

This year the clubman award goes to a player who has been in the running for man of the match in almost every game. His demeanour off the field is placid, friendly and is attentive and observant during coaching sessions although I would want to get in his way on a rugby field. With strong hard straight running all season and a passion for running down the left hand touchline, regardless of where he starts off on the pitch … the bronze award goes to Guy.

Silver

The Silver award this year is for the most improved player. As mentioned at the start we had players with differing attitudes to contact rugby. Our most improved player, I feel, was not in the rough and tumble, get stuck in, no holds barred category at the start of this season. Now I would say he is one of our most accomplished and probably feared tacklers regardless of his diminutive stature. This tackling prowess has also been highlighted time and time again in my recent match reports. He is also one of the first in the team to understand field position and in a match situation, actively look to pass to a team mate in a better position and gain the advantage for the team rather than “I can do it all myself”.

The most improved player and Silver award goes to the player who I was informed two weeks ago at Trafford by their coach, made the “best tackle seen all season” … Josh.

Gold

The Gold award, as it has been for the last two years with this group is for Players Player. This year we have approached the scoring in the exact same way asking for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd places from each player. The positions then attract points and the whole lot added up to give a winner. Looking at who has voted for which player we do have a different spread of points to previous seasons. Historically I have seen Eurovision type voting, ie regions voting for countries in the same region or in this case players voting for players in their own little clique. Not so this season and this means we are coming closer together as a squad which is good to see.

Our Players Player is one of the nicest politest kids you are ever likely to meet (off the field), he has the highest attendance in matches and training, is one of the few that takes instruction on board first time and looks for feedback as to what can be improved, a joy to coach. On the field he is strong going forwards, brave going for the ball, wicked sidestep off his right foot and tactically aware linking players across the field. There was even a game this season where he stepped of his left foot. This year’s top award and Players Player goes to Charlie.

U9s-20160508-Trophies

I would like to say thank you to the U9s parents for the support both Martin and myself have received this season. Without your help in ferrying the kids here and there to games or training, standing on the touchline cheering and encouraging in all sorts of weather or simply allowing us to get on with shouting at errr I mean calmly and quietly instructing your children in rugby we would not have a U9s team.

Onwards and upwards to next year’s more technical challenges, thank you.

Eccles U9s v Trafford MV & Broughton Park – Away– Sunday 24th April 2016

Just as you thought spring had sprung and summer was just around the corner we played our last game of the season in cold, damp and miserable conditions at Trafford MV. On the plus side the poor weather did stop the hordes of “bitey” insects that usually feast on my legs when at Trafford!

Rather than the expected 1-1 match, Broughton Park were also in attendance. Interesting as MV play in thick black and white hoops, BP play in thin black and white hoops and we play in … Que the bibs! Due to numbers of MV, who could raise three teams, we ended up with Eccles and BP teams plus a Barbarians team from BP (4 players) and Eccles (3 players). This meant six teams playing 3 games each of 15 minutes.

Before the start of the contest, all players were reminded of last week’s defeat, that it was a team game and not to play one-man rugby!

Game 1: Eccles v Broughton Park
Team: Ben, Charlie, Guy, Jack, Josh, Lewis, and Reece
Seconded to Barbarians: Lucas, Mikey and Mitch

Within minutes of the kick-off it was obvious that the game was going to be a mismatch. Eccles were passing the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters and stormed into the lead. Ben broke several loose tackles, Charlie used his famous side step and Reece outpaced the defence to go 3-0 up inside the first 2 minutes.

In defence, nothing was getting through as BP were forced backwards tackle by tackle. BP were reduced to 6 men due to injury and the Eccles team was adjusted accordingly down to 6. Jack was next to cross the whitewash but was adjudged to have fended as a BP player was pointing to his arm as a point of contact. Jack did get on the score sheet with a typical strong straight run (keeping his arms tucked in tight) barging through the BP defence to touch down.

Not to be outdone, the freight train also barged through to take the lead to 5-0

From the restart BP tried to come forward but were met with a wall of blue and white with Ben in the centre of it. Following the tackle and a further BP injury, the teams were reduced to 5 v 5. This gave a lot more space for the BP “tricky” speedster and after jinking forwards, backwards left and right crossed for a BP try.

From the restart Eccles were passing nicely. Two drives from Guy and from Lewis, creating space out wide and an expert dummy from Charlie avoiding an offside BP player gave the ball to Ben for his second try.

Eccles were now in cruise (or should that be complacent) mode as BP were allowed a second try of the game with their tricky speedster taking advantage of the space.

Guy crossed the line, but in the aftermath of complaining BP players the ball was brought back and turned over for a fend on the shoulder. Stern tackling again pressured the BP attack and forced them backwards and ultimately turning the ball over. Quick hands then allowed Jack to score in the corner.

As Eccles switched off, BP went in for the last score of the game but the result was not in doubt.

Final Score: Eccles (Ben 2, Jack 2, Charlie, Lewis, Reece) 7-3 Broughton Park
Man Of The Match: Ben (Everywhere on the pitch!)

Game 2: Trafford MV I v Eccles
Team: Ben, Charlie, Guy, Josh, Lucas, Mikey and Mitch
Seconded to Barbarians: Jack, Lewis and Reece

With the squad shuffled and three different players going over to the Barbarians it was Eccles to start the game. Really neat passing gave Lucas the opportunity down the wing but he was tackled into touch. Excellent defence forced a turnover and this time Mitch ran cross field only to be held up short of the line.

Hard tackling and spirited defence from both sides made this an intriguing match as half way through the match it was still 0-0 although it was Eccles that had better opportunities and field position. The deadlock had to be broken at some point and it was … a missed tackle and a side step put MV 1-0 up against the run of play.

More passing from the restart had Eccles going forward and pressing the MV line in the corner. With the whole team in an attacking line, Mitch took the ball as the first receiver to run sideways across the field to score in the opposite corner, two metres forward, 30 across!

Eccles forced a mistake from the restart with Charlie first to the loose ball. The pass to Mikey and straight out to the charging Guy gave him the momentum to plough through the would be tacklers to put Eccles 2-1 up. A quick restart by MF found the Eccles defence unprepared. A last gasp tackle from Josh only slowed the inevitable as a quick offload got MV back in the game at 2-2.

From the restart, Eccles got back into the groove. Plenty of passing was pulling the MV defence left and then right. Josh found Charlie in space and a step and drive later Eccles were back in front.

With the match being so tight and going behind again, frustration was building in the MV camp. After a lost ball at the restart and outburst from MV gave away 5 meters to Eccles and a reset tackle count. Two drives by Ben and Guy moved the ball close to the MV line where Mikey to Lucas to Josh in the corner secured a really hard fought victory.

Final Score: Trafford MV 2-4 Eccles (Charlie, Guy, Josh, Mitch)
Man Of The Match: Charlie (great in defence, looking for the pass)

Game 3: Trafford MV II v Eccles
Team: Jack, Josh, Lewis, Lucas, Mikey, Mitch and Reece
Seconded to Barbarians: Ben, Charlie and Guy

For the final game of the day (and the season) Eccles lines up against a second team from Trafford. With praise abound for the excellent passing performances in the first two games we were ready for a grandstand season finale. But this game was different.

From the start the MV players were more up for the challenge and through lax defending quickly raced in to take a lead on the first play. The restart was passed to Jack who on the first play carried three tacklers over the line for 1-1.

Mv struck again on the next play to go back in front. Lewis charged forward and we were back to one-man rugby again! With the ball subsequently lost in the tackle back came MV to double their advantage.

Eccles were now inviting pressure with the mistake count racking up, whether it be tackled into touch, knock-ons or failed “Hollywood” passes. MV were on top! Quick ball allowed the MV winger to dart for the corner then out of nowhere came Josh … lined up the player and made a perfect try scoring tackle taking the player and the ball (and probably any parent that would have been in the way) two yards into touch. With the watching parents wincing and the MV player dazed and struggling to get up, a brief stoppage was called for while treatment was given. Whispers of the tackle could be heard amongst the onlookers with one describing it as the “best tackle seen all season!”.

After a quick talking to during the stoppage Eccles seemed to get back on track, back to basics and back into the game. Strong running from Jack from close range doubled his tally for the game. MV hit straight back with a jinking run and with nobody putting a shoulder in, skipped through the team to restore a two try lead.

A Lewis break from the restart had the line beckoning only to be held up in-goal. The next tackle from five meters out saw Mitch held up and then Reece. Eccles perseverance paid off as two quick passes from the tackle gave Josh the needed space to half the deficit. Josh then pounced on a loose ball from the restart and Mitch sprinted away to level the game.

With two minutes left it became “same old, same old”. Direct from the restart, MV scored. From the Eccles restart Jack drove the ball to the left corner before Mitch then sprinted across field to level again. Yet again, first play from the restart MV regained the lead. The match official shouted for the last play of the game … Lewis took the ball up the middle carrying three MV tacklers, with three in the attacking line waiting for the pass, Lucas opted to go himself (with everyone shouting to pass) and evaded the MV cover to dive in for a 6-6 final score

Final Score: Trafford MV 6-6 Eccles (Jack 2, Mitch 2, Josh, Lucas)
Man Of The Match: Josh (awesome tackling … in fact, tackle of the season!)

Is it me or are these reports getting longer! Anyways two words left for the season’s match reports …

“The End”

Eccles U9s v Sedgley Park – Home– Sunday 17th April 2016

The penultimate game of the season saw the U9s playing host to Sedgley Park. Blue skies and sunshine greeted the teams on a firm and threadbare pitch. With last weeks game at Blackpool cancelled due to low numbers the team were up for the game, maybe “too” up for it. Even in the warm up, aggression seemed to be high, dummies spat out and toys thrown out of the pram … I think the signs of what was to follow were already evident

Squad: Archie, Ben, Charlie, Guy, Jack, Josh, Lewis, Mikey, Mitch

From the start it was a physical battle. The first three sets of tackles for each side were played out for no tries. Sedgley were the first side to score with a long range mazy run to the corner.

From the next set Eccles hit back, bludgeoning runs from Jack, Lewis and Guy up the middle gave Ben space to jink into the corner. Sedgley were driven back from the restart but a missed tackle gave space to run into and a second long range try for Sedgley restored their lead. Eccles resumed their onslaught up the middle with the usual suspects mixing it with the Sedgley team. Ben broke through two tackles but held on to the ball when the easy pass to the supporting Josh would have brought parity to the game. Further one man rugby did allow Jack to push through and get Eccles back level.

Tackles were flying in thick and fast as Josh perfectly timed a head on tackle to put his opponent firmly on his backside! The aggression started to boil over and high tackle from Eccles, gave away a penalty close to the try line from which Sedgley capitalised. Errors started to creep in for Eccles, on the first drive from the restart the ball was spilled and Sedgley moved two ahead. Again from the restart a knock on gave the ball away and Eccles were lucky to force the Sedgley recipient into touch and avert the danger.

First period: Eccles 2 – 4 Sedgley Park

After moaning about playing the whole half using one man rugby the team was asked to pass the ball out more and get the ball quicker out of the tackle. For the first few minutes the instructions were followed. Mitch took quick ball and darted through a gap to score then a simple passing move took the ball towards the Sedgley try line before Jack collected quick ball from the tackle to get Eccles back on level terms. Easy when you know how!!!

The next passage of play saw tit-for-tat as Sedgley scored followed by Josh reaching full length for the line, then Sedgley again followed by Mikey driving the ball up the centre and offloading to Jack to make it 6-6.

Just as you thought Eccles were gaining the upper hand, the ball was lost in the first tackle twice in succession, both times resulting in Sedgley tries.

Second Period: Eccles 6 – 8 Sedgley Park

In the third and final period the errors kept coming. Only resolute defence from Archie (yes … Archie – two excellent tackles almost back to back) kept Sedgley at bay as unforced errors gave the ball away time and time again and despite the shouts to pass the ball all the players seemed intent on tacking the Sedgley team on alone. Two further tries were scored by Sedgley and the match finished with a first defeat in 2 months.

Final Score: Eccles (Jack 3, Ben, Josh, Mitch) 6 – 10 Sedgley Park

As for most games MOTM could be awarded to a few different players for different reasons. Josh’s tackling was, again, second to none. Guy, Jack and Ben were all big and strong trying to push through the Sedgley front line. This week, MOTM goes to Lewis. Like the three previously mentioned he ploughed into Sedgley time and time again but was the only one running onto the ball. This backs up his excellent performance against Sale, the Freight Train is back. Well done.

Man Of The Match: Lewis

Overall there were some good individual performances but it was actually a poor “Team” performance and not in keeping with recent weeks. Whilst commitment and aggression were visible, the application was not, with too many errors and taking the ball into a needless tussle with the opposition. Numerous times an easy pass could have led to a try but instead the ball carrier tried to do it all themselves rather than play for the team.

The last game of the season is next week, let’s go out on a high and a big TEAM performance.

Darren

Eccles U9s v Sale – Away – Sunday 3rd April 2016

A much depleted Eccles squad made the short journey round the M60 to face an equally understrength Sale side. The early mist was being burnt off by the hazy sunshine on a perfect spring morning and with the cones laid out on the Sale Sharks training pitch 22 area, what more could you ask for.

Both teams only had 6 players available and an initial 10 minutes each way was agreed, with the option of a further period.

Team: Charlie, Jack, Josh, Lewis, Lucas and Mikey

Sale started with the ball and with the Eccles defence not yet awake, quickly made the yards on a short pitch to score and take the lead. From the restart some neat offloading gave Charlie the space to scythe through the Sale defence cross the line under the attention of a Sale defender but pass the ball to the supporting Josh for the try.

Sale restarted and the dangerous winger plundered another try from the first pass. Eccles did not seem to be at the races in defence and Sale regained the lead!

Eccles were much better in attack. From the restart Lewis took the ball on the burst and then the quick offload to Josh passing to Charlie to step of his LEFT foot and cross the line touching down this time to level the match again.

This time from the restart the Eccles defence stepped up to the plate, snuffing out the Sale attack and forcing a turnover ball. A storming Lewis took the ball at speed requiring 4 defenders to take him down, quick ball gave Jack space on the wing to score and put Eccles in front for the first time in the match.

The restart saw the Eccles defence on top again and the turnover allowed Lucas to skip through the Sale defence to get on the score sheet. In two similar passages of play, the Eccles defence held firm again and the turnovers gave both Charlie and Lucas the opportunity to double their personal tallies.

Half Time: Sale 2 – 6 Eccles

At the start of the second half it was Sale’s turn to force a turnover. A missed tackle allowed Sale to score their third. Charlie responded with his third before Sale score again. Any thoughts of a comeback were laid to rest with Jack scoring his second and the impressive Lewis barged over carrying most of the Sale team.

Jack, who had had a quiet first half moved more into the middle of the park and it immediately paid dividends. A drive from Mikey followed by quick ball from Josh found him in space allowing him to sprint away to complete his hatrick. Sale pressed again but were forced back by a knock on from Jack after an attempted interception. Sale should have learned from that as moments later, whilst Sale were just metres from the Eccles line a loose pass and Jack intercepted to go the full length of the field.

An error from the restart gave the ball back to Eccles and three quick passes instigated by Josh allowed Lewis to score again.
More excellent tackling provided a turnover from which Josh unselfishly put Jack through a gap to score the easiest of tries.

Sale to their credit did not give up and in the try of the game, a Sale man showed great strength to drive through the heart of the Eccles defence to touch down

Final Score: Sale 5 – 13 Eccles (Jack 5, Charlie 3, Lewis 2, Lucas 2, Josh)

This week MOTM was really difficult to pick. Three players stood out for three different reasons. Lewis was up for the game from the start, taking the ball at speed and requiring three and four players to take him down each time. The Freight Train was back with a vengeance!

The second stand out performer was Josh but not for his trademark tackling but rather his distribution, passing and support. Throughout the whole match he was on the shoulder of the runner but more importantly he was looking to pass and play a man through the gap and into space. Jack benefitted from this numerous times. This, for me, is the first time any of the players have actively passed the ball for the benefit of the team WITHOUT being told/prompted. This is one of the main things we have been working on in training and is really pleasing to see.

The third and final standout performer, who gains my man of the match is Charlie. Captain for the day, he lead by example and was in the thick of things throughout the whole match. At one point he made/was involved in all 6 tackles in a particular set. He was always looking for the ball tacking it into the tackle or sprinting into space. He even side stepped of his LEFT foot (he did honest)

Man of the Match: Charlie

Well done to all that took part, overall a good performance again!

Darren

Eccles U9s v Orrell – Away – Sunday 20th March 2016

Eeeebygum, weraluvleedayintlowcaltarnoWigun, Eccles tukon Orrell inwotwuzsposedtubehatuffgame. Sorry, being an ex-pat of Wigan I do find myself slippinintauldlingownowantgain.

To recap … it was a lovely day in the local town of Wigan, Eccles took on Orrell in what was on paper a tough game. We met earlier in the season in a tri-game at Tyldesley where a strong running, hard tackling team beat the U9s 10-6. Midweek preparation had concentrated on being up quick in defence to counteract their straight runners.

The kick-off was put back slightly to accommodate some late arrivals so warm up went on for a little longer than usual and a bit of giddiness started to creep in. This didn’t bode well and usual first warm up drill was then done at the end to try and get the team to concentrate.

After discussion with Martin from Orrell three ten minute periods was agreed and the game kicked off.

Team: Archie, Ben, Charlie, Guy, Jack, Josh, Lucas, Mitch and Reece

Orrell started the game. From the first whistle the Eccles heads were “ON”. Orrell runners were pushed backwards by the Eccles defensive wall. This was to be the pattern of the whole match!!!

With Orrell using all 6 tackles for no gain, the first pass to the running Ben gave him the momentum to break through four Orrell tacklers to touch down. From the restart the Orrell attack went nowhere again and this time the first pass to Jack saw him follow Bens lead, breaking any would be tackler to score. This pattern was followed again and again and at the end of the first period Eccles had a commanding lead and both Jack and Ben had three tries a piece.

The second period started much the same, all the Eccles boys wanting a piece of the action. Charlie followed the format of the first half, bursting through a number of tackles to score. Lucas was the next one bursting through only to tackled over the line and knocking on in the process. Guy took up the ball through the heart of Orrell to take the score to eight.

At this stage it would have been easy for Orrell to simply throw in the towel. But they kept pressing forward as best they could. As the ball was passed out of the tackle, Charlie was pulled back by the official for being offside and the whole of the Eccles defence stopped. This gave space on the outside for Orrell to cross the whitewash.

Any thoughts of a comeback was squashed from the restart as Mitch showed a clean pair of heels up the wing. Next up was Lucas who this time skipped through to, this time, correctly ground the ball.

Orrell were now making a better fist of things and at least gaining ground even if the tries were not being scored but were finding the Eccles defence too strong as sets of tackles were completed without troubling the scoreboard. However a loose pass from Eccles (note: the only one of the game!!!!!) saw the winger sprint away down the touchline for their second try.

With the Orrell tackling improving Eccles started to offload in the tackle and the quick ball gave tries to Josh and Jack to see out the second Period with Eccles leading 12-2.

For the final period the boys were asked to pass the ball more rather than stick to the (successful) one man rugby they had played in the first two periods. The offloading became faster and more proficient. Mitch and Guy both scored their second tries from quick offloads.

Enter Archie … the Hollywood pass specialist … looped a long pass missing out three players straight to speedster Reece and with the space available there was only going to be one result … try!

Orrell were still battling and scored their third try of the game with some well worked passing.

If you thought Eccles were going to coast for the last 5 mins, think again! Quick play from the tackle and a couple of passes later Charlie touched down followed by another try from Lucas.

Eccles did save the best passage of play till the last! The pass to Guy, 10m gain, quick ball to Ben, 10m gain, quick ball again to Jack, 20m gain, try saving tackle from Orrell but again quick ball and Josh in to score the final try of the game (again!!!)

A fantastic display against what looked like a very jaded and tired Orrell side. Fair play to Orrell who did keep going to the bitter end.

Final Score: Eccles (Jack 4, Ben 3, Charlie 2, Guy 2, Josh 2, Lucas 2, Mitch 2, Reece 1) 18 – 3 Orrell
Man of the Match: Jack (in the thick of EVERYTHING for the whole match!)

Whilst the above goes into detail about the tries what is not covered fully is the defensive effort put in by everyone. Before the game we was expecting running from deep so in training and just prior to the game we worked on getting up quickly from the breakdown to make the next tackle as soon as possible. The boys executed this perfectly throughout the match driving Orrell backwards at will. Special defensive mentions need to go to Ben, Charlie, Guy and Jack for being the main instigators of putting Orrell on the back foot for the whole game. In addition Orrell could have had three further tries but for the trademark flying last ditch tackles from Josh.

Well done to all, excellent performance

Darren

Eccles U9s v Leigh – Home – Sunday 13th March 2016

How did the U9s play? In a word – BRILLIANT! The best we have ever played both individually and as a team.

Perfect conditions, soft underfoot with warm sun on our backs. We were missing Nathan, Tommy and Mitchell so I was expecting a bit of a drubbing, considering they had 16 players to our 10.

Team: Archie, Ben, Charlie, Guy, Jack, Josh, Lewis, Lucas, Mikey and Reece

Leigh started the first game and looked to run things up the middle but our defence was up to the challenge – the usual suspects of Ben, Lewis, Jack and Josh putting in their now customary defensive hits but everybody was up to it. The game to-fro’d for a few tries as we held Leigh up on our own line for 2-3 sets of tackles without conceding.

Archie was playing in the “dummy half” role and relished the challenge set by me to get there first and LOOK at his team-mates as he was picking the ball up – couple of missed passes going directly to outside team-mates (Lewis and Jack I think) for scores.

Another big positive was the support and quick play the balls/ off-loads/ passing phases which had Leigh on the back foot throughout

All in all we played 4 quarters of very close competitive rugby in pretty much the same vein and I think we just edged them all by 1-2 tries.

The commitment and skill shown by all the lads was better than anything previously on display.

Special mention’s for Charlie – who at one stage in quarter 3 (I think ) single handedly made 4 consecutive tackle in our own quarter…!!! One for Josh for another fearless display of Lewis Moody-esque tackling, scoring another late try with a jinking run and “I`ll smash through those big lads” dive (I was wincing…!!)

On the day everybody got and deserved great praise from Coaches and parents alike, but MY MOM goes to Mikey for stepping up 2-3 notches and carrying some great balls in and driving forward with great determination!

Really proud of them all

Oh yeah – must mention Reece for continuing his tackling display from Weds training session into the game, like a little Wasp…!!!

Martin

Eccles U9s v Tyldesley – Home – Sunday 21st February 2016

After two excellent performances the U9s were set to try and make that three in a row. The visitors today were Tyldesley and we battled to a hard fought draw in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. A full turnout from Eccles allowed the creation of two teams, two games against a single (but man for man bigger) team from Tyldesley. Team captains for the day Reece and Mitch made their selections and it was Mitch’s team up first.

Team Mitch: Ben, Charlie, Lewis, Lucas, Mikey, Mitch and Nathan,

Mitch won the toss and Eccles started the game. From the first play it was evident that Tyldesley were up for the challenge with the defence being up in the line quickly and ferocious tackling driving Eccles backwards from the off. Their pressure paid off as a fumbled ball gave Tyldesley possession deep in the Eccles half and lax tackling gave them the first try of the game.

From the restart Eccles were again forced backwards. Slow playing of the ball, loose passing and not getting past the gain line was keeping the team on the back foot. A tackle into touch forced the turnover and Tyldesley were able to convert for a 2-0 lead.

Eccles gained a slice of luck as Mitch escaped the two man tackle to sprint in to open space to score Eccles’ first try. Eccles were struggling to contain the Tyldesley attack. Poor tackle technique allowing many metres to be gained up the middle and a third try to be scored.

Eccles were wilting under the immense pressure from Tyldesley and another tackle into touch turned the ball over for a fourth try just before half time.

After a talking to by both Martin and myself that included tackling round the legs, quick play the ball, tackling round the legs, getting the ball out wide, tackling round the legs, offloading before/in the tackle and tackling round the legs, the players “trudged” back into position for the second stint.

The half started brighter for Eccles! The quicker ball and offloading was allowing Eccles to go forwards and 5 offloads in succession going from right to left and then back again gave Ben the space to pull a try back for the home side. Resolute defending from Eccles also forced a turnover followed by quick ball in their own half put Mitch through a gap and nobody was going to catch him.

Any thought of a comeback was dashed with numerous turnovers as Eccles reverted to the sloppy tackling. Five tries without response saw the game out for the visitors.

Final Score: Eccles (Mitch 2, Ben) 3 – 9 Tyldesley

Man of the Match: Charlie (explosive 30 second cameo for Team Reece, see below.)

A quick talk in light of the first game took place with the members of Team Reece. The disappointment of the first game was used as “what not to do” and as you can imagine it also involved tackling, tackling and tackling with special emphasis on tackling

Team Reece: Archie, Guy, Jack, Josh, Reece and Tommy

Tyldesley won the toss and kicked off. The first drive was met by a crunching tackle from Jack driving the man backwards, their second drive met by Guy, the third by Tommy and the fourth by Josh and Archie combined all for the gain of zero yards and the remaining two tackles completed and turnover ball in good midfield position. If Tyldesley though this game was going to be easy … think again!

From the off, quick ball followed strong running followed pass out into space. Tommy was first on the score sheet with a typical jinking run. Tyldesley completed their set of six but were held up short of the try line and further strong running and excellent passing set Guy sprinting down the left (his favourite) touchline to make it two.

Again the Eccles tackling thwarted the Tyldesley attack and then a superb series of passing gave Josh the space to spectacularly dive into the corner. As a reminder, lax defending from the restart allowed Tyldesley to get on the scoresheet with a try from the first play of the ball.

Further drives, quick ball allowed Jack to skirt across the defensive line and bulldoze his way through the Tyldesley defence. The Eccles tackling showed no sign of tiring with big hits coming in from everyone. A spilled ball saw Jack pounce and put Reece down the wing only to be tackled millimetres from the line. Tyldesley tried in vain to move from their own try line but resolute tackling again forced the turnover straight to Tommy for try number 5

From the restart Tyldesley, for the first time this match, made the yards up the middle and on the last play managed to drive the ball over for a half time score of 5-2

The second half was almost the same … with the exception that the tackling, from Eccles, got better. Josh took the first tackle of the second half head on against the biggest player on the pitch (“you aint going anywhere mate!!!!”) but took a knock in the process. Charlie came on as a sub, took the ball as first receiver and had acres of space to his right to run into. Instead a step of the right foot sent him left into two defenders but had the speed and strength to break both tackles to touch down.

Eccles stepped up the tackling even more, now forcing Tyldesley back time and time again. Turnover ball again gave the opportunity for Tommy to gain his hatrick. If three were not enough more big tackles from Jack and Guy provided a loose ball, picked up in his own half … there was only one place that this was going … try number 4 for Tommy and try 8 for Eccles.

With the game all but over, could there be a spectacular finale? The ball two yards short of the line in the right hand corner, the Tyldesley defence was bunched, the last tackle and play of the game AND the whole team in a perfect attacking line. Archie in the left wing position screaming for the ball, the coach screaming for the ball to be passed out wide, the crowd looking on with bated breath … it was on, it was definitely on.

Tommy played the ball to Josh who played the ball to errrr no one (aaaagggghhhh but the pass down the line was ON), he angled back towards the waiting defence, into the first tackler then the second and also a third but he was still going forward and somehow seemed to go through the legs to touch down for the final try of the game.

Final Score: Eccles (Tommy 4, Josh 2, Charlie, Guy, Jack) 9 – 2 Tyldesley

Man of the Match: Jack (excellent tackling, in the thick of things from start to finish)

Overall I am disappointed in the performance in the first game but second game showed what we can do if we get stuck in and actually tackle low. Hopefully the weather/pitches allow for training on Wednesday and Sunday as we could do with some practice.

Darren

Eccles U9s v Bolton – Away – Sunday 14th February 2016

“Roses are red
They also have petals
The best Under 9s team on the day
Just had to be Eccles!”

Under perfect conditions we made the short trip to local rivals Bolton. For the second week running the sun was shining in clear blue skies and with the Bolton pitch in fantastic condition it was down to the U9s to entertain the crowd.

A full turnout, again for the second week running, allowed two teams to be picked by team captains Guy and Lewis. For the first time this season, we had the greater numbers and with Bolton only having 7 meant that we played two matches against one Bolton team. In addition both Martin and I could watch all the action.

Game 1: Archie, Guy, Jack, Mikey, Reece and Tommy

Winning the toss was only just the start. From the get-go the Eccles boys took it to Bolton and they never looked back. Three drives up the middle and then a break from Reece opened the scoring. If the Bolton scouts had been at Gorton Street last week they would have known that giving the ball to a big man is pointless with Tommy and Jack in the team!

That being said Bolton gave it a go but met the Eccles wall time and time again. With the sterling defence also came the quick attack. Turnover ball gave Tommy to dance past the defence running 3 times the length of the pitch (forwards then backwards to the left then the right) to score.

Archie and Mikey both took turns to run at the Bolton defence and Guy carried the ball in to a two man tackle and then proceeded to drive the players 10 meters backwards before the tackle was completed. Not to be out done Jack picked up the ball in his own half barging through four tackles and still having the strength to cross the try line. Another turnover from Bolton gave a second try to Tommy who after a quick pass on the Eccles try line sprinted past the whole of the sleeping Bolton defence.

Bolton were looking a beaten team already but did muster an attack playing out tackle 6, tackle 7 and tackle 8 before the Eccles defence gave way. With seconds on the clock Jack showed a clean pair of heels as Eccles finished the half as they started. All the Eccles players went off for a well deserved drink only for the official to advise that wasn’t the half time whistle??????

Bolton continued with the restart and a lapse in concentration allowed Bolton to gain their second try.

The second half followed the same pattern with the crowd shouting the tackle count (well just me) to assist the referee. Guy got on the scoresheet with what is becoming his trademark dart to the left wing and then follow the touchline into the corner (twice). Reece also doubled his tally as did Tommy and Jack

Whilst the above concentrates on the try scoring the biggest positive of the game came from the performance of Archie. For the first time this season he seemed to have his game head on. He took the first drive of the game and was constantly in the thick of the action in attack (although didn’t get on the score sheet) and apparently I missed his tackle (maybe I was helping a Bolton player at the time).

All in all an excellent game from Eccles.

Final Score: Eccles (Jack 4, Tommy 4, Guy 2, Reece 2) 12 – 6 Bolton

Man Of the Match: Archie

Game 2: Ben, Charlie, Josh, Lewis, Lucas, Mitch and Nathan

With the words “That’s how to do it” ringing in their ears the next team took their starting positions for Game 2.

Note … I apologise if I get the number of tries scored by each player wrong they were coming thick and fast!!!

With a new Eccles team to play, Bolton went back to their “big man” game plan but to no effect at all. Nathan, Ben and Lewis all hitting the tackles with great enthusiasm as the Bolton team wilted under the pressure.

Ben kicked off the scoring in typical energetic fashion followed by Mitch, Nathan x2, Lewis and Mitch again. Lucas was also making the most of lacklustre Bolton defence to score twice, the first being an outrageous dummy where all the Bolton team stepped to follow the intended pass with Lucas scooting up the touchline instead.

In the second half the Eccles tackles were piling the pressure on and Bolton capitulated. Knock ons from the restart not once, twice but three times gave Eccles the ball with only one result … an Eccles try, Lucas, Lewis and Charlie benefitting.

Even when Bolton did manage to defend the full set of tackles and gain a turnover, the frustration bubbled over in which a Bolton player kicked the ball away and the official gave a penalty the other way from which Eccles promptly scored, Lucas taking advantage.

Finally the best try, not just of this match but also the one before, saw a jinking run from Tommy who offloaded to Charlie. A trademark step of his right foot cut across the realigning Bolton defence and then just before the tackle provided a perfect pass for Josh to then dive below the Bolton cover. Excellent rugby!!!!

A totally dominant performance from Eccles against a very below par (and probably extremely tired towards the end) Bolton side.

Final Score: Eccles (Mitch 4, Nathan 4, Lucas 3, Ben 2, Lewis 2, Josh, Charlie,) 17 – 3 Bolton

Man Of The Match: Nathan

Two awesome performances that improved on last week. The tackling was better all round, support play was evident and the speed at playing the ball was much quicker. As Martin pointed out, in the team huddle after the second game, there are still things to work on. Both games were predominantly one man rugby (but with quick play the ball). Most of the runs did have supporting players that were not needed but at times we could have made things easier by passing the ball out. And a number of times getting the ball out wide earlier would give much more space to run in to.

Well done boys, excellent performance, keep it up – Tyldesley at home next week