Temperatures that wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of a Canadien Winter greeted the teams on the compact pitch under the railway tunnel; a pitch however, that was in reasonably good condition given the fact that the U15’s had played just 30 minutes earlier
The mood of the game was set with the very first action as straight from the Burnley Kick-Off Eccles Knocked-On. The Burnley Forwards were clearly up for the game as they forced Eccles back towards their Try line with wave upon wave of attack. Eccles concede a penalty and Burnley take the decision to kick and get some early points on the board.
0 – 3
Further bad news for Eccles as Ellis Pearson pulls up with an injury to his knee. Ellis’ injury sees Matty Lee join a game in which he would go to excel in.
Eccles regrouped but still found themselves pinned back until a break from defence by Matty Lee saw Eccles gain valuable yards into the Burnley half. Eccles were becoming frustrated as a number of minor infringements seemed to go unpunished and decisions seemed to go against them. Without regular mouthpiece Dan, it began to look as though no one would order themselves a cheese slice. Step forward the Burnley Flanker, windmilling his Louis Vuittons like a crazed Spongebob in the direction of anyone in Navy & White (but mainly Josh Green) he found himself to be the proud owner of a Tesco SmartPrice Cheese slice and in truth, very fortunate not to have seen rouge. Shea Skillicorn too managed to collect a slice of Leerdammer and a reprimand from the referee – unsure what this card was for, although Valentines Days is fast approaching!!
Eccles got themselves back into the game whilst Burnley had a bit of a power-nap shortly after conceding the last in a massive series of penalties. Quick thinking Matthew Walker took a Tap and weaved his way through the nodding Burnley players to score in the corner
5 – 3
Within five minutes of going ahead Eccles fell behind again as a loose pass across the Eccles line was intercepted by the Burnley Centre who ran through almost unchallenged to score under the posts.
5 – 10
As half time approached Eccles were again bossing the game. They had Burnley on the back foot and were controlling the speed and tempo of play in all areas of the pitch. Just as Burnley thought they would see out the half ahead, Harry Candland broke through the Burnley lines to score Eccles second Try of the game on the stroke of Half Time. Matthew Walker converted to leave Eccles ahead by 2 points at the break.
12 – 10 Half Time
Eccles were forced in to more changes as Matthew Walker retired injured and Ed Hampson needed to head off to work. So a 14 man Eccles side got the second half started and it would be Burnley who would take the initiative yet again, no doubt buoyed by the Eccles numerical disadvantage and the loss of Ed and our 10.
A number of Eccles players seemed to stop in their tracks in expectation of play being brought back for a forward pass but the whistle was never going to be blown and Burnley found themselves ahead again.
12 – 17
A clash of heads put paid to Tanny Kelsey’s involvement and saw Eccles down to just 13 players with almost a full half to play. Needless to say, in the face of huge adversity Eccles showed the tremendous guts, determination and spirit that they are known for, and with the additional space that fewer numbers on the pitch presented, Eccles began to play with a level of freedom and pace that previously had been stifled by the huge Burnley Pack.
Jordan Burns would be the first to capitalise on the additional space as he collected the ball at the back of the Ruck and opened his legs, bursting past the hapless Burnley defence to score right in the postage stamp at the corner of the Try line. Joe Barrett stepped up and hammered the ball between the uprights.
19 – 17
Eccles extended their lead shortly afterwards with a typically Shea like Try from Shea Skillicorn; ball tucked high under his arm and running straight through the Burnley Forwards, Midfield and Defence, scattering players like blue & yellow 10-pins.
24 – 17
Even though Eccles had scored 4 Try’s to Burnley’s 2, the game was still delicately poised as a converted Try from Burnley would rob Eccles of a victory they had fought hard for.
Eccles were still playing the better rugby and it would soon pay off as Joe Rapinett collected the ball from James Fletcher inside the Burnley half. Joe had plenty to do but, at full pace managed to hold off the tackles and plant the ball in almost the same spot as Jordan had done earlier in the half. Joe Barrett again converted from an incredibly tight angle to seal the win for the 13 men of Eccles.
31 – 17 Full Time
Eccles Junior Colts’s Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad
- David Smith
- Josh Green
- Ellis Pearson
- Max Riley
- James Fletcher
- Joe Rapinett
- Ed Hampson
- Keiron Reed
- Nat Kelsey
- Matthew Walker
- Harry Candland
- Shea Skillicorn
- Jack Williams
- Rob Strickland
- Brad Palmer
- Matty Lee
- Joe Borrett
- Dan Aspinall
- Will Toone
- Albert Tonoyan
- John Grundy
- Chris Gillard
- Josh Stafford
Scores on the Doors
Half Time 12 – 10
Full Time 31 – 17
Eccles Try Scorers
- Matthew Walker
- Harry Candland
- Jordan Burns
- Shea Skillicorn
- Joe Rapinett
- Matthew Walker 1 / 2
- Joe Borrett 2 / 3
Eccles Man of the Match was awarded by Burnley to Kieron Reed who lead from the front with his relentless and powerful running from start to finish
Eccles suffered a couple of early setbacks with injuries to Ellis Pearson and Matthew Walker, neither of whom were able to continue. Work commitments saw Ed Hampson take an early shower, leaving Eccles down to just 14 players. The lads rallied and battled on but were soon down to 13 players when Scrum Half Tanny Kelsey took a knock to the head. Ironically, being down to 13 players opened up the pitch to the Eccles brand of rugby with fast, secure ball handling and lightening quick breaks being the winning formula over the shear grunt of Burnley.
Eccles briefly fielded 16 players when Blue broke free from the grasp of Martin Parkinson and joined the Ruck. Skidding about on the mud, arms windmilling in every possible direction and blurting out some quality old Anglo Saxon literary, Martin took the Eccles numbers up to 17 as he chased Blue around the bemused Burnley Forwards and off the field.
How high was that tackle on Rob Strickland??
Never underestimate mate your opponent! This Burnley side was unrecognised from the team we beat bu over 100 points just prior to Christmas. They came to Gorton Street off the back of two great results against Colne. Like Burnley, Clitheroe have had a mixed season so far but have beaten Burnley home & away, Oxton Parkonians and secured a draw against Colne. Sunday will be far more difficult than the home fixture late last month.
Another fine show from the lads in difficult conditions against a side built of physicality. Matty Lee put in one of his best performances, carrying the ball on numerous occasions and even finding himself breaking the Burnley line within his own half and making 60 or 70m before setting up a Ruck.
With Matthew Walker off the field, Joe Barrett stepped up to take on the kicking duties. Joe’s kicking was fantastic and included two straight out of the Matthew Walker scrap-book of ‘Kicks from the Touch Line’.
Eccles were fairly disciplined throughout the game despite some provocation, windmilling and even the occasional karate kick. This indiscipline and red mist did see the Burnley 7 receive a lenient cheese slice. The cheese slice that Shea received is still a bigger mystery that the Bermuda Triangle
Eccles Line-Out is usually a huge strength but today it just didn’t happen for us. Clever play from Burnley stifled the Eccles Line-Out, forcing mistakes, Knock-On’s, wayward throws etc. Lets hope for better at Clitheroe.
Our battles with teams of East Lancashire continues next week as we travel up to Clitheroe RUFC. In our previous meeting at Gorton St, it was Eccles who came out on top but as todays result will tell us, this does not necessarily mean we will have it all our own way on Sunday.
Hopefully we will have a strong squad to take North on Sunday, but this will depend on how some of the lads recover from knocks and injuries – Dan, Matthew, Ellis, Tanny; the availability of our U16s Chris, John, William, Joe; and commitment from those that couldn’t make todays game – Albert
Wednesday as usual – lets see if we can get a good turn out at training this week; work on our game and take the outworking of training in to Sundays fixture.
Remember the Six P’s
Proper Preparation Prevents etc