ECCLES SNR COLTS 12 – 13 MACCLESFIELD SNR COLTS. 09/10/16
We started brightly but unable to convert our pressure to points, Macclesfield then countered and opted to kick for goal after running a couple of penalties. We responded quickly, good handling between our centres saw Damola Ayanlaja-Lowo break through the Macc defence to score a well deserved try after a great off load from Reece Walker. HT 5-3.
Macc had the edge at the start of the second half and scored two unconverted tries to lead 5-13 going into the last ten minutes. Eccles however showed great spirit to the end, with Damola scoring a second late try, followed by a brilliant conversion by Zak Brooker. Macc restarted with a minute to go and held out to take the game 12-13.
Another narrow defeat. We made silly mistakes wasting two penalties awarded in their 22, had a try denied for ‘double movement’ and another denied for ‘held up’ following a driving maul from a line out in the corner. But with no cards, no injuries and a squad of 18 there were more positives than not.
ROCHDALE SNR COLTS 27 – 31 ECCLES SNR COLTS. 16/10/16
Carrying the burden of six straight defeats we travelled into the Pennies with 15 players to face a tough test of our resolve. With props, locks and backs all absent, once again the stretched team is asked to dig deep and compete in unfamiliar positions. Eccles make a confident start with Kyle Dowarka showing great conviction to finish off good passing with a try in the corner. Our hosts equal the score straight from the restart- we respond with determined endeavour and brilliant footwork from Leon Simpson leads to a converted try between the sticks. Rochdale hit back with consecutive tries and appear to have control at HT 22-12.
With the bit between our teeth we find the next gear. Our make-shift tight five, Chris Thomas, Fin Cox and Cami Higgingbottom (C) Kayne McNally and Harry Melia, put in a massive shift and begin to dominate the previously commanding Rochdale pack; flankers Joe Gaffey and Matt Small increase their ferocious work rate; Zak Brooker, Louis Ayre and Damola repeatedly break the gain line, half backs Washy and Leon sting like wasps. A disputed driving maul try in the corner from the home team does not diminish our defiance or purpose. Terrific tries from Matt Hope and Leon are a reward for our determined, collective effort. With the score now 27-24 and with a few minutes remaining Eccles taste blood and draw on reserve tanks to complete the fight back. In a sublime move that crosses the park, Matt Small’s fast hands send Mike ‘Missile’ Shaw through for the winning try, converted by Leon.
A great game of rugby, a complete team performance, a hard fought sweet first victory. Rochdale were gracious hosts and their coaches are to be congratulated for their sportsmanship and hospitality in the clubhouse after the match, and for their efforts to ensure the game was played despite common colts issues with player injuries and availability. The referee, Mr Kimber, should also be commended for his calm management of a few flash points which prevented this close contest from boiling over. The coaches would also like to acknowledge and thank our patient travelling support.
Despite our numerous setbacks over the first seven weeks, this Colts team keep going forwards regardless; they refuse to give up. If the commitment, belief, tenacity and discipline displayed in this match can be regularly reproduced, then the next two thirds of our season should be a different experience.
Our next fixture is the first round of the Lancashire Colts Cup, at home to Preston Grasshoppers, Sunday 23rd October, KO 2pm.