MACCLESFIELD SNR COLTS 34 – 45 ECCLES SNR COLTS 04/12/16
Sunday afternoon, bathed in perfect golden sunlight, Priory Park Macclesfield witnessed something special. As the home team’s 22-strong squad amassed on the touchline, Eccles lined up face them with 11 players. When the final whistle blew, Eccles left the pitch exhausted but victorious. The effort and dedication of all those involved was nothing short of heroic.
Saturday night and Sunday morning featured a flurry of text apologies. The Colts set off to Cheshire with 7 players injured and 7 more unavailable due to other commitments. Could things get any worse? Apparently so. A dozen players departed the dressing room, but a calamitous collision during the warm up left Rory McGrath concussed and unable to participate!
Eccles began hesitantly, going 5-0 down after 5 minutes to Macclesfield who took advantage of their superior numbers to create a good overlap on their left wing. This sparked a response and straight from the restart we began to find our feet in the contest with some determined tackling. At 8 minutes Fly-Half Leon Simpson out-paced the defence down our left flank, running almost the full pitch length to score his first try of the afternoon, placing the ball under the posts to make his conversation kick a formality. 5-7.
Eccles continued to press Macc, forcing errors in their territory. Our work rate and close support outstanding. Without wingers or fullback we set up with a tight but flexible forward formation with flankers providing defensive cover. With 15 mins played Kyle Dowarka was unlucky not to score, grounding the ball 5m short of the goal line as a result of deceptive pitch marking. Attacking pressure was maintained and few minutes later Leon chipped over the top, the fullback couldn’t gather and Leon pounced, adding a second try and conversation. 5-14.
The game adopted the fast pace of sevens, with end-to-end attacks and counter attacks. Macclesfield responded with a try and were unfortunate with two further attempts that were held up. The Eccles defence was defiant and industrious. Loose forward Joe Gaffey tackled around the field and rocketed out of a scrum to charge down a kick in the Macclesfield 22 with the ball unluckily not bouncing in his favour. On 25 minutes Prop John Nicholson breaks free and charges up the right wing, powering through tackles and offloading brilliantly to Zak Brooker who, evading challenges, powers through to score the try. Leon converts. 10-21. As the first half comes to a close, fatigue plays its part when a scrum near our own goal line leads to a series of errors and a Macclesfield score. The break comes at a good time for us to regroup and recuperate. HT 17-21.
Eccles begin the second half focussed and determined to do the simple things well. Prop Antony McNally takes the catch from the restart and proceeds to maraud for the next 35 minutes. 2nd row bro Kayne McNally is equally everywhere. He’d be in everyone’s face if it wasn’t for Hooker Fin Cox already being there. Cami Higgingbottom (C) who travelled back from the Midlands to make the match ably captains the chaos. We struggle in the line-out but dominate the scrum. On 45 minutes Chris Thomas at centre, proves he has great feet for a big man and swerves his was through several tackles, commencing an attack that culminates in a try by Kyle. Leon and centre Reece Walker combine superbly throughout the second half. An attacking break from Eccles in the midfield is completed by Zak who sprints 50m to score his second try on 50 minutes. 17-33.
With the exertion of playing the entire match outnumbered, Eccles understandably begin to tire in the last quarter. Joe, Kyle and Reece hang on to tackles like lions but Macclesfield claim two tries late in the game to narrow the scoreline. No panic. Leon scores his hat-trick try and 5th conversation on 60 minutes but perhaps saves the best for last, when on 69 minutes from a central position he chips deftly over the top for Chris to chase and ground the ball in the corner for our 7th try of the afternoon. FT 34-45.
A fearless, fully-committed performance from every single player and a memorable match for everyone there. Our appreciation to our hosts Macclesfield who accommodated our low numbers with good grace and sportsmanship, despite it disrupting their own match preparations. Our thanks also to all the parents who gave their day to transport the lads and support their efforts. Without committed players and parents there is no Colts team.
Eccles Colts next fixture is Away v Rochdale, Sunday 18th December, KO 2pm.