ECCLES 14 – 57 MANCHESTER.
LANCASHIRE U18 SENIOR COLTS CUP, QUARTER FINAL. 30/10/16
Last Sunday afternoon the Eccles Senior Colts entertained Manchester in the Lancashire Senior Colts Cup Quarter Final. We knew little about our opponent as Manchester had withdrawn from the Colts League at the beginning of the season due to a lack of players, but to their credit arrived with a strong travelling support and a competitive squad of 21.
Eccles’s already depleted numbers were unfortunately further diminished by five players who were participating in Lancashire RFU county trials and fixtures on the same afternoon. Despite this, the home team continued to master the squad rotation policy to ensure we started the match with a bare 15 players and our customary makeshift back line.
The opening 20 minutes produced an even contest with some quality Rugby played by both sides. Manchester opened the scoring with a good finish in the corner after a couple of missed tackles. Eccles achieved long periods of possession in the opposition 22, but we were unable to turn our pressure into points.
Eccles suffered a further blow when Fly-half Tim Cullen was injured and replaced by Kyle Dowarka who had just arrived after a spectacular timekeeping ‘clocks-back’ failure resulting in not one but several extra hours in bed! Manchester responded to our reshuffled positions with two quick tries, one directly following the restart. Despite this blow to our morale we continued to battle and regained composure. Half time we were 0-17 down, but far from out.
The second half saw Eccles work very hard to gain territory and score twice. The first from Louis Ayre and the second from Zak Brooker, both determined efforts and both converted with excellent kicks from ZB. But as Eccles toiled and tired, Manchester’s ability to bring on fresh legs into their backs boosted their performance and scoring.
Eccles became their own worst enemy as we gifted our visitors with three soft tries in quick succession, directly from consecutive restart kicks in the space of 6 minutes, effectively taking the tie well out of reach.
Another disappointing defeat for Eccles, but there were a number of positives to take into the coming weeks. Despite missing a number of teammates, our forwards managed to dominate the scrum and we won the majority of line outs with great effort and work rate from all 8 lads. Our heads didn’t drop and we continued to battle until the very end, even though the result was inevitable long before the final whistle.
On the day we were beaten by a better side and we wish Manchester the best of luck in their cup Semi-Final next spring (where they will meet Sefton, Rochdale or Widnes, three of our competitors from Colts League C).
The Referee Mr Steve Bennett, also deserves credit for his management of a competitive, physical match.
Eccles Colts now have the opportunity of a fresh start. Our next fixture is a repeat of our opening day encounter, Sefton at home, in the new Raging Bull U18 Colts Conference League C. Sunday 6th November, KO 2pm.
Post Script. Please come down and support the colts if you can. This week Preston Grasshoppers withdrew from the Senior Colts League due to a lack of committed players. They are the seventh such team to do so since the start of the season.