BIRKENHEAD PARK SNR COLTS 36 – 15 ECCLES SNR COLTS 13/11/16
The Eccles Colts ability to name of squad of 20 fit players two weeks ago resulted in a home victory and a joint top of the league spot in the Raging Bull League Conference C. This lofty position was unfortunately short lived as 15 players made the 100-mile round trip to Birkenhead Park last Sunday.
Eccles made a languid start, throwing away a great line out attacking opportunity in the opposition 22. Unlike the Mersey Tunnel, our defence is wide open and Birkenhead score at the other end with their first attack after 3 minutes. This sets a pattern for the opening exchanges. We apply pressure and achieve an attacking scrum in their 22, only for the ball to come out of the side and our opposition regain possession. An irritable, heated competition develops with plenty of flash points, which the Referee manages admirably. Props from both teams engage in off the ball incidents and continue their verbal abuse. After 10 mins the Ref has enough and yellow cards them both. Using their bench Birkenhead adapt better to being a player short and proceed to set up camp in the Eccles half. After a poor attempted clearance of a deep kick the hosts score a second try on 16mins and a third try straight from the kick off on 18mins. Not for the first time this season we provide our opposition with a 17-0 lead; are not able to keep the ball long enough to respond; are not able to keep 15 players on a pitch.
The props return to the fray, only for the Ref to stop play to speak to the Locks about discipline. The Eccles pack compose themselves and with good work on the right flank, scrum-half St Washington of Walkden takes time out from polishing his new halo to flight a long accurate pass to Zak Brooker who, under tackle pressure deftly offloads to centre Mike Shaw who accelerates through a gap to score a great try in the left corner, with our first attack on 25 minutes. We end the first half calmer and in the ascendency.
We begin the second half with more possession and control. 10 mins in we win a penalty, ZB kicks to the corner, for a line out 10 meters out. A well taken catch by Jumping Joe Gaff and well a executed driving maul, results in a ball out the back for Missile Mike to hit. Score. 17-10. A fight back is looking possible. Fresh legs would drive our momentum, but all we have on the sidelines are water bottles and half a dozen Harribos. We battle. We tire. We miss tackles. Birkenhead refresh their team and score three unanswered tries to take the game away from Eccles.
Despite the disappointment the Colts dig deep to finish strong. Kyle Dowarka takes his opportunity with the ball in hand to set off on a lung-busting locomotive charge, diagonally crossing the entire field from left wing to right wing, outpacing the Birkenhead defence and riding several tackles to score in the corner with 7 mins to go. Great try, but sadly too late to influence the result.
Inconsistency is handicapping the Colts progress. In 10 matches we are yet to name the same team twice. The players on the field are always unwavering in their effort, but improved focus and greater squad commitment will be required if the team is to advance. We get up, we go again. Eccles Colts next fixture is Home vs Whitchurch, Sunday 20th November, KO 2pm.
Post Script: This week Waterloo withdrew from the Colts League due to injuries and lack of committed players, the eighth team to do so since the start of the season.