ROCHDALE SENIOR COLTS 62 – 12 ECCLES SENIOR COLTS 15/03/17
On Wednesday evening, under Rochdale’s floodlights, the Eccles U18 Colts’ season came to a conclusion with another loss. Having started the new year positively, with a 21-player turn out for a tremendous Home win against Birkenhead, diminishing numbers and four consecutive away defeats since have seen the Colts slide to the bottom of League C (a fate that would’ve been avoided if Sefton had not been removed from the competition for failure to fulfil fixtures). Five weekends without games since January have not helped the Colts momentum, and the experience away at Macclesfield three weeks ago featuring two red cards was a low point for all involved.
Following a reversal of venue due to the Gorton Street pitches being unplayable, Rochdale enjoyed home advantage with a large number of enthusiastic supporters and a full bench of players to draw upon. Eccles kicked off with just 11 players, 10 of whom were forwards and spent long periods of the first half in their own half and without the ball.
Having a wide pitch and speed on their side Rochdale were 4 tries up within 30 minutes succeeding down the flanks where they had numerical advantage. Eccles suffered disheartening counter attacks and tries scored straight from restarts; many players had to embrace unfamiliar positions, but despite these set backs the conduct, attitude, belief and work rate of the whole team, was superb. The tenacity and determination of Mike Shaw and Joe Gaffey in particular was commendable. To their credit, the Colts battled until the end, and were rewarded with two terrific tries in the second half on the right flank scored by Matt Small and John Nicholson; converted by Mike.
The final scoreline did not reflect the commitment, character or effort of those on the field wearing the blue hooped shirt. A result to forget, but a memorable performance to complete a difficult season, played in the right spirit, with outstanding defiance and dogged obstinacy; one I was proud to witness and appreciated by all who were there.
2016 / 2017 SEASON ROUND UP
To survive the season with all your fixtures fulfilled may not sound like much of an achievement, but Eccles have succeeded where Preston Grasshoppers, Manchester, Warrington, Waterloo, Liverpool Collegiate, Sefton and many other clubs have failed. As those around them have given up, lost interest, faded away, the Eccles Senior Colts have endured.
In total the Colts played 19 games: L L L L L L W L W L L L W L W L L L L scoring 300 points in all competitions, with 591 points against. Discipline has been poor with 14 Yellow and 2 Red cards amassed. Victories were few but noteworthy – Rochdale 27-31, Sefton 20-18, Macclesfield 34-45, Birkenhead 28-19. The margins of loss were often narrow in the early season 22-30, 29-22, 12-13, 10-13 but increased as the season went on and numbers reduced.
The Colts began with a combined U17s and U18s squad of 30, but by Christmas were struggling to field 15 players. Injuries, concussions and college fixtures for some certainly played a part in this, but the greatest influence on availability was Sunday employment. This inconsistency has meant that all 19 fixtures have featured a different starting team.
Appearances – Fin Cox 19, Joe Gaffey 18, Cameron Higgingbottom (C) 17, Damola Ayanlaja-Lowo 17, Chris Thomas 17, Harry Meila 16, Kyle Dowarka 16, Zak Brooker 15, Kayne McNally 15, Mike Shaw 13, Josh Waring 13, Matt Hope 13, Matt Small 12, Josh Kilby 12, Edward Mather 12, Antony McNally 11, John Nicholson 9, Dillon Carter 8, Louis Ayre 8, Rory McGrath 7, Tim Cullen 7, Leon Simpson 7, Reece Walker 6, Adam Christey 5, Callum Baines 3, Connor James 2, Ben Moseley 2, Zak Dalkin-Whelan 2, Prince Moyo 2, Josh Houghton 2.
Try scorers – Leon Simpson 11, Mike Shaw 9, Damola Ayanlaja-Lowo 5, Zak Brooker 5, Reece Walker 4, Kyle Dowarka 3, Ben Moseley 3, Louis Ayre 3, Cameron Higgingbottom (C) 2, Matt Hope 2, Chris Thomas 2, Joe Gaffey 1, Matt Small 1, John Nicholson 1, Tim Cullen 1, Callum Baines 1.
Top tacklers (Colts League Nov-Mar) – Joe Gaffey 109, Matt Small 64, Fin Cox 58, Cameron Higgingbottom 50, Harry Melia 45, Chris Thomas 43, John Nicholson 42, Josh Waring 40, Zak Brooker 38, Kyle Dowarka 36, Mike Shaw 36.
Five Eccles Colts were selected to represent Lancashire County – Callum Baines, Leon Simpson, Reece Walker, Connor James, Ben Moseley.
NEXT CHALLENGE FOR THE COLTS
Training continues with the Senior players on Wednesday evenings 19:00- 20:30.
The coaches encourage the U18s to make themselves available for selection in the Eccles Senior teams. For U17 players, we plan to organise a few local friendlies over the next month; Colts League registration for next season will take place in May and the intention is to merge with the U16s form a new U18s Senior Colts team.
The coaches also encourage the squad to attend the Eccles RFC Senior Player’s awards, on Friday 5th May. Callum Baines and his beautiful assistant Cameron Higgingbottom are organising this team gathering and collecting monies. We wish them the best of luck.