Disheartening defeat for diminished Colts.

WHITCHURCH SNR COLTS 39 – 12 ECCLES SNR COLTS 15/01/17

Last week a squad of 21 saw the Eccles Colts compete and achieve victory against the League leaders. Seven days later, with seven forwards missing, the Colts could only muster 13 players to travel to Shropshire and subsequently suffer a disheartening defeat in dismal weather against a well-organised opponent with a full bench.

The match was played with uncontested scrums from the kick off.  Eccles enjoyed a good share of possession in opening 10 minutes, but with the advantage of an additional player, Whitchurch successfully pin their visitors into their own half. With cold hands and wet, muddy conditions, knock ons are regular features of play for both teams. At 15 minutes Eccles recognise the space on the flanks and break up the left through winger Ben Moseley. With quick support the ball is recycled, Fly-Half and captain Leon Simpson cuts infield, chips over the advancing defensive line towards the right corner, winger Matt Hope chases and dives to get his hands first on the rolling ball. Try. 15 minutes 0-5.

Whitchurch restart and set up camp in the Eccles 22 for the next 10 minutes; their sustained pressure earns them multiple penalties in central positions. A Whitchurch scrum on the right, 15m out, leads to a good break out the back by the number 8 and an equalising try near the posts; converted. 22 minutes 7-5.

The home team gain momentum. Whitchurch want it more than Eccles and play with greater unity, urgency, alertness, aggression. A kick over the Eccles defence to the corner is gathered by Matt H but is isolated with little support; the resulting penalty hits the post but with Eccles struggling to escape their own half, another Whitchurch penalty shortly after is landed. 10-5.

Eccles respond but promising attacks, possession and positions are squandered through errors: From an Eccles advancement up the left wing, the ball is repeatedly fumbled backwards down field and results in a Whitchurch turnover and try; converted. 17-5.  Eccles win a scrum 15m from the Whitchurch goal line, and break out of the back only to loose possession, the resulting counter attack leads to a Whitchurch try at the other end of the pitch; converted. Whistle blows. HT 25-5.

Eccles use the break to refocus and begin the second half with renewed resolve and commitment. 5 minutes after the restart Ben M uses pace and agility down the left wing to finish a good passing move with a try; converted by Leon slotting home a beautiful kick in wind. 40 mins 25-12.

Unfortunately this is the end of the resurgence for Eccles. Despite several more attacks and sustained pressure in the Whitchurch 22, their defence remained resolute. Things begin to unravel badly around 50 minutes when Ben Moseley suffered a blow to the head driving for the line and leaves the field with suspected concussion. 5 minutes later, as Eccles attack in front of the posts, Matt Small is nailed as he receives a pass, suffering a blow to his head and also departs the field. As the rain pours down, Eccles show great spirit and continue the game with 11 remaining players and two forwards loaned from the Whitchurch bench – a sporting gesture that does the hosts great credit.

In the final 15 minutes Eccles continue to press and have two more attempted tries stopped just short of the goal line. The Colts’ determination to score, combined with a lack of bodies however leaves them susceptible to counter attack: With the Whitchurch defence concentrated on the left goal line, a long flighted pass out to the right wing for what looks like a certain Eccles try is intercepted by the boot of the defender; a 90m kick and chase ensues back towards the Eccles line and despite Damola’s best lung-busting efforts to regain the ball, Whitchurch score. 32-12.  Eccles attack again up the right flank, but loose possession and a 60m sprint in the reverse direction results in another Whitchurch try; converted.  FT 39-19

Our congratulations to Whitchurch and our appreciation for accommodating our low numbers and bringing a jug of beer to the changing room after the match. Thanks also to our Antipodean Referee Mr Reid from the Bristol Society who officiated with great authority, clarity and good humour.

The Colts toiled but struggled to find sure footing in this game. We began both halves strongly but ran out of steam and undoubtedly would’ve benefited from a full team sheet and a few fresh replacements.  We clearly missed the heavy guns in the challenging conditions and, lacking numbers, we were not able make full use of our speed on the wide pitch. Not for the first time this season, we got the bit between our teeth in the second period but were unable to close the points gap created mostly by our own mistakes in a messy first half. A disappointing defeat, two injuries and not many positives to bring home from our 100-mile round trip.

Onwards.

Eccles Colts next fixture is away vs Wilmslow, Sunday 22nd Jan, KO 2pm.