Eccles 3rd 53 v Didsbury Toc H 4th 52 19/11/2016

I would like to say it was a 105 point thriller but my proboscis is a match for Pinocchio enough to comment that it was much enjoyed by players and entertaining in an odd sort of way due to the circumstance of both teams having only 10 players each at start of the match which was further reduced very quickly as on of the visitors departed after a clash of heads with own player. Whereupon Eccles agreed to carry on the game as 9 aside retaining the extra man as rolling sub .The 3rds started well pressing forward but on losing possession the first time conceded a 60m try  (0-7) but soon hit back after a several passages of play Riddick Manaye went over with debutant Alex Hollingsworth converting (7-7 ) .A charge down by Dave Cusick saw Alex feed Adam Austin to score (12-7) but an immediate  try response made it 12-14 .Back in the visitors half a penalty again saw Austin tap and go to touchdown(17-14 and then a switch pass by Alex to John Brookes saw him go over in the corner (24-14) Unfortunately John objected to a perceived late hit in the act of scoring and carried on his protest to the referee which incurred a penalty restart for Toc who took it quickly and raced through under the posts (24-21) and then poured salt in wound with a further try to lead 28-24 at the interval . On resumption of play a chip and regather saw the Toc  extended to 53-24 .A neat ploy of putting prop Andy Coop at scrum half for one scrum worked out(it had been uncontested scrums from the start ) for he picked up and trundled over from close  range (31-35) Another scrum saw short passes create the gap for Riddick to add his second try (38-35).Back in front Eccles set up a rolling maul from Adam Austin popped out spun and raced away for  his hat trick with Alex adding his 3rd successful conversion of the half (45-35) The restart was both horror and comedy as Brookes fumbled the kick off in own 22 and then through the ball down in disgust anticipating referees whistle but a Toc attacker caught the ball as it bounced to up saunter bemusedly under posts to score  with conversion hitting the bar .(45-40) .It could have been worse an another kick upfield nearly spelled a try for Toc only for Jason Davies to race back to save the situation and galling for them a rolling maul saw Austin sneak up the blindside to add his fourth try .(50-40) .Then came the late drama a Toc rallied with smart handling move to score (50-47) and then causing Eccles to lose the ball and snatch a try but once more hit the bar with conversion (50-52) .With minutes left the 3rds were back in the visitors 22 causing  a Toc penalty offence which was nearly tapped quickly but cooler heads prevailed and Hollingsworth kicked it (53-52) .There was nearly a sting in tail as from the kick off the Eccles and gather and clearance kick went straight to Toc player but the thirds managed to hole out for victory.The scoring pattern resembled a game of a basketball but it was unlike a game of sevens as both sides did actually find it hard to create space unsurprising in the 3rds case as 7 of the 10 in action were forwards but  odder in the case of Toc who had the faster and younger men that they did adopt a more kick and chase approach . The referee deserves credit for keeping the game going as such “open” play with fewer static moments meant it was a little feisty at time . Credit to all the players especially to the forwards for whom it was a hard slog with Andy Littleford unlucky to miss out on debut try after touchline surge for foot in touch and Ben Prince  whose non stop forward drives were noticed (he was a little miffed that earlier in the season despite such efforts at Spartans it was only his spanking in the post match repartee that were mentioned ) The Scribe is like a referee the sole arbirter of fact one has to crack the code and learn the lessons a point hopefully taken on board by Brooksy who gets the bum note of the match (a double raspberry) for his fits of pique. As for maestro of the match a lot choose from in slimmed down field with Hollingsworth in open play and kicking showing up well but you cannot look past the four tries for flanker Adam Austin for the award and congratulations to his tailor for those long pockets,