After last week’s great escape against Northwich you would hope that the lads had learnt a few lessons, alas this was not to be the case. The visiting team from Fylde turned up with only 14 men and no front row players at all. This meant two things, uncontested scrums and the need to be gentle with them or we would be in a situation of dropping our own players if a Fylde lad went off.
From the off Eccles ignored the second piece of advice given and ploughed into the visitors with gusto and despite a period of pressure were unable to record any score. With all the directed aggression shown by the home side the inevitable happened with a Fylde player leaving the field due to an injury he had carried over from the day before. Now two things could have happened here, Eccles could have dropped a player and let the game go to 14 v 13, or they could lend the visitors a player to keep 15 Eccles lads on the field. To uphold the true spirit of colts rugby, and to show common sense did exist in the odd teenager, Kieran McNeish did the decent thing and put on a Fylde shirt to help out the visitors.
Having superior numbers and most of the possession Eccles started to show their frustration with not scoring with a series of everyone doing the wrong thing, i.e. going on their own and not using the extra man. Luckily they were eventually able to register something for all the effort with Wes Harrison scoring on the line.
To show that there was a game to be played Fylde came straight back from the restart with a try which made the whole Eccles side look like a bunch of statues. This gave the visitors a 5 – 7 lead. In response to the insult inflicted upon themselves the Eccles lads went straight back at Fylde this time and producing recycled ball Lee Morris was able to capitalise on Fylde’s weak defence and break through the ¾ line to score, Lee then kicked the extras to take the halftime score to 12 – 7 to Eccles.
Eccles started the second half in apparent control and a short line out on the halfway line presented Eccles with a pod move in midfield and gave Jordan O’Neil the opportunity to break free which he did with style running in to score from the halfway line. Lee Morris again converted.
Now 12 point leads aren’t good for this team and with too many missed tackles Fylde were able to come back with another converted try. With all the hard effort being put in by the visitors, yet again the inevitable happened and another Fylde player had to leave the field. This is one of the problems with having no replacements these days, it takes a hard toll on the lads you have. Again the dilemma regarding numbers was there for Eccles to face, this time Shaun Baines stout lad that he is stepped up to the mark as we all knew he would and put on a Fylde shirt.
Eccles then laid sigh to the Fylde line and with chances going begging opportunities appeared to be wasted. Then to add insult, with Fylde under pressure and the line beckoning a Fylde player intercepted what could have been a scoring pass for Eccles and ran almost the full length to score, this took the game to 19 – 21 to Fylde.
Well it was unlucky and unjust but also self inflicted. So it’s how players can respond to such events that show their true character and respond they did. Eccles went straight at them again and showing their intent instead of kicking a regulation penalty just outside the visitors 22 an attacking lineout was chosen. From the lineout close to the visitor’s line Reece James broke blind to score and give Eccles a 24 – 21 lead. Lee Morris was unlucky with the conversion hitting the post.
With minutes to go Eccles kept the visitors deep inside their own half and were eventually rewarded with a penalty which Lee Morris kicked at the second attempt. This brought the final whistle and a 27 – 21 win for Eccles.
A deserved win, made hard by doing a lot of wrong things but plenty of team spirit, character and determination to make up for it. Well done to Fylde, not just for the game they gave us, which they did, but mainly for travelling short, we know it’s hard, we’ve been there ourselves. But most of all well done to Kieran McNeish and Shaun Baines for showing what Eccles is all about and helping out the Fylde team. Without their selflessness the game would have deteriorated to 13 v 12 with 4 lads standing next to Billy on the touch line. It’s what colts rugby should be all about, not winning pots but giving as many lads as possible as much play time as possible and learning that rugby is not just about your team. It’s not the first time, by far, that we’ve done it and I’m damned sure it won’t be the last. I could say more about others but I’d be back on the naughty step with young Tim.
Just one final word on the matter to Kieran & Shaun, when playing for the oppo side you don’t have to play your skins out you know. You made me proud and Carolyn would have shed a tear if she hadn’t been off in her little tax haven.
Well they never made a sequel to The Great Escape, but these lads appear to have created their own franchise. Now how does it go, der der der – der derrr der der der.