Lancashire County U18 Joe McDonough Colts Trophy, 29th October 2017.
Last Sunday, Eccles succeeded in assembling a Senior Colts team to honour their fixture in the Lancashire U18s Trophy. Full credit to all the lads who made a commitment to play. Since February (the last time many of them were on the same field together) the Eccles U18s have lost four talented players to other clubs, three more county-standard players were missing due to injury, and many of the remaining colts are no longer able to train mid week or play at weekends due to employment. Undeterred by this situation the players themselves recruited new team mates from Rugby League and combined with the U17s who contributed eight players to the squad. Sadly, Eccles’ valiant effort was to be no match for the Rossendale team, who were a well organised, more cohesive outfit. The visitor’s advantage of familiarity and match practise was further supported by speed in their backline, something Eccles struggled to combat.
Both teams began with ferocious tackling and aggressive defence. Rossendale broke the deadlock scoring the opening try down the left wing via their fast fullback; 5 minutes later following a scrum the same player was put through to score a second try. Eccles dominated possession for the next 10 minutes, battering away at Rossendale’s defence. A clearing kick upfield was collected by Eccles fullback Tim Cullen, who was then clattered with a late charge, leaving Rossendale free to collect the loose ball and release their fullback once again into an open flank, unopposed, to score his hat-trick try. Josh Houghton replaced the injured Cullen; Dan Aspinall replaced injured Hooker Dave Smith, Kieron Reed replaced injured no.8 Liam Thornley. Eccles responded. Joe Gaffey was unfortunate not to break through with a P&G following a scrum inside the Rossendale 22. The resulting drive by the forwards was stopped on the line and the ball stolen back and cleared. On the stoke of half time Rossendale added a fourth try moving the ball along their back line following a line out. With the score at 0-22, 4 players injured, and nothing going Eccles way, least of all the match official’s decisions, the break could not come soon enough.
A half time team talk and change of approach appeared to galvanise the colts. George Duckworth replaced the injured Harry Candland on the wing. Eccles began the second half with a fire in their belly; The forwards had dominated the opposition pack in the scrum and now began to make determined driving attacks through the middle, using the pods to good effect to retain the ball, pinning Rossendale into their 22. Eccles were soon rewarded with a try by Captain Ed Mather from the base of a ruck, converted by Matt Walker. With momentum shifting, Eccles continued their pressure on the visitor’s defence. Dillon Carter and Josh Kilby were both stopped short of the line. Kieron Reed played with authority at number 8 and was unlucky not to score from the base of the scrum. The fightback was short-lived. Rossendale regained their composure with a penalty – a deep clearance kick to touch and a well-executed move off a line out 10m from the Eccles goal line led to thier 5th try.
Motivated by some unnecessary goading, Eccles took the game to Rossendale. Mather was denied on the line attempting a bold carbon copy of his first try. From a penalty just outside their 22, Matt Walker fed Damola Ayanlaja who thundered towards the posts before offloading a lofted pass out wide to prop John Nicholson who powered through defenders over the line with the ball only to be denied the try by the referee for a ‘double-movement’. The all-out offensive did not pay off as the visitors proceeded to score from two back-to-back counter-attacks- the first beginning directly from an Eccles attack, with a Rossendale player picking up a loose ball in his own in-goal area, wriggling free of several tackles on the wing and offloading the ball to a team mate to run it home up the other end of the pitch under the posts. Conagh Blake replaced Shea Skillicorn at centre and Matt Lee replaced the relentless Mather in the back row who had to retire with injury. Josh Houghton and Josh Green both broke free with the ball but were stopped by strong tackling. Eccles displayed good character and perseverance, attacking and battling until the final whistle, but the last 15 minutes saw no further scores and the game ended 7-41.
Rossendale’s resilient defence, speed of support and fast backs provided the visitors with a deserved victory, in what was – apart from the unwelcome verbal exchanges towards the end of the game – a good spirited, competitive, combative contest. The Eccles players awarded their man of the match to the triple-try scoring Rossendale flying fullback.
Many thanks to Andy Waring, Dave Nichols and Sean Baines for their assistance at short notice and to the U17s for the loan of their kit.
More match photos at @EcclesColts
The U17s return to their Colts League fixtures on Sunday, at Home to Ormskirk KO 12:30, whilst the U18s return to Call of Duty and Tinder (probably)
10 mins TRY Rossendale, unconverted 0-5
15 mins TRY Rossendale, unconverted 0-10
32 mins TRY Rossendale, unconverted 0-15
34 mins TRY Rossendale, converted 0-22
40 mins TRY Eccles (Mather), converted (Walker) 7-22
46 mins TRY Rossendale, converted 7-29
53 mins TRY Rossendale, converted 7-36
57 mins TRY Rossendale, unconverted 7-41
- Josh Green
- David Smith
- John Nicholson
- Dillon Carter
- Chris Thomas
- Joe Gaffey
- Ed Mather (c)
- Liam Thornley
- Harry Candland
- Matt Walker
- Josh Kilby
- Damola Ayanlaja
- Shea Skillicorn
- Matt Hope
- Tim Cullen
- Conagh Blake
- Matt Lee
- Kieron Reed
- Dan Aspinall
- George Duckworth
- Josh Houghton