The first game of the new season brought rivals Sedgley Park as the visitors. Ex-Eccles U9 player, Robert, now with Sedgley also returned to face his old team mates. It was also great to see ex-coach, George returning to ref the game and give the boys some gentle guidance in his own imitable style!
It was a lovely warm sunny day and the boys were looking forward to getting the season under way with a winning start, after weeks of training and preparation. After only a few minutes, it appeared that we had a few heads left behind on pillows, as Sedgley picked their way through the Eccles defence to score the game’s opening try.
However, it wasn’t long before Eccles restored parity, Will B picking up a loose ball on the left wing and leaving Sedgley players in his wake as he raced over the line. Eccles heads were up. Joe produced a good run, before being dispossessed, and Connor forced his way through the Sedgley backline, only to be denied by some strong tackling.
However, it was Sedgley who scored the next try to take what we thought would be a 2 tries to 1 lead, but the ball was placed behind the touchline and the try was disallowed – that’s the first decision George has given for us in ages!
That was the wake-up call that the boys needed, Jake going on a great run, and Duncan using his strength to leave Sedgley dragging at his heels. Luke F then put Eccles ahead, another great run and diving over the line which was met with great cheers from the home crowd. Henry then had to pull out all the stops to prevent an equalising try just before half time by pushing the forward out of play just yards from the touchline.
Sedgley started the second half strongly as they pushed for an equaliser, but Finley and Henry again prevented tries with some last ditch tackling. However, with Sedgley winning a scrum just 10 yards out, the boys switched off and Sedgley stole in to level the scores.
Eccles upped their game and should have gone in front after some great work from Will R, but the ball was dropped on the line. A scrappy 5 minutes then followed, before George put Eccles back in front. Henry then had a great run and was pushed out of play just before he was about to place the ball down. Then Finley put some distance between the two teams with a brilliant try, taking the ball from Jake‘s pass from the scrum. With a 20-10 lead, Eccles were looking good, but Eccles again let the Sedgley forwards take advantage of some sloppy defending to pull the score back again to 20-15 (4 tries to 3).
Some great determined running from Harry and Luke H created another opportunity for Luke F to run at the Sedgley defence and he scored again, doing brilliantly to put the ball down as he fell backwards under the weight of a tackle on the line. Harvey was enjoying getting stuck into the Sedgley players and seemed to really enjoy his first game, and Matthew was doing some great work with some fine running and tackling.
Henry capped a brilliant display with a solo try with the last move of the match. Henry was dogged and determined all match and thoroughly deserved the Man of the Match award.
A winning start to the season, well done boys.
Result: Eccles 30 – 15 Sedgley
Match squad: Joe, George, Jake, Will B, Will R, Finley, Harry, Luke H, Luke F, Connor, Matthew, Henry, Harvey, Duncan.