It was an early start for the Eccles squad on a cold (and unusually dry) Sunday morning. Looking fine in their new kit and winter coats the boys were keen to impress their new sponsors. And impress they did… What a match it turned out to be!
The visitors to Gorton Street looked imposing and in good form. I’m not sure what they feed them down at Sale but some of those lads were big. Even their own heavy hitters were dwarfed by the size of their number 17 who would prove to be a significant threat if not tackled correctly.
Having previously knocked Sale out of the Rossendale tournament after a close 4-3 victory, the opposition were hungry for revenge. It wasn’t going to be an easy game…
With the visitors starting the game the ball went straight to their massive forward who launched an attack with the momentum of a freight train. The Eccles defence, looking undaunted, avoided the head-on collision and put him into touch to claim possession of the ball.
Ollie ably tried an attack up the wing, gaining half the pitch, only to be pushed off the pitch himself. With both teams having reminded themselves where the side lines were, the battle moved to the centre field. After some deft handling by the Sale boys, their #17 gained possession and charged through (with defenders bouncing off him) to make the first score of the day. 1-0 to Sale.
From the restart, Sale soon found the ball again and showed us some of their speed this time. Deftly making it up the field, it looked like it could be another try in the making, but a take-down by Ethan brought the ball back into Eccles’ possession.
Some great back and forth passing from the combo of Jack and Anni saw them make it to within two metres of the try line before an unlucky forward pass. Anni regained the ball after the scrum and looked to make a pass. Surrounded by the opposition, she has no choice but to force it through five Sale players on her own to score the first equaliser. 1-1
Sale continued to pile on the pressure and bring the game to the Eccles line. It was hard fought, denying them a score time and again, but eventually they made it through. 2-1 to Sale.
Evan made a good run up the middle gaining valuable ground. As the Sale team descended upon him, he made a perfectly timed pass to Carter. Seeing weakness in their wing, Carter passed the pill out to Adam P to exploit their error, who made a speedy dash up the last 10m of the wing to leave the score equal at 2-2.
Jonny in receipt of the occasional ball on the wing put in some hard work to break through but found his side of the pitch fiercely guarded by the opposition. Despite the valiant efforts of Finn F and Lucas putting up a staunch defence, Sale eventually make it over the line to put them one up again. 3-2 to Sale.
In the final minute of the first half, the Sale boys regained possession. Adam P danced through the Sale defence on the wing only to be taken down just before the line. With another of the Eccles speedsters hot on his heels in support, Joseph grabs the ball and dives for the try line to end the half equal on 3-3.
The second half continued the same point for point matching between the teams, neither side willing to concede.
Some lovely attacking play by Scott and Adam C saw possession change back and forth until Sale’s speedy #22 found space on wing and outran the team to put them ahead 4-3.
A good, strong run by Bailey looked like the start of a potential try for him and had the Sale team in disarray. Unfortunately he was marked by their behemoth, #17, who’s crunching tackle left a Bailey-shaped hole in the soft turf. With Matthew close behind him in support, he was in the perfect position to pick up the free ball and clear the last few meters to equalise yet again on 4-4.
From the restart, Finn M and Alfie got stuck in providing some lovely ball recovery and keeping the advantage with Eccles. The centerfield remained hard fought until the fast Sale #22 ripped the ball and found a clear wing again to make it 5-4 to Sale.
A dummy pass by Matthew enabled him to outmanoeuvre their faster defenders and get the ball deep into the heart of the Sale pack. With the rest of the team at his back he’s driven forward to collapse over the try line for the fifth equaliser in the game!
Shortly after, the Sale fast attack threatened to break through but some great defending by Shayne cut them short.
Another of Matthew’s trademark dummies got him deep into Sale territory again before being taken down. In some great supporting play, Sohan grabbed the ball and drove it onwards, so so close to the try line. With the threat of Eccles taking the lead a frenetic Sale defence managed to regain possession and play headed back towards our try line as their #22 ran most of the length of the pitch. Fortunately he’s tackled at the last second by Adam P, but #22 wasn’t going to give up. Getting back on his feet he made for the line again, but Adam P was not going to let go forcing Sale to drop the ball.
Again, the ball travels up and down our try line during another bout of manic defence, but eventually Sale make it through to put them ahead 6-5.
With victory in their grasp and Sale spectators trying to call time, Ollie takes advantage of Sale’s exhaustion and slipped in a cheeky 6th for Eccles to make it 6-6 at the whistle.
But that’s not all… call it a 3rd half, or a decider, both teams were still eager for more….
After a hard fought match so far, stamina depleted, the Eccles boys’ defensive line was slowing down. No longer running up to meet the charging Sale, the opposition were being given free ground. With less ground and time to defend, Sale make it through the middle to go one up yet again. 7-6 to Sale.
Could Eccles equalise for the seventh time today? After an exchange of wingers being pushed into touch, Matthew manages to outwit the opposition again with yet another dummy (he’s got more dummies than Mothercare!) to break through and score another equaliser. 7-7!
Scores level once more, the game was anyone’s, but Ethan decided to upset the apple cart by ripping the ball from a Sale attacker and claiming a try for himself, putting Eccles ahead for the first time in the match. 8-7 Eccles!!
With Eccles feeling jubilant, Sale were soon on the attack again with their big #17 running down the wing while Eccles look on. 8-8!!!
With the tries continuing to come thick and fast, Max showed his strength as he drove down the pitch oblivious to fact he was being jumped on repeatedly by the Sale team trying to get him on the floor.
Eventually, the big Sale #17 makes a last ditch run with the ball looking unstoppable. Only this time he didn’t count on Anni demonstrating a perfect example of how even the biggest players can’t run if you bind their legs together. The final try was also claimed by Anni making the final score 9-8; a glorious win for Eccles!!!
(1) Bailey, (3) Maxwell, (4) Carter, (5) Jack, (6) Evan, (7) Ollie, (8) Adam P, (9) Anni, (10) Scott, (11) Ethan, (12) Johnny, (13) Finn M, (14) Adam C, (15) Lucas, (16) Finn F, (17) Joseph, (18) Alfie, (19) Sohan, (21) Shayne, (22) Matthew, and Liam.
A much better performance from the kids this weekend!
They avoided getting involved in the ‘stand-up wrestling’ contests as we did against Fylde, but we still need to concentrate on ball presentation in the rucks, as well as body positioning in the tackle zone.
THAT said, the attitude, commitment and effort from the U10s was magnificent!
They would NOT make it easy for their opponents and with a little more emphasis on making the ball work and shipping it along the line of supporting players… we will comfortably overcome teams in the future.
Big thanks go to:
- match referee, Paul Thorpe (1st team coach and senior committee bigwig), for a fluid and entertaining game;
- our new sponsor, Hi-Way Components (hi-waycomponents.co.uk), for the great new kit; and
- the parents, urging their team to victory!
Another big test next Sunday 14th Feb AWAY at Bolton. 11.00am KO