No Eccles Under 14’s side ever enters the field without a real desire to win, but there are certain fixtures in the calendar that everyone looks at and says quietly to themselves (or shouts Danielle) “we have to win that one”! Sedgley Park is unquestionably one of those fixtures.
Sedgley Park welcomed Eccles in this Blacksticks fixture on a gloriously sunny November morning off the back of some indifferent results that had been capped by a good win last week against Altrincham Kersal. Eccles on the other hand had had a good round robin event against Heaton Moor and Marple and came to this fixture with confidence running high throughout the team.
Sedgley Park got the game under way with a good kick that was gathered by the Eccles forwards who immediately forced Sedgley Park back in to their own half. An early break from ever more impressive outside centre Brad P had Sedgley Park on the rails but the ball was turned over and cleared with a very clumsy kick that was easily collected by David S who found himself with time on the ball – so much time that I thought he was going to light himself a cigar before tucking the ball under his arm and driving at the Sedgley Park pack. Eccles rucked and recycled the ball which eventually landed in the hands of Alex Hardman who held the ball up as the Eccles pack forced the ball over the try line only to be thwarted by good Sedgley Park defence who held the ball up well. Undeterred Eccles regrouped at the scrum and a combination of quick thinking and fast hands saw the ball passed out from Mathew to Brad and wide to Rob S who warmed his legs up with a leisurely jog past the Sedgley Park back line to score in the corner on 10 minutes. 0 – 5. A very difficult conversion was put wide of the posts.
This was a great start from Eccles who had had the majority of possession and were deserving of the lead however a lapse in concentration saw Sedgley Park equalise with a try two minutes later but the conversion was missed. 5 – 5
The restart saw Chea C collecting the ball from Matt’s kick and driving at the Sedgley Park full back. More great pressure from Eccles as they push Sedgley Park deeper into their own half but the ball is turned over and Sedgley Park break to score a second and then a third quick try, the latter being successfully converted. 17 – 5. How is this happening? Eccles are by far the more dominant of the sides and have been passing the ball incredibly well to this point.
An Eccles scrum shortly after the restart sees the ball moved quickly from Dan A to Matthew to Chea who takes a couple of big hits but his strength sends the Sedgley Park defence tumbling like skittles. Brad appears on the overlap which Chea reacts to with a superbly timed pass which Brad collects and holding off a number of Sedgley Park players puts the ball down for a well deserved second Eccles try on 25 minutes. The conversion went close but didn’t register 17 – 10.
Sedgley Park get the game restarted and the ball lands near Chea. I’m not sure what Chea did or didn’t do at this point but the clip shows Coach Kevin shouting Chea such that I think he almost hurt himself http://youtu.be/vQhqikWnQCU
Matthew L collects the ball and drives at the Sedgley Park forwards. Again the strength of the Eccles side is prominent as Josh G picks up the lose ball and pushes Sedgley Park deep into their own half which comes to a close with the scores at 17 – 10.
Half time changes for Eccles with an injured Dan G, Max R and Joel A making way for Elliott H, Lewis K and Joseph (Joey Eccles) R
Eccles get the second half started with a kick that is collected by the Sedgley Park fly half who breaks wide and runs straight in to the tackling combination of Joe R and Jack W – crunch! Sedgley Park have the ball again and a diagonal run across the field is not defended well by Eccles and Sedgley Park score and convert the 1st try of the second half to put the score at 24 – 10 within the 1st five minutes.
Eccles win possession from the restart with some fine work from Alex T. Working as a solid unit the Eccles forwards gain ground and Sedgley Park again find themselves defending within their own 5 metre line. The ball is recycled time after time after time by the Eccles pack with the ball eventually being passed inside to Chea who crashes though the Sedgley Park last lines of defence to score a third Eccles try which he celebrates by picking up Dan A and in a move from WWE Raw slams Dan in to the turf. Chea is now banned from eating Smarties before or during a game.
Matthew W shows his kicking ability by converting the try to leave the score at 24 – 17.
15 minutes in and buoyed by his recent try Chea collects the ball deep in his own half and charges 50 metres before being tackled by a shell shocked Sedgley Park defence. A slow follow up by Eccles leads to the ball being turned over but good work from Alex T soon had the ball back in Eccles hands and the duo of Matthew and Brad ensured that when Rob eventually received the ball there was no stopping him as he raced through to score Eccles 5th try under the posts. Another high pressure conversion was successfully despatched by Matthew to leave the score at 24 -24 and Sedgley Park chins on the turf. This is something Sedgley Park hadn’t prepared for!
Alex T who had been outstanding all match had to leave the field with a head injury and this along with a ‘chin up lads’ rally from the Sedgley Park coaching staff lifted the home side and on 22 minutes they scored again but couldn’t extend the lead as the conversion fell short. 29 – 24
Nerves were beginning to show on the Sedgley Park team as Eccles pushed them back again deep into their own half, but Sedgley Park countered and had Eccles on the back foot defending a strong Sedgley Park position beneath the Eccles posts. Sedgley Park hearts must have sunk when they saw Alex T shake off his ‘soft tissue injury’ and rejoin the scrum. Great work from the Sedgley Park pack saw them break through and go over in the corner but incredible defending from Eccles (sorry – I missed the players name) meant the ball could not be grounded and Eccles regained possession and the momentum.
Some of the best passing and movement all game saw Eccles press forward in the closing minutes as Sedgley Park were pushed ever closer to their own try line. A credit to the determination of the Eccles boys not to give up on a game that they had dominated from the 1st minute.
In almost the final passage of play Eccles found themselves within reach of the Sedgley Park try line but resolute defending from the exhausted home team seemed certain to steal the victory from Eccles. A scrum, a ruck and a ball via Matthew and Brad released the lightning quick Rob wide to complete his hat trick of tries and secure a fantastic victory for Eccles. The conversion was missed but at 29 – 29 Eccles had put to bed the run of poor results against local rivals Sedgley Park and look forward to welcoming them to Eccles early in 2015.
What a game and what a fantastic turn around from where the lads were in this fixture last season – a fantastic achievement and credit must be given to all the players and coaching staff who have without question took the tiger by the tail and put it safely back in its cage today
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad
Daniel A, Joel A, Chea C, Joshua G, Alex H, Elliott H, Brad P, Joe R, Max R, David S, Robert S, Alex T, Albert T, Matthew W, Jack W, Daniel G, Matthew L, Lewis K
Half Time Score 17-10
Full Time Score 29-29 (Eccles win)
Eccles Man of the Match
Players Choice – Alex T
Coach Choice – Chea C
Parents Choice – Brad P
Robert S – how do you score a hat trick of tries and not get a MoM
Eccles forwards for working so well together and making a hard fought victory look easy
One try each for Brad P & Chea C and three for Robert S
Matthew W 2 Conversions
Coach James for encroaching on the pitch (somewhere between 2 yards and 10 metres depending on who you ask)
My laptop for auto correcting Sedgley Park to Sedately Park throughout this report