A much depleted Eccles squad made the short journey round the M60 to face an equally understrength Sale side. The early mist was being burnt off by the hazy sunshine on a perfect spring morning and with the cones laid out on the Sale Sharks training pitch 22 area, what more could you ask for.
Both teams only had 6 players available and an initial 10 minutes each way was agreed, with the option of a further period.
Team: Charlie, Jack, Josh, Lewis, Lucas and Mikey
Sale started with the ball and with the Eccles defence not yet awake, quickly made the yards on a short pitch to score and take the lead. From the restart some neat offloading gave Charlie the space to scythe through the Sale defence cross the line under the attention of a Sale defender but pass the ball to the supporting Josh for the try.
Sale restarted and the dangerous winger plundered another try from the first pass. Eccles did not seem to be at the races in defence and Sale regained the lead!
Eccles were much better in attack. From the restart Lewis took the ball on the burst and then the quick offload to Josh passing to Charlie to step of his LEFT foot and cross the line touching down this time to level the match again.
This time from the restart the Eccles defence stepped up to the plate, snuffing out the Sale attack and forcing a turnover ball. A storming Lewis took the ball at speed requiring 4 defenders to take him down, quick ball gave Jack space on the wing to score and put Eccles in front for the first time in the match.
The restart saw the Eccles defence on top again and the turnover allowed Lucas to skip through the Sale defence to get on the score sheet. In two similar passages of play, the Eccles defence held firm again and the turnovers gave both Charlie and Lucas the opportunity to double their personal tallies.
Half Time: Sale 2 – 6 Eccles
At the start of the second half it was Sale’s turn to force a turnover. A missed tackle allowed Sale to score their third. Charlie responded with his third before Sale score again. Any thoughts of a comeback were laid to rest with Jack scoring his second and the impressive Lewis barged over carrying most of the Sale team.
Jack, who had had a quiet first half moved more into the middle of the park and it immediately paid dividends. A drive from Mikey followed by quick ball from Josh found him in space allowing him to sprint away to complete his hatrick. Sale pressed again but were forced back by a knock on from Jack after an attempted interception. Sale should have learned from that as moments later, whilst Sale were just metres from the Eccles line a loose pass and Jack intercepted to go the full length of the field.
An error from the restart gave the ball back to Eccles and three quick passes instigated by Josh allowed Lewis to score again.
More excellent tackling provided a turnover from which Josh unselfishly put Jack through a gap to score the easiest of tries.
Sale to their credit did not give up and in the try of the game, a Sale man showed great strength to drive through the heart of the Eccles defence to touch down
Final Score: Sale 5 – 13 Eccles (Jack 5, Charlie 3, Lewis 2, Lucas 2, Josh)
This week MOTM was really difficult to pick. Three players stood out for three different reasons. Lewis was up for the game from the start, taking the ball at speed and requiring three and four players to take him down each time. The Freight Train was back with a vengeance!
The second stand out performer was Josh but not for his trademark tackling but rather his distribution, passing and support. Throughout the whole match he was on the shoulder of the runner but more importantly he was looking to pass and play a man through the gap and into space. Jack benefitted from this numerous times. This, for me, is the first time any of the players have actively passed the ball for the benefit of the team WITHOUT being told/prompted. This is one of the main things we have been working on in training and is really pleasing to see.
The third and final standout performer, who gains my man of the match is Charlie. Captain for the day, he lead by example and was in the thick of things throughout the whole match. At one point he made/was involved in all 6 tackles in a particular set. He was always looking for the ball tacking it into the tackle or sprinting into space. He even side stepped of his LEFT foot (he did honest)
Man of the Match: Charlie
Well done to all that took part, overall a good performance again!