After two excellent performances the U9s were set to try and make that three in a row. The visitors today were Tyldesley and we battled to a hard fought draw in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. A full turnout from Eccles allowed the creation of two teams, two games against a single (but man for man bigger) team from Tyldesley. Team captains for the day Reece and Mitch made their selections and it was Mitch’s team up first.
Team Mitch: Ben, Charlie, Lewis, Lucas, Mikey, Mitch and Nathan,
Mitch won the toss and Eccles started the game. From the first play it was evident that Tyldesley were up for the challenge with the defence being up in the line quickly and ferocious tackling driving Eccles backwards from the off. Their pressure paid off as a fumbled ball gave Tyldesley possession deep in the Eccles half and lax tackling gave them the first try of the game.
From the restart Eccles were again forced backwards. Slow playing of the ball, loose passing and not getting past the gain line was keeping the team on the back foot. A tackle into touch forced the turnover and Tyldesley were able to convert for a 2-0 lead.
Eccles gained a slice of luck as Mitch escaped the two man tackle to sprint in to open space to score Eccles’ first try. Eccles were struggling to contain the Tyldesley attack. Poor tackle technique allowing many metres to be gained up the middle and a third try to be scored.
Eccles were wilting under the immense pressure from Tyldesley and another tackle into touch turned the ball over for a fourth try just before half time.
After a talking to by both Martin and myself that included tackling round the legs, quick play the ball, tackling round the legs, getting the ball out wide, tackling round the legs, offloading before/in the tackle and tackling round the legs, the players “trudged” back into position for the second stint.
The half started brighter for Eccles! The quicker ball and offloading was allowing Eccles to go forwards and 5 offloads in succession going from right to left and then back again gave Ben the space to pull a try back for the home side. Resolute defending from Eccles also forced a turnover followed by quick ball in their own half put Mitch through a gap and nobody was going to catch him.
Any thought of a comeback was dashed with numerous turnovers as Eccles reverted to the sloppy tackling. Five tries without response saw the game out for the visitors.
Final Score: Eccles (Mitch 2, Ben) 3 – 9 Tyldesley
Man of the Match: Charlie (explosive 30 second cameo for Team Reece, see below.)
A quick talk in light of the first game took place with the members of Team Reece. The disappointment of the first game was used as “what not to do” and as you can imagine it also involved tackling, tackling and tackling with special emphasis on tackling
Team Reece: Archie, Guy, Jack, Josh, Reece and Tommy
Tyldesley won the toss and kicked off. The first drive was met by a crunching tackle from Jack driving the man backwards, their second drive met by Guy, the third by Tommy and the fourth by Josh and Archie combined all for the gain of zero yards and the remaining two tackles completed and turnover ball in good midfield position. If Tyldesley though this game was going to be easy … think again!
From the off, quick ball followed strong running followed pass out into space. Tommy was first on the score sheet with a typical jinking run. Tyldesley completed their set of six but were held up short of the try line and further strong running and excellent passing set Guy sprinting down the left (his favourite) touchline to make it two.
Again the Eccles tackling thwarted the Tyldesley attack and then a superb series of passing gave Josh the space to spectacularly dive into the corner. As a reminder, lax defending from the restart allowed Tyldesley to get on the scoresheet with a try from the first play of the ball.
Further drives, quick ball allowed Jack to skirt across the defensive line and bulldoze his way through the Tyldesley defence. The Eccles tackling showed no sign of tiring with big hits coming in from everyone. A spilled ball saw Jack pounce and put Reece down the wing only to be tackled millimetres from the line. Tyldesley tried in vain to move from their own try line but resolute tackling again forced the turnover straight to Tommy for try number 5
From the restart Tyldesley, for the first time this match, made the yards up the middle and on the last play managed to drive the ball over for a half time score of 5-2
The second half was almost the same … with the exception that the tackling, from Eccles, got better. Josh took the first tackle of the second half head on against the biggest player on the pitch (“you aint going anywhere mate!!!!”) but took a knock in the process. Charlie came on as a sub, took the ball as first receiver and had acres of space to his right to run into. Instead a step of the right foot sent him left into two defenders but had the speed and strength to break both tackles to touch down.
Eccles stepped up the tackling even more, now forcing Tyldesley back time and time again. Turnover ball again gave the opportunity for Tommy to gain his hatrick. If three were not enough more big tackles from Jack and Guy provided a loose ball, picked up in his own half … there was only one place that this was going … try number 4 for Tommy and try 8 for Eccles.
With the game all but over, could there be a spectacular finale? The ball two yards short of the line in the right hand corner, the Tyldesley defence was bunched, the last tackle and play of the game AND the whole team in a perfect attacking line. Archie in the left wing position screaming for the ball, the coach screaming for the ball to be passed out wide, the crowd looking on with bated breath … it was on, it was definitely on.
Tommy played the ball to Josh who played the ball to errrr no one (aaaagggghhhh but the pass down the line was ON), he angled back towards the waiting defence, into the first tackler then the second and also a third but he was still going forward and somehow seemed to go through the legs to touch down for the final try of the game.
Final Score: Eccles (Tommy 4, Josh 2, Charlie, Guy, Jack) 9 – 2 Tyldesley
Man of the Match: Jack (excellent tackling, in the thick of things from start to finish)
Overall I am disappointed in the performance in the first game but second game showed what we can do if we get stuck in and actually tackle low. Hopefully the weather/pitches allow for training on Wednesday and Sunday as we could do with some practice.