Firstly I would like to say a big thank-you to all the boys as they observed the minutes silence beautifully!
This week we had a home game against Widnes. We had a match day squad of ten with Guy and Charlie (get well soon) missing. The opposition had a slightly larger squad of 14.
Taking a leaf from “American” rugby we decided to play four 10 minute quarters rather than ten or fifteen minutes each way. The heavy overnight rain made the conditions soft or more like muddy underfoot but at least there was no rain during the actual match.
The Eccles squad consisted of Archie, Ben, Harry, Josh, Lewis, Lucas, Mickey, Mitchel, Reece and Tommy. Eccles won the toss and kicked off.
The first quarter was competitive with tackles aplenty. The first set of tackles for each side playing out to the last tackle and turnover ball. With the next set, Eccles made it all the way up field and Mitch burst the last line of defence to score what looked like a “nailed on” try. As the home team went to reset on their own 5m line, also the crowd celebrating, the match official called the last tackle and the ball turned over. In the confusion, Widnes took their opportunity and their winger streaked away to score the first try of the game.
Eccles responded immediately, strong running from Mitch and Tommy moved the ball quickly towards the Widnes try line and Ben crashed over to level the score.
With the defence from both teams on top getting a clean break was difficult and a missed tackle allowed Widnes to break and regain the lead. Niggle, even at this early stage was creeping in. The referee was shouting about hand-offs, the Eccles coaches complaining about high tackles and kicking (player not the ball). This was a theme that carried through the whole match!
The second quarter was much the same, big tackles from Tommy and Josh keeping the number of tries down to two for the opposition. In attack, slow playing of the ball was allowing the reset of the defensive line, static positioning when receiving the ball was taking away any forward momentum and Widnes started to get on top.
In the third quarter the greater numbers in the Widnes squad started to pay dividends as tiredness started to creep in for Eccles. Missed tackles again lead to a couple of long range tries and when Widnes were tackled short of the try line the pop to the “big men” allowed them to break the gain line and score.
Josh was continuing his fine form in defence with a flying, try saving tackle and Lucas’ bravery on the line also kept the Widnes attack at bay
Eccles did get further tries, an arching run from Tommy saw him evade the defence and dive in at the left corner flag. Penalties for high tackles were awarded (some missed for kicking out) and allowed Mitch to get a try, bursting through two Widnes tacklers to touch down.
The game was starting to get out of hand. A number of warnings from the referee, for hand-offs, fewer mentions of high tackles, no mention of kicking or knees in the back of Josh but did spot the “get off” elbow. Discipline was going out of the window.
In the final quarter Eccles were running on fumes and the Widnes defence were still holding firm. Lewis, quiet for most of the game was starting to get the “freight train” going making hard yards up the middle of the pitch. A minor scuffle after another high Widnes tackle saw two players sent to the side lines.
Quick ball (for once) gave Ben the opportunity for his second try of the match but made little impact on the overall score.
Final score: 4-13
Eccles Tries: Ben (2), Mitch, Tommy
As we played the equivalent of two games I am going to give two Man of the Match awards.
Ben (Strong/hard runs and lots of tackling)
Tommy (“On it” with his tackling game – the bigger the come the harder they fall!)
Towards the end of the game tiredness certainly played its part. The tackling stints by all players in the first two quarters was excellent but could not be maintained against a bigger team (both size and numbers). Further positives were the lowl number of knock-ons given away and only being tackled into touch once or twice with players actively coming inside and away from touch.
In attack, slow ball and minimal offloads allowed the Widnes defence lots of time to reset and when combined with taking the ball from a standing start gave the advantage to the opposition.
Much to do in training – Wednesday evenings from 18:30 please.