This Sunday’s game marked a number of milestones and was a fitting tribute to the efforts of the U14 squad and coaching team. It was summer 2014 when Coach Kevin picked up the reigns part way through a 7’s tournament at Heaton Moor. Eccles had got off to a reasonable start in the tournament but were lacking the confidence to grab that all illusive win. We were confronted by a strong Bury side – Coach Kevin reshuffled the lads, gave them a confidence boosting team talk and sent them out. They returned with their first ever win.
It is therefore fitting that it was again against Bury that the Eccles lads showed their true potential and how far they have come on as a team since that 7’s tournament in 2014. Throughout the game Eccles looked stronger and more resilient than our opponents in both attack and defence. When we had the ball we were powerful, constantly driving the Bury side back towards their try line. When we didn’t have possession we were organised and resolute in winning the ball back.
We arrived at Bury RUFC amidst a howling and bitterly cold westerly wind gusting along the length of the pitch. The home side got the game underway with a kick that the wind grabbed and carried out of play behind the Eccles posts. Eccles win possession from the resulting scrum and immediately drive Bury back towards their own 22. The ball in firmly in the hands of the Eccles forwards as they put pressure on the Bury defence, three quick passes and Rob is released and looks sure to score but is thwarted by a fine tackle from the Bury full back who forces Rob in to touch. From the Bury line out Eccles win possession and are again on the offensive. Piling the pressure on the Bury defence forces Bury to concede a penalty right in from to the posts. Matthew W picks the ball up and ‘does a Dan’ – taking the quick tap and rushing past the Bury defence to open the scoring but leave himself an impossible conversion
0 – 5 Try Matthew W
From the restart Eccles are quickly back on the attack and have Bury pinned back on their own try line. Josh G looked to have forced the ball over but he was adjudged to have not properly grounded the ball despite the evidence of the TV Match Official Danielle. Despite the setback Eccles regain possession as James W picks the ball up and makes a solo drive for the try line, managing to touch the ball down to double the Eccles lead as the defensive tackles fly in around him. What a fantastic try but yet again the placement of the kick leaves Matthew with an impossible task in his conversion – in fact he would have been more likely to score over the Eccles posts, the wind was so strong.
0 – 10 Try James W
Again Bury restart the game and Max finds himself isolated at the back, chasing the ball back towards his own 22 like a kitten chasing a hardboiled egg across the kitchen lino. He eventually has the ball in his hands but is tackled by the onrushing & wind assisted Bury Backs. Max has the support of the still saddle sore Jack and Joe R who on this occasion is running in the approved direction for this phase of play.
The Eccles backs work their magic and the ball is moved forward through good work from Jack as he skips past the Bury forwards before being brought to a halt by a crunching tackle. From the ruck the ball is moved across the Eccles line towards the centre of the pitch, the Bury defence follows the ball until the Dan finds Elliot who’s pass releases Rob to run left to right and in to the open space on the wing and eventually over the line to score Eccles 3rd try on the stroke of half time – Matt still had time to check the wind direction with his conversion attempt.
0 – 15 Try Rob S Half Time
Bury had clearly had a good half time team talk as they started the second half with a much higher level of intensity, driving Eccles back deep in to their own half from the Eccles kick off. Possession changed hands a few times before the ball is eventually turned over in the ruck by Elliot who forces the ball backwards to the safety of Dan Aspinall. Matthew arranges the play before Dan passes to Matthew and then into the hands of the on rushing Chea who crashes first through the Bury forwards defence and then through their two Centres. Despite the efforts of the Bury full backs Chea is away and he covers 2/3 of the length of the pitch before placing the ball down beneath the posts. Matthew steps up and taps the ball over for the extra two points.
0 – 22 Try Chea, Conversion Matthew W
This must have been a devastating blow for the Bury lads as they had started the second half so well and it was only seconds until they fell further behind when straight from the restart Eccles collect the ball and the returning Joel finds Rob with space to accelerate down the touchline to score a fifth try for Eccles which Matthew converts with ease.
0 – 29 Try Rob, Conversion Matthew W
The hard work put in on Thursday evenings pays off when in a mirror of Chea’s earlier try, the ‘Crash’ training ground play brings Chea his second and Eccles sixth try of the day. This time from another successful close to the Bury try line. Matthews’s conversion leaves Bury trailing by thirty six points, still with 15 minutes to play.
0 – 36 Try Chea, Conversion Matthew W
It wasn’t long before Eccles had the game wrapped up – 30 seconds in fact! The Bury restart is kicked long and is comfortably collected by Josh who along with Joe is sporting a facial love bite from a loose boot in an earlier ruck. Josh finds Rob and the writing is on the wall. 60m / 12 seconds = game over! Matthew completes the formalities with the conversion and the match referee brings the game to an early close under the Competition 40 clear points rule.
0 – 43 Try Rob, Conversion Matthew W FULL TIME
It’s at this point I had to leave to go 10 pin bowling – thankfully Joe knows the direction to bowl the ball!
This was a great all round performance, maybe the best rugby we have played but it was certainly the most consistent and error free of all the games I have done the match report for. The team looked organised in both defence and attack; we won all our own scrums and most of Bury’s too; we had great success at the line out; rucking was excellent with the forwards showing great commitment and courage; defensively we were solid and unbeaten; in attack we were strong, fast and ruthless.
This was the first time that this group of lads:
- Have kept a kept a clean sheet
- Have won away from home
- Have won a Blacksticks game by the 40 point rule
- Biggest ever winning margin – although Sedgley was close at 37 point spread
All great milestones that the lads & coaches should be proud of
Onwards now to the semi-final at home on Mothers Day to Colne & Nelson RUFC
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Today’s Eccles Squad
Daniel A, Joel A, Chea C, Joshua G, Alex H, Elliott H, Joe R, Max R, David S, Robert S, Albert T, Matthew W, Jack W, Matthew L, Lewis K, James W, Oliver W
- Half Time Score 0 -15
- Full Time Score 0 – 43
Eccles Men of the Match
- Players Choice – Chea
- Coach Choice – Matthew W
- Parents Choice – Chea
Robert – another hat trick of tries
Joel returning to the side and playing his part in the victory
Alex T& Brad for coming to support their team despite being unable to play
Danielle for being heard 80m away, upwind in the hurricane
Eccles U14’s as a whole for a tremendous and consistent performance highlighting the effect of marginal gains and minimization of errors
- Chea x 2
- James W x 1
- Matthew W x 1
- Robert x 3
- Matthew Wx 4
My friend Jan from the Netherlands for asking “why don’t they throw the ball forwards?”
Coach James – we needed those duvet coats
Match reporter for late report
James & Rob for ‘having a laugh at Matthew’ by scoring in the corner leaving him a 30m kick in to a hurricane
Matthew W for scoring in the corner leaving himself a 30m kick in to a hurricane – As Captain Mainwaring would say to Private Pike……