A magnificently sunny Winters morning welcomed Ormskirk RUFC, our visitors to Gorton Street for the first game in this seasons Halbro Conference League. Ormskirk had managed to recover from a very poor start to their Preliminary fixtures, going on to win the final three games having started off with four consecutive losses. In contrast Eccles had played extremely well their early Preliminary games but ended the fixtures with a disappointing loss away at Liverpool. The outcome of the Preliminary Leagues saw Eccles reallocated to Junior C in unfortunate circumstances as Millom RUFC withdrew from the competition forcing Eccles in to the reallocation zone.
Ormskirk and Eccles have historically been fairly evenly matched sides, each game being contested with pace, power, controlled aggression and in great spirit of rugby. Todays game did not disappoint and absolutely lived up to exceptions. Eccles having most of the possession in all the right areas of the pitch, pressing hard against a well drilled Ormskirk defence. Unforced errors from Eccles coupled with a lack of discipline at key moments of the game would ultimately prove costly for the lads as Ormskirk mercilessly capitalised on every Eccles error.
The scoring was opened with a fantastic play from the Eccles lads, ball gliding across the field from hand to hand until Shea Skillicorn collected deep inside the Ormskirk half. Shea still had plenty to do as he drove forward, holding off and using all five of the D’s of Dodgeball (dodge, duck, dip, dive & dodge) before grounding the ball beneath the posts leaving Matthew Walker the most simple of conversions.
Eccles were mentally still celebrating when Ormskirk replied with a breakaway try following an Eccles handling error. Good chasing from Brad Palmer ensured that, although the Try was conceded, the kick would be a difficult one, too difficult for the Ormskirk kicker as his attempt fell short.
7 – 5
Eccles came to life immediately after conceding the Try with two Trys of their own in quick succession; first from a typically courageous run from Shea and secondly from Chris Gillard who forced his way over the line with the help of the Eccles Forwards whilst carrying three Ormskirk players on his back. Both Trys were grounded against the touchline and the boggy conditions didn’t do Matthew any favours as his conversions drifted agonisingly wide of the near post.
17 – 5
A few curious decisions left the Eccles lads frustrated and one remark too many saw Dan Aspinall receive a cheese slice and a spell in the Sin Bin. Ormskirk were quick to make the most of their numerical advantage and just on the stroke of half time managed to get themselves within a single score of Eccles with another Try that could have been prevented with more assured Eccles handling and better game play.
Half Time 17 – 10
Eccles started the second half in a controlled manner, endeavouring to keep the gap to seven points until Dan’s spell in the Bin was over.
Dan returned to play and Eccles began to look more fluid in their passing but yet another poor decision from the Eccles lads inside their own half saw the ball run free and the Ormskirk Centre collect the ball and make strides towards the Eccles defence of Brad and Max Riley. In desperation Joe Rapinett made a grab for the Ormskirk player but in his haste managed only to haul the player down by the collar of his shirt. A harsh but understandable Penalty Try was awarded and Ormskirk were level for the first time since kick-off.
Eccles responded in the best way possible with a Try of their own as Joe Rapinett made the drive forward, recovered his position from the ensuing Ruck to again collect the ball in the third phase of play and force his way over the line.
As Matthew prepared for the kick the referee was chastised by the Ormskirk line judge for allegedly swearing at the Ormskirk players. I can confirm that I was stood close enough to hear everything said and definitely did not hear anything of the sort. In a massive twist of irony however the Ormskirk lads were encouraged to “@£$&ing wake the @£$& up” by their own coaching team – and wake up they did, scoring and converting a Try as the Eccles lads appeared to momentarily stop playing at the point of a pass that they all felt was Forward. A hugely disappointing way to concede a Try but the lads are fully aware that the game is only started and stopped by the referees whistle and if you don’t hear it, it hasn’t been blown.
22 – 24
With just two and a half minutes left to play Eccles were pressing hard, knowing that just a single score would put them back in front. Eccles broke down the left flank, the Eccles Backs were in full flow with Ball moving from right to left. The graceful movement was brought to an abrupt halt by an outstretched Ormskirk hand that Knocked-on. Was this a legitimate attempt to intercept the ball or was it just a clumsy attempt to break up play in a key area of the pitch and at a vital moment for Eccles.
It is always difficult for the referee in these instances however a Penalty was awarded. The questions amongst the spectators after the game though centred around the administration of Law10.2 (a) in the incidents that saw Eccles concede a Penalty Try and Dan receive a Yellow Card which seemed inconsistent with the view taken on this deliberate Knock-on so late in the game. Refereeing is indeed an Art.
However it was in the hands of the Eccles lads now, inside the Ormskirk twenty-two, Penalty awarded – bizarrely though the lads opted for position rather than take the kick, a gamble that unfortunately didn’t pay off and with Time up, Ormskirk regained possession and kicked to touch bringing a fantastically pulsating game to a close; the resilience of the Ormskirk defensive game saw them winners by just two points, Eccles will be kicking themselves (and probably missing) that they didn’t capitalise better on the possession they had in a game they clearly could have won.
Full Time 22 – 24
Eccles Junior Colts’s Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Junior Colts Squad
- Ellis Pearson
- Josh Green
- Dan Aspinall
- Chris Gillard
- James Fletcher
- Joe Rapinett
- Matty Lee
- Keiron Reed
- Nat Kelsey
- Matthew Walker
- Harry Candland
- Shea Skillicorn
- Max Riley
- Rob Strickland
- Brad Palmer
- Ed Hampson
- David Smith
- Joe Borrett
- John Grundy
- Jack Williams
- Alex Hardman
- Albert Tonoyan
Scores on the Doors
Half Time 17 – 10 Full Time 22 – 24
Eccles Try Scorers
- Shea Skillicorn x 2
- Chris Gillard x 1
- Joe Rapinett x 1
- Matthew Walker x 1
Eccles Man of the Match was awarded to the very cheeky Shea ‘Tarzan’ Skillicorn.
I always enjoy our fixtures against Ormskirk RUFC, the lads are a credit to their club who play rugby in the true spirit of the game. They are strong, aggressive, quick and fair (other than that Knock-on obvs 🙂 ). It is a stark contrast to the scenes witnessed at our last fixture and brings in to sharp relief the contrast between those who want to play the game and those who do not.
One of the best days out at rugby for me was at Ormskirk, an occasion when our lads were well and truly schooled by the French touring side. The French lads had a wonderful and rousing song which they did a rendition of at Full Time. At long last Eccles too have a a song courtesy of Shea Skillicorn and Matthew Walker
We seemed to have more Coaches than Battersbys during the warm up which is just fantastic for the lads and especially good for Coach Kevin. The Forwards were being drilled, the Backs were put through their paces, Line-Outs tested – is it any wonder that the lads started so well rather than waiting for the second half whistle to get their game on?
For the very final time I am going to mention the excellent contribution of Chris, John and Joe who were playing up a level – Final because I no longer consider them as players who are playing up; as far as I see they are now Junior Colts who have the good fortune to be able to occasionally play U16s rugby.
Yet another rare sighting of the Lesser Spotted Rugby Coach today as James Wright made a late appearance to catch the better part of the Junior Colts match before his Eccles Ladies team took to the field.
For anyone who spotted me texting during the game, I was actually tweeting the scores etc as a running commentary to those on the World Wide Web
Sorry for the late match report however I have only just recovered my Hard Drive from GMP
Sing along with Matt & Shea
Sunday 12th November sees Wirral Junior Colts RUFC make the journey from Birkenhead to visit Gorton Street for the first time. Wirral cemented their place in Junior C with wins over their local rivals Oxton, todays visitors Ormskirk and convincing wins against Burnley & Clitheroe. In their fixture today the overturned an earlier defeat by Colne & Nelson by running in a 31 – 17 win at home. Wirral will be a good side; rugby is strong on the Wirral peninsular with teams such as Birkenhead Park and Caldy regularly producing some of the best players for Cheshire. Having said that, the Wirral fixture is one we know that we can win if we go into the game with the right mindset and a full squad backed up by the lessons learnt at Wednesday nights training session.