Junior Colts vs Wirral RUFC

Following last week’s disappointing and narrow defeat to Ormskirk the lads of Eccles RFC Junior Colts needed to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and get back to winning ways. Today’s visitors Wirral RUFC represented a brand-new challenge for the lads as this would be the first time that the two sides will have met at this age group. Wirral (the insular peninsular) is a hotbed of rugby; home to sides such as Caldy, Birkenhead Park and New Brighton. Wirral RUFC arrived at Gorton Street on the back of an impressive 31 – 17 home win over our good friends and home of the Benedictine Challenge, Colne & Nelson in their last fixture. This would clearly be a stern test for the lads.

Prior to kick-off a minute’s silence was observed by both teams, coaches and supporters in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in conflicts around the world.

Unfortunately, Wirral arrived with a shortage of players and so the game was contested at 13 a side with Eccles having the customary one player advantage. The game got off to a furiously quick start and right from the kick-off Brad Palmer is on the charge deep inside the Wirral half; the Eccles Full Back going over in the corner inside two minutes to give Eccles an early advantage. Matt Walker completed the scoring with a well taken conversion from a fairly tight angle.

7 – 0

Wirral seemed stirred by the early Try and were soon camped inside the Eccles 22, inching closer and closer to the Try line with each phase of play. Eccles are awarded a penalty and elect to run the ball out from behind their Try line. The ball is sent wide to Rob Strickland who accelerates down the wing and looks to have broken the Wirral lines but a brilliant last gasp tackle from the Wirral Full Back sees Rob put in to touch. Wirral secure the ball from the resulting Line Out and break left; Eccles have been undone by their eagerness to follow the ball and a lack of defensive cover leaves Brad and Shea exposed. Wirral capitalise on the four on two and score a Try around 15m from the upright. Such is the confidence of the Wirral players the kicker nonchalantly drop-kicks the conversion for the extra two points.

7 – 7

Eccles restart with a kick from Matt Walker, Eccles chase the inflight ball and like a ginger salmon, Harry Candland leaps, collects the ball mid-air and skips past a couple of Wirral players before releasing the ball to Matt Walker who completes the move, grounding the ball directly beneath the posts. Remarkably Matt saw his conversion go wide as a sudden gust of Davyhulme’s finest lung warmer collected the ball and sent it wide of the post

12 – 7

Eccles are dominant and have forced Wirral back to their own Try line. Wirral win back the ball and try to kick clear but Joe Rapinett charges down the kick, the ball ricochets into the arms of David Smith who drives for the line. David is held up but a combination of strength, determination and 6 pints of Carlsberg see him go over. Matt duly converts

19 – 7

The Half Time whistle is blown just as Brad Palmer is replaced by Josh Stafford after suffering an injury to his ankle. As in previous games, Eccles have been the dominant side but some poor decision making by the lads on the field served to frustrate Coach Kevin who was again heard to scream “just pick the ball up”. A boggy pitch made scrummaging difficult but without doubt the Wirral scrum was more robust than that of Eccles. Eccles however had shown such dominance in the Line-outs that Wirral resorted to not challenging the flighted ball and relied upon winning second ball

Half Time 19 – 7

It must have been one hell of a half-time team talk / lullaby from Coach Kevin as Eccles clearly nodded off and were caught napping at the start of the second half as Wirral collected their own kick and ran in a Try almost unchallenged

19 – 14

The Eccles lads Spidy-senses must have been on high alert as Coach Kevin stood on the touchline, face scarlet, his whole body fizzing like a 2 litre bottle of Asda Coke that’s just had a Mento injection; Coach Kevin looked as though he was about to erupt and go all Alex Ferguson on the lads, tea cups, hair dryer – everything.

The lads responded!

First Harry Candland shows his Strictly credentials and dances through the Wirral midfield and defence to score – Matthew converts

26 – 14

Next Shea Skillicon shows his dad-dancing attributes as he charges forward, knocking the Wirral lads over like skittles to complete a move that started right on Eccles own Try Line; once again Matthew converts.

33 – 14

Josh Stafford makes a phenomenal impression on his Junior Colt debut (I think) as he makes two identical breaks from inside his own half; Firstly he makes the break, gains over thirty metres before sensibly offloading to the supporting Shea Skillicorn who sprints for the line to extend the Eccles lead to 26 points; Josh breaks for a second time, he fends off the Wirral challenges and makes his own breakthrough, scoring beneath the posts. Matthew converts both under pressure as the Wirral lads charge the kicks.

47 – 14

Eccles are rampant, and Max Riley shows composure to collect a difficult ball under pressure from the advancing Wirral players, Max tucks the ball under his arm and breaks forward only to be felled just shy of the Try Line by a clumsy grasp at the neck of his shirt, a penalty is indicated but Joe Rapinett picks the ball up, strides forward and releases the pass to the supporting James Fletcher who crashes over the line to score his first Eccles Try – well done James.

54 – 14

Unfortunately for Wirral, the man advantage afforded to Eccles had taken its toll and the Wirral players looked utterly exhausted. Wirral were thrown a lifeline as a fortuitous line call saw good Eccles possession handed to Wirral and in a tremendous show of effort, the Wirral players managed to score and convert a third well deserved Try

54 – 21

It’s Groundhog Day as Matthew Walker restarts, the Ginger Salmon leaps, collects, hops, skips and dances his way through the Wirral defence to score with the last play of a very successful days rugby for Eccles Junior Colts. And what a fantastic Try it was to bring the game to a close

Full Time 55 – 21

Many thanks to the players, parents and coaches of Wirral RUFC for making the journey from the Sunshine Peninsular to Salford to fulfil a fixture that they must have known beforehand would be difficult with less than a full fifteen players. Without doubt the game over at the Memorial Ground will be a much tighter affair.

Eccles Junior Colts’s Vital Statistics

Todays Eccles Junior Colts Squad

Starting XV

  1. Josh Green
  2. David Smith
  3. Dan Aspinall
  4. James Fletcher
  5. Matty Lee
  6. Joe Rapinett
  7. Albert Tonoyan
  8. N/a
  9. Nat Kelsey
  10. Matthew Walker
  11. Harry Candland
  12. Shea Skillicorn
  13. N/a
  14. Rob Strickland
  15. Brad Palmer


  • Ed Hampson
  • Chris Gillard
  • Josh Stafford
  • Max Riley


  • Jack Williams
  • Alex Hardman


  • Ellis Pearson
  • Keiron Reed
  • John Grundy
  • Joe Borrett

Scores on the Doors

Half Time 19 – 7             Full Time 59 – 21

Eccles Try Scorers

  • Shea Skillicorn x 2
  • David Smith x 1
  • Josh Stafford x 1
  • Brad Palmer x 1
  • Harry Candland x 2
  • Matthew Walker x 1
  • James Fletcher x 1

Eccles Conversions

  • Matthew Walker x 7


Eccles Man of the Match must have been a difficult decision to make with so many players making outstanding contributions to todays game however it was our number 12 Shea Skillicorn who took the honours for the second time in two games with his two Trys, fantastic support play and marauding runs. Well done Shea!!


It was great to see Jack Williams at today’s game. Jack should be back for our next fixture following a hand injury that has kept him sidelined for the last few weeks. It’ll be great to have you back in the squad Jack!

Welcome back to Mark Candland from his jolly boys outing to watch the Rugby League World Cup down under

Too Good

Harry Candland made two incredible mid-air takes, both of which came from the Eccles restart and resulted in an Eccles Try. This is something I have seen Harry do before against Sedgley Park – anyone remember Sedgley Park?

The nonchalant conversion from the Wirral lad following their 1st Try. We will need to watch him in January –  three from three today!

The Eccles Line-Out was totally dominant today, both in possession and in defence. Accurate throwing from Dan Aspinall, clean lifting by James Fletcher & Josh Green and secure handling from Joe Rapinett gave Eccles the advantage at every Line-Out

The Wirral number 23 made me chuckle when he joined the Eccles Pre-Line Out huddle to get the nod on the next Eccles play.

In a touching tribute to those who were around at the time of the Great War the lads sat and supped a post-match pint of Mixed

Matthew Walker showed fantastic consistency in his kicking, converting seven from nine opportunities – at least three landing in the greenhouse of our neighbours

Too Bad

Matthew Walker missed a kick that his mother could have converted in her best stiletto shoes!

No ‘Iodine’ Mark Skillicon today so the lads who took knocks were spared a squirt of whatever it is that Mark has in that bottle he carries around.

Joe Rapinett took one square in the spuds as he charged down the kicked clearance, giving David Smith the chance to drive over for the Try. Too bad Joe 🙂

Next Up

Our first away fixture of the Conference League this coming Saturday will see us travel to Northwich to face the early league leaders Winnington Park RUFC. Todays game should serve as a stark reminder the importance of having a full squad available; Wirral are no mugs and we put nine Trys past a weakened Wirral side today – we cannot afford to let the same thing happen to Eccles next week at Winnington Park.

Our last encounter with Winnington Park ended with Eccles taking the spoils 29 – 17 in a physical encounter at the start of October. Winnington are a big side and have a number of players blessed with pace. Their current form is excellent with two wins from two in the Conference League.

  • Week 1
    • Winnington Park 92 v 10 Clitheroe
  • Week 2
    • Colne & Nelson 15 v 29 Winnington Park

Let’s have a big turnout at Wednesday night’s training, build on today’s resounding victory, close out any identified weaknesses and give Coach Kevin the luxury of a full-strength squad on Sunday.

Final note – someone could’ve told me I’d miss titled this match report 🙂 🙂