Eccles approached this game confident in their abilities and knowing that they had enough in their locker to take them through to the semi-final of the Blacksticks Plate for the first time. Eccles have a terrific balance of pace in their backs and power in their forwards. Ormskirk are a good match for Eccles pace but struggled in the last fixture to compete in the forward battles that Ellis P, Josh G, David S, James F and James W would be offering up today.
Although bitterly cold, the sun made a couple of brief cameo appearances and an accord had been reached with the Eccles RFC hierarchy such that the game could take place on the hallowed turf of 1st team pitch. All the lads had to do was to put into practice and demonstrate what they had been working so hard on every Thursday at training.
Ormskirk get the game started with a huge kick deep into the Eccles half which Joey Eccles takes comfortably in the ol’ bread basket.
Eccles are straight on the offensive, pushing Ormskirk back towards their own 22 with a succession of drives from their powerful forward line. But sloppy handling means Eccles lose the ball and Ormskirk break through the Eccles defensive lines to open up the scoring with a try under the posts within two minutes of kick off.
0 – 7
The Eccles lads appear animated and angry with themselves at the manner in which they have fallen behind. Coach Kevin pulls the lads together and has them fired up for an early response.
Eccles restart and press quickly. They soon have Ormskirk pinned back beneath their own posts until loose handling from Ormskirk forces a scrum just five metres out. The ball is fed in and Ormskirk push but the power and discipline of the Eccles scrum sees the ball hooked back and it’s the Eccles number 8 Alex H who anticipates the play, picking the ball up at the back of the scrum before and stepping inside one tackler and outside another before he is driven over the line by the Eccles pack to score Eccles first try of the day. Matt W completes the move with a composed conversion to level up the scores.
7 – 7 – Alex H, Matt W
The game is well poised now with the scores even and both sides making the best of their respective strengths.
Ormskirk restart with a high kick, Eccles knock on and Ormskirk have the scrum. Scrum is set and the drive is on. Eccles are again in complete control of the situation and are pushing Ormskirk back. The scrum breaks down and the one of the Ormskirk front row is injured. Fortunately the lad was OK to play on but couldn’t continue scrummage effectively and so all scrums going forward would now be uncontested – a terrible blow for Eccles as they were very much on top and in control of these eight on eight battles.
Eccles continue to force Ormskirk back into their own 22 but Ormskirk are defending steadfastly. Ellis P leads the line as he forces his way through the first line of defence before releasing the ball in the ruck to Shea S. Ellis retreats and sees the ball being cleared high towards touch, Ellis takes the ball out of the air superbly and finds Matt W who runs inside. The ball is loose and the fantastically quick Ormskirk winger is first to react, picking the ball up and running the full length of the pitch to reestablish the Ormskirk lead with a try that is easily converted
7 – 14
Eccles get the game restarted with a good kick which the Ormskirk Centre drops. The Eccles lads all appear to momentarily stop playing as they anticipate the familiar sound of the referee’s whistle but the ball must have been knocked backwards as no whistle was forthcoming. Fair play to Ormskirk for playing to the whistle (or lack of) as they break, ball in hand to run in a third try of the first half, all against the general run of play but all well executed and converted.
7 – 21
Eccles show some good spirit towards the end of the first half with some decent passing which sees a fine run from Ed H almost bring some well deserved points, however as the half is brought to a close Eccles find themselves trailing by fourteen points
Half Time 7 – 21
Coaches Kevin & James give the lads a spirit lifting team talk during the half time interval, a team talk so rousing that the lads couldn’t possibly fail to be fired up and ready to raise their game to the next level for the second half.
Eccles get the second half started but Ormskirk are quick to collect the ball and have Eccles back peddling towards their own try line. Ormskirk are pressing but seem to be forced in to touch, play goes on and Ormskirk score in the corner. Dan Gogh voices his frustration and finds himself the proud owner of a Kraft Cheese Slice and ten minutes in the sin bin.
7 – 26
Down to fourteen players and the Eccles coaching staff make their first changes replacing Alex H, David S and Oliver Bogof with Chea C, Alex T and Albert ‘the Tackle’
The numerical disadvantage seems to give Eccles a lift and they rally well with Chea C taking the ball forward on a crashing run at the heart of the Ormskirk lines. He draws in the tackles from the Ormskirk forwards before rucking and releasing the ball to Matt W, quick hands to Rob S who breaks wide before finding Matt W who had continued his run. Matt tucks the ball under his arm and races to the flag to score Eccles second try right where Patrick Swayze wouldn’t let anyone put Baby – right in the corner. Matt completes a fine training ground move with a conversion right out of the Owen Farrell book of fantastic conversions
14 – 26 – Matt W, Matt W
Ormskirk look rattled as Eccles start to turn their dominance in to points. The numerical advantage is reversed into Eccles favour as just at the point when Dan A returns to the field of play, a moment of indiscipline sees an Ormskirk Centre sent to replace him in the sin-bin.
Eccles immediately make the most of their full fifteen with a fast flowing move that sees the ball land in the hands of Joey Eccles who opens his stride and races forwards (I know!!) along the wing, he draws in the tackle before offloading the ball with a high and looping pass to the supporting Matt W who hurtles down the line to score in the same spot as he had done less than five minutes earlier. Unfortunately Owen Farrell had now been replaced with Will Ferrell and the conversion fell agonisingly short
19 – 26 – Matt W
Eccles Forwards are totally dominant now and the team have the advantage of numbers; the victory is wholly in their own hands with less than fifteen minutes to play.
Sadly for Eccles they couldn’t maintain the momentum that had brought them within a converted try of our visitors. A cleverly executed kicked penalty saw Ormskirk extend their lead to the significant ten point gap and then a series of awful decisions by the Eccles lads saw Ormskirk run in two more tries to bring the game to a close with Eccles a baffling twenty two points behind their visitors.
Full Time 19 – 41
Eccles are still without a win against Ormskirk in three meetings (12-36, 12-12 & 19-41) however these are two fairly well matched sides with Eccles having a stronger pack of forwards to select from and Ormskirk having the more pacy backs.
This level of parity in the two sides has also been recognised by the Ormskirk coaches who have invited Eccles to a three way fixture involving a French touring side in April. Fromage frais!
Eccles had control of the game for huge periods of time but failed to make the most of the opportunities when they presented themselves. A lack of urgency at the breakdown would often see the man with the ball isolated and exposed to the opposing players for too long. Too many handling errors and way too many missed tackles from our lads today.
Ironically Eccles played some of their best rugby when they were down to fourteen players, running in two excellent tries. The 5 minutes either side of half time saw Eccles fall nineteen points behind as Ormskirk ran in three opportunistic tries.
Just as Eccles had dragged themselves back into this fixture, a lack of concentration by the whole team saw Ormskirk close the game out by scoring a further fifteen unopposed points
Eccles U15’s Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad
- Josh G – Loose Head Prop
- David S – Hooker
- Ellis P – Tight-Head Prop
- James F– Second Row
- James W – Second Row
- Joe R – Blind-Side Flanker
- Oliver W – Open-Side Flanker
- Alex H – Number Eight
- Dan A – Scrum-Half
- Harry C – Fly Half
- Brad P– Left Wing
- Shea S – Inside Centre
- Ed H – Outside Centre
- Rob S – Right Wing
- Matt W – Full-Back (Captain)
Replacements – Alex T, Matt L, Albert T, Jack W, Archie H, Chea C
Scores on the Doors
Half Time – 7 – 21
Full Time – 19 – 41
Eccles Try Scorers – Alex H, Matt W x 2
Eccles Conversions – Matt W x 2
Eccles Men of the Match
- Players Choice – Joe R
- Coach Choice – Josh G
- Parents Choice – Joe R
Well done to Josh ‘the lips’ and Joey Eccles for picking up the MOM accolades. The majority of the parents votes went to todays Forwards which given they were prevented from showing the quality of their scrummaging just goes to show how well the Forwards played today
A big thank you to Chris’tle for referring todays fixture dressed as Big Bird; I’m not sure where we’d be without you.
Fantastic to see Alex T back today now that his favourite hand is working again
It’s Hawaii 5-0 for Mark Candland as he tips the scales at a half century. Happy Birthday Mark!!
No Danielle today as she is away on an international drinking assignment. The visiting supporters did comment as to how loud the Eccles support was…..just imagine!!
All the very best to our opponents today in their Semi-Final clash with the winners of Waterloo and Ashton and we look forward to visiting the home of the traffic jam to Southport in a few weeks time
Some positives that I saw today:
The notable lift in performance when the lads backs were against the wall, scoring two tries whilst down to 14 players
The drive, determination, aggression and above all, sportsmanship of Ellis P who is a catalyst for so many of the moves that the front row execute.
David S is gradually becoming one of the fastest players in the team!
The interchange between Matt W and Rob S for the second try
Joe R clearing out the ruck like a truck
The instant effect of the 1st three substitutes
Two yellow cards in todays fixture; one issued to Dan Gogh for persisting with his protestations after being warned by the referee and one for the Ormskirk forward for leading with his elbow on a number of occasions.
Who turned off the heating in the Press Box?
No game or training on Sunday however there is the opportunity to go to the AJ Bell to watch Sale vs Harlequins which will be closely followed by a visit to the Eccles Beer Festival at the Club. Drop Coach Kevin a message if you are interested in going to the Quins game