Eccles Squad; Ollie Danniel Mathew Jake Alfie Sohan Bailey Jonnie Maxwell Ethan Seb
So, how do you measure a teams progress over the course of a season? Simple; accept an invite from our illustrious neigbours on a damp and cold Sunday morning!
In an additional fixture to those on the list, the boys turned up at Carrington without three regular players but, excited at the prospect of taking on a Sale team and showing them they’re premiership class ….when it comes to eating hot dogs!
Sale elected to kick off on a great surface! As is normal practice with our lads, it took us 5 minutes and 3 tries to wake up! At this point, with Sale 3-0 to the good, it looked like it was to be a day of defending on the back-foot and damage limitation. Wrong!
Ollie and Maxwell combined to put two good clean tackles in to see the ball handed to the Eccles attackers. Danniel picked up the loose ball and stepped forward before Ollie re-joined the attack, taking a pass from Danniel and setting off on his trade mark curve towards the touchline. With a wall of blue shirts in front of him, he really had few options, but every attack is a scoring opportunity for Ollie! 3-1
From the re-start, Sale looked to ship the ball to their (incrediblly) tall centers, but Mathew and Bailey saw the threat comming and closed the space off sharply. Again, ‘spilt ball’ saw possesion turned over and Ethan step inside to sneak through a gap only he saw! In a striaght race for the line, always back Ethan! 3-2
Some of our power play was superb. Concentrating on body angles and looking after the ball, makes it so much easier to play rugby going forward. Once the boys had realised just how much space was availble out wide, the second period of play saw Eccles now taking the game to Sale. Jonnie took a pass out on the left wing and took his oppsite number on the outside. It is a real delight to watch a winger burn up pace and finish a move started deep in his own half with a great try! Bailey and Mathew joined Maxwell and Sohan in thundering into the contact area. Jake followed them on their shoulder ready to off-load to our runners.
Sale were always looking to win first phase possesion in their attack before hitting their big lads. Only clinical tackling would stop these boys. Ollie put in a performance to be pleased with and ended the day with a hat trick of tries. Two of his runs would make any decent stand-off envious, but it was his tackling that would please any good No 7.
Mathew latched onto a pass from Seb before pumping his legs to the try line. Just as he looked as though he was about to be held up, he stretched for the line! Eccles now had the lead and their tales were up!
The third period saw Sale put a squeeze in the mid-field to create the spaces on the wings. It was this space that Maxwell attacked for his second try after a typical drive! He burst through two tacklers and turned his hips before scoring cleanly. It was Bailey’s turn to hit the gaps next. With the line just a few meters away, the Sale defenders were never going to force him to part with the ball (great two handed carrying Bailey!) as he looked to drive low towards the grass! Everyone watching – including the opposition – applauded an excellent hard fought try. Everyone except the referree that is! Bailey was adjudged to have been ‘held’ in the tackle and again the ball was handed over! ah well…. no reaction from the boys, who just took it on the chin and got on with things.
As the final quarter approached; it was Eccles who were just about on top of the game. Maxwell finished with a hat-trick, and Mathew also had a try disallowed. Ollie tackled and run himself into the ground, Alfie supported brilliantly, Danniel organised his attacking lines, Seb did the most he could with limited ball. This is an area we must work on; the game plan is to get the ball out to the wingers after our big runners have taken it up in the first phase. Sohan carried the ball securely into the contact area, staying on his feet and waiting for his support. Ethan, always looked dangerous in attack and punched way above his weight!
With all the replacements at their disposal, it was Sale who turned the screw as their big (BIG) lads put the game just out of reach.
The Eccles lads really did themselves proud. Every attack was played at pace and their defence fought themselves to a stand-still. This was how to enjoy a game against a well organised team. But for a few missed tackles, three regular players away and a couple of disallowed tries, it could just have been a famous win!
With some real fine commpliments bestowed upon the boys from the Sale coaching staff, its back to Gorton Street this Sunday against Tyldesley and another big test.
So, the answer to the question at the top of this report; this team has come such a long way in their first season playing contact rugby! Well done!
Sunday 15th March; Home – v – Tyldesley. 11.00am KO
Training this Wednesday 11th March 6.30pm; all welcome… including new players!
Comedy Gems from Sunday: Ollie after his tackle on the biggest U9s player ever and claiming “it didn’t hurt…. honestly”! ……. Alfie asking me to get him back onto the field after telling me he thinks he has a real good way of cheating!….. Bailey’s disallowed try!