Second-half collapse in self-control costs Colts.


Despite a travelling squad of 20, and lot of effort from a number of players, the Eccles Colts fail to hold on to a half-time lead at Wilmslow, for a consecutive January defeat on the road.

Wilmslow began with the greater ambition and succeeded in pinning Eccles into their own half for the opening quarter of an hour. Eccles remained composed and worked hard to contain the sustained home team pressure outside their 22. Eventually, effective passing and determination from centres Tim Cullen and Zak Brooker moved play up field, only for an unnecessary penalty against the opposition 9 at a scrum to open the door for Wilmslow back into Eccles territory. Wilmslow took swift advantage of the penalty with their fast fullback attacking space on the right wing; avoiding some heroic tackle attempts, he scores in the corner; Try; unconverted. 17 minutes 5-0.

Eccles inability to escape their own half continues. The restart is miss-kicked, and Wilmslow proceed to occupy their visitors at the wrong end of the field. Their Fly-half repeatedly kicks over the Eccles advancing line towards the right corner where Eccles are forced to rebuild from deep. This tactic pays dividends for Wilmslow with supporting numbers they regain possession and the scrambling Eccles defence can not prevent a second try; unconverted. 23 minutes 10-0.

This ignites Eccles into an immediate response. Sustained pressure in the centre of the pitch from the restart leads to a quick reaction and acceleration through the middle from Fly-Half Leon Simpson for a try under sticks; converted. 28 minutes 10-7.

Eccles receive the restart and drive forwards through Cullen, Brooker and Kyle Dowarka who makes a good break up the right wing. Wilmslow counter attack through their Fly-half and Fullback down the right flank, Eccles winger Matt Hope and openside Recce Walker are alert to the danger, tackling and then forcing the attack over to the touchline.  Now in possession, Eccles break and kick deep for territory; a defensive knock on leads to a scrum on the right wing; the ball is dispatched swiftly out the back, Simpson bursts through the middle and as he’s tackled makes a superb offload inside to a ballistic Brooker who cannonballs through challenges to score between the posts. Great try; conversation missed. 35 minutes 10-12.

At 35+5 minutes Wilmslow attack again down the right through their Fullback with a kick, ricochet and chase. Eccles defend resolutely and hold out to be ahead at the end of a cut and thrust first half. ZB leaves the field with a head injury, a great shame as his centre partnership with TC has been effective.  HT 10-12

Eccles began the second half with a reorganised back line, Callum Baines and Josh Houghton enter the fray. However, within 5 minutes of the restart Eccles’ plans are scuppered by another unnecessary loss of discipline at a scrum. The ref has enough of the chat and Eccles are a man down. Penalty awarded on the Eccles 22 and the Wilmslow Fly-Half slots home the straightforward kick. 40 minutes. 13-12.

For the remainder of the game Eccles’ frustration and impatience boils, whilst Wilmslow display calm organisation and better discipline at the breakdown. They take advantage of their superior numbers and within a few minutes score a try. 18-12.

Tackling from the Eccles’ forwards is tenacious. Fresh legs are introduced in attempt to boost work rate but the Colts fail to suppress the influence of the Wilmslow 10 who simply kicks for territory to release the pressure. A Wilmslow line out leads to a driving maul 10m from the goal line; the ball is held up but the defender is assessed by the Ref as ‘coming in from the side’; Penalty Try awarded; converted. 50 minutes 23-12.

Eccles fight back, fixing Wilmslow into their own half. From a PG drive on the right by flankers Joe Gaff and Callum B, the ball is released to Leon Simpson, who breaks through the centre to score on the left. Try; excellent conversion kick. 55 minutes, 23 -19.

Unfortunately, this is to be a brief glimmer of positivity. A few minutes later, following an Eccles attack halted short of the goal line, a second Eccles yellow card issued for a ‘high’ tackle on the Wilmslow 22 returns momentum back to the home team. The loss of a player, plus their determination to reduce the deficit leaves Eccles open to counter attack. A kick and chase from the half way line ends in a Wilmslow try. 60 minutes, 28-19.

Damola returns from the sin-bin, contributes to a crash ball and leaves the field a few minutes later injured. As Eccles press forward again, an intercepted pass in the middle of the pitch results in another disheartening Wilmslow try, under the sticks; converted. Whistle. FT 35-19

A disappointing defeat, a second half collapse in discipline, 2 cards, 2 injuries – not much to celebrate.  A great shame for two committed members of the squad, who were playing their last games this season and perhaps for some time to come. This week Kayne McNally will head to a Chilterns training camp to join the RAF, and Matt Hope will undergo a shoulder operation, his recovery from which will take several months. We wish Kayne and Matt the very best of luck and look forward to hearing of their progress.

In other news this week New Brighton withdrew from the Senior Colts League, the 10th team this season to fall due to lack of players. The Eccles Colts march on.

Next Colts League fixture is HOME v Macclesfield, 12th February, 2pm KO.