Preston Grasshoppers Tournament – 25th April 2016
According to Coach Paul’s previous missive, you’re expecting “poetic genius”. No one told me that’s what I was supposed to be doing! If by poetic genius you mean ‘an accountant’s ham-fisted attempt at a match report’, I’m your man…
So, it was with great expectations that the 16-strong team representing Eccles U10s traveled up the M61 (and a bit of the M6 and some curly weird bit at the end) to Preston’s Annual Mini Rugby Tournament!
Reading the match programme, we found we were playing 5 minutes each way. This was a bit disconcerting as our boys tend to take a good ten minutes to get riled up enough to switch on! However, they did us proud today, and Eccles’ reputation is all the better for it!
Matthew, Evan, Shayne, Ethan, AdamC, Alfie, Ollie, AdamP, FinnM, Johnny, Carter, JakeH, Scott, Max, Lucas, JakeY
11.00 – Game One Vs. Lymm Green
Scott, Lucas, Jake H, Max, Johnny, Matthew, Ethan, Ollie
With the morning chill still in the air and the boys with cold hands, there are a few fumbles in the passing but the boys hold their own against a strong Lymm team.
An early attack down the wing sees Ethan swung into touch and a size 3 boot stud through the back of his hand. This first casualty of the day is replaced by Carter and the team physio, Dave, attends to the wounded. It won’t be the last time that Dave’s magical medical bag (containing vaseline and not much else) is needed today.
Jake and Lucas show great energy and get stuck in to the tackles, while Scott and Johnny use their great speed to stop any wingers threatening the flanks. However, despite the strong defending, the team support isn’t always there and after a ruck the ball is being left on the ground too long. Lymm capitalise on our weakness and pick up a couple of stranded balls, giving them opportunity to score and putting them ahead 0-2.
Eccles aren’t ready to give up hope yet. Having tackled and won the ball, the Eccles team move up as a team, providing a vanguard to Ollie in possession of the ball. Streaking to the right and the opposition bunched on the left, it looks like he might make the clear space. Unfortunately a forgotten and slow-to-recover Lymm player has been picking himself up off the floor in our back field for the last minute and decides to join the game, sprinting from deep in our territory and tackling an unsuspecting Ollie from behind. It’s a harsh blow, but it’s not long before Ollie gets his revenge with a try shortly after, pulling one back for the team.
Casualty number two for the day is Max. After some energetic tackling, he goes off with a wrist injury in the closing plays of the game. Out comes the vaseline and a final score of 1-2
11.40 – Game two Vs Warrington Green
AdamP, Scott, Lucas, Matthew, Shayne, Evan, Ollie, Ethan
The opening (not-)score was a confusing affair, with Warrington’s tall number 11 making an easy run along our defensive line and over the try line, and then over the pitch boundary (dead ball line?) without putting the ball down. The match ref looks to Coach Flem with puppy dog eyes, hoping that Flem would agree to let him have it… Hell no! This is no friendly; there’s silverware at stake… Try disallowed and the score stays at 0-0…
Now the dimensions of the pitch have been established, it isn’t long before the same genetically-enhanced super schoolboy makes up for his error and puts the ball down in the corner and scoring their first.
With Eccles still not having found their groove, passes are fumbled and there’s no rucking over for the loose ball. Warrington don’t let up for a moment and soon score a second. 0-2
Much of the play is in our half of the field, with the team on the back foot. Ollie gets the ball, but is marked by their star player. A nifty side step gets him clear and heading for the corner flag, but he’s closed down in the last few metres. He heads back looking for a way in but good defending sees the chance to score evade us again.
2-0 down at half time and the boy’s heads go down. There’s not much to report on the trouncing Warrington give us despite our best efforts. Essentially, their number 11 scores another three tries making it 5-0 at the death.
12.40 – Game 3 Vs. Kirby Lonsdale
Shayne, FinnM, Ollie, Lucas, AdamP, AdamC, JakeY, Alfie
With a refreshed team line up for game three, we are treated to some good passing and support. The attacking line moves up together and shows some fantastic team play that was a pleasure to watch.
The ball, moving effortlessly between players, is received by Finn and he makes a decisive attack on the wing drawing the players in before offloading the ball to Jake with great timing. It isn’t long before the ball makes it to AdamP who does his trademark dancing around the opposition to score the first of the game. Eccles are in the lead! 1-0
Shayne, AdamC and Lucas provide a tight defence in the middle, preventing Kirby from getting through and Alfie hunts down the ball carriers with a vengeance. It’s not until one of the opposition manages to sidestep the wing that they get the opportunity to run, and score the equaliser 1-1
With gaps appearing in Kirby’s defensive line, Ollie switches from doing widths of the field, to running lengths with great effect. A lovely straight run through a weak defence bags him a well deserved try before the half time whistle. 2-1
The second half shows more of the same great play, but Kirby get a lucky break enabling them to score a second equaliser. 2-2
With no injuries for a while, the finger of fate falls on Jake Y. He takes a hit to the mouth and takes home the award for the bloodiest injury of the day. As the vaseline comes out, Carter comes on in substitution.
Final play of the match sees the ball in Matthew’s hands and he finds an opportunity to charge a weak spot in defensive line. Given a few metres to get up to speed, the juggernaut cleaves Kirby in two and scores straight down the middle. 3-2
13.40 – Game 4 Vs. Vale of Lune White
Ethan Scott Matthew Lucas Max Carter Ollie Johnny
It always takes a bit of time for team to get riled up and now the boys are firing on all cylinders. With the passes flowing more freely and the wingers getting their attacking game on, resident speed-merchant Ethan is the first to get on the score sheet, followed by a second try in quick succession. 2-0
The gazelle-like Scott also proves he no slouch on the opposite wing, bagging himself the 3rd & 4th try for Eccles. 4-0
More outstanding teamwork follows as Max and Carter provide the battering ram into the centre of the Luney’s defence, while badass ruckers, Matthew and Lucas, ensure Lune get nowhere near the ball. Johnny is quick to pick up the ball and runs some great attacking plays offloading the ball accurately and effficiently. With the team in full flow, it’s Ollie and Max that overrun the defense, with Max the one to claim the fifth try.
Vale, broken and downtrodden, can only hope for a quick end as Ollie controls the field and scores his try for the game finishing 6-0
Three teams on W2 L2, but Eccles have 10 tries overall compared to the other two teams on 9 each. 2nd place into the Plate semi-final!
14.40 – Game 5 – 2nd Place Plate Semi Final Vs Waterloo Red
AdamP Johnny Ollie Shayne Lucas Matthew Carter Ethan
In the absence of an official match referee, Coach Paul puts on his impartial ref’s whistle and takes to the field.
In the event of a draw the first try scorer is deemed the winner, so the boys were keen to take first blood on the field, but things looked ominous when Eccles first play was immediately a knock on and the boys had to scrum down.
From the off the boys show high spirits and good form. With Matthew and Lucas keeping the Waterloo at bay, Shayne provides some quick hands on the ball and gets a lovely pass out to AdamP, who bursts into full sprint down the field to score the first try. 1-0
Adam, again in fine form attempts, a similar play down the wing, but Waterloo are quick to react and threaten to push him into touch. Thanks to some great support from his team he gets the ball safely away to Ollie who passes it to Ethan. Without much room to weave and the try line tantalisingly close, the funsize Ethan tries one of Maxwell’s charges into the throng of defenders on the line and disappears under a fidgeting pile of players. A long second or three later and the whistle is blown and as the heap peels off a smiling Ethan emerges. 2-0!
From the restart, it isn’t long before Matthew finds himself on the wing with the ball and runs it half the length of the pitch before being nudged into touch but giving Eccles the advantage with the ground that he gained. Waterloo’s possession is short lived as the ball carrier takes a tackle from Lucas and spills the ball, which bounces into the waiting hands of Ethan. A quick burst of speed over the last 10m gives Eccles their 3rd. 3-0
At half time, the Waterloo coach takes his turn to officiate over the proceedings. Facing an uphill struggle, his team were needing 4 tries in five minutes to win the match and it very nearly goes that way too…
Despite some great tackling from the Eccles boys, the Waterloo boys are relentless in attack, always managing to sneak an attack through our defence or closing down our passing play. After their third try, all scores are equal. Eccles are in shock and it’s squeaky bum time…
Adam, keeping his position and unmarked on the outside, receives a well thought pass and he legs it down the field like a whippet. On this, the final try of the game, the whistle is blown an Eccles are victorious! 4-3
15.00 – Plate Final Vs Preston Grasshoppers White
AdamP, Lucas, Ollie, Matt, Johnny, Max, Carter, Ethan
Against all odds – and for the second time this season – Eccles find themselves in an unexpected final. The weather taking a turn for the worse makes play hard going, giving the already cold lads a soaking for good measure.
Despite the conditions, the boys give a good battle, with Matt and Max soaking up and dealing out the punishment in the middle, and Lucas and Carter close behind and hot on the rucking, ensuring we don’t lose possession. There’s the occasional pass clearing the ball from the thick of the action but the wingers find it difficult to get a clear run.
After the half time team talk the boys restart with renewed vigour, but the fast and furious start to the second half is short lived. Demonstrating how important it is to tackle correctly, Carter shows some good body positioning into contact; his opponent less so. Having bent a little further than the human body is meant to, the grasshopper is grounded for five minutes while the medic attends to him. Even Dave’s Vaseline isn’t going to help this poor fellow.
With Eccles in possession prior to play stopping, the game recommences with Grasshoppers on the ball. Not the first bit of dodgy ref’ing we’ve seen this game…
Play is repeatedly stopped and restarted by the match ref. He must be seeing something, but quizzical look on everyone’s faces tell me it’s not just me wondering what’s going on. As the ref explains every infraction to the teams at great length, the boys look on shivering, and the spectators groan audibly.When the boys are finally allowed to get on with the game, there’s good play from both sides. Our best opportunity happens when Ollie intercepts a pass and has a clear run to the Hoppers’ line, but the ref blows the whistle and awards the ball back to Preston for an offside infringement.
Ironically, it’s the same ploy that wins the match for Preston. With Eccles defending their try line and in possession, the team pass the ball quickly down the line but a Grasshopper leaps in between our boys and scores the one and only try of the game. 0-1
It was a hard fought final… Our boys played fantastically. Their boys played fantastically. The ref was a bit… meh. Anyway, with a bitter taste in my mouth, only lessened by sucking of lots of lemons, we congregated in the clubhouse to see the boys receive their finalists plaque.
Top Scorers – Ethan 4 Ollie 3 Adam 3 Scott 2 Max 1 Matthew 1
Most impressive injury – What’s black an white and red all over? Jack Y in his Eccles kit. I hope the bloody mouth’s all better, fella (and that the taste of Dave’s vaseline went away quickly).
Butterfingers award – the winning team of the assault course competition who, upon being presented with their glass plaque, dropped & broke it. Maybe they should make the awards ball shaped next year.
Thanks to Sophia, Ethan’s sister, for providing the emergency match pen, topped with a big, dangly, smiley flower. Probably the last thing you want to be writing with when surrounded by masculine rugby types…
“Speaking to a lot of coaches at the tournament and throughout the season one thing that always pops up is how much they enjoy playing against us as a team and that they always struggle with one or two parents and their challenging sons. I love hearing this then turn to our team and smile as I see a team I’m proud to coach, support and stand up for. The support we get from the parents is second to none; if we need something doing all we have to do is mention it and it’s done. All this together makes Eccles the success that it is. A big thank you to you all!” – Dave “Nursey” Allcroft
“It has been a pleasure to watch the boys’ (and girl’s) efforts as a squad develop over the season; something that is vital in their support of each other. Their attitudes have been absolutely bench-mark, never giving less than their best in any games! From a game perspective, I have to mention both the Rossendale and Preston Tournaments, both of which we took runners up trophies after making the finals… against all the odds.” – Premier Eccles Coach, Paul
“Ohhhhhhh, I can’t watch this…” Anon, 2nd game
“You won’t go writing any of what I say in the match report, will you?” Toby
“I wouldn’t go behind the shed if I were you, not after what the kids have been doing behind there” – Anon (well, we were on the pitch furthest from the clubhouse…)
Have you not finished yet?
Almost. We’re all done for the season now, so I look forward to seeing you at the Marquee Presentation on 8th May and I hope the match reports haven’t bored you to tears 😉