Another good turn out for Eccles this morning as 16 or our 19 strong squad arrived for todays home fixture against Heaton Moor RUFC who come to Eccles off the back of two impressive wins against Bury and Bolton. Clearly with form like this from our opposition, Eccles would need to be at their very best.
Heaton Moor (Moor) got the match under way as Eccles lined up with a strong 15 and the ever more impressive Brad on the bench.
As is the current norm from the Eccles lads, the instructions from Coaches Kevin & James just prior to kick off were forgotten the instant the whistle was blown and although the ball was taken impressively from the air, all that was missing was the cry of ‘owzat’.
Eccles invited early pressure from Moor who had Eccles pinned back inside their own half from the off. The hard work that has been put in over the course of this season eventually came to shine as Eccles defended a series of attacks from Moor with tackles from Josh and Joel preventing further ground being conceded. Moor would have been over in the corner following a series of sharp passes but for the strength and determination of the Eccles defence as Albert (you’re tackled) Tonoyan crashed the Moor winger in to touch. Eccles won possession from the restart but a handling error from Joe Rapinett caused by excessive hair gel on his hands gave the ball to the Moor flanker who made Eccles pay for their mistake with the opening try. 0 – 5, conversion missed.
Matthew Walker got the game restarted and Moor were back on the offensive forcing Eccles deep into their own half. Again a Moor move was broken down as Albert again put the Moor winger in to touch. Eccles were starting to have more of the play and looked to be putting Moor under increasing amounts of pressure. A blistering run from Josh Green in to the heart of the oppositions front line had Moor defenders tumbling like skittles until he was felled by a fine tackle from the Moor centre. Eccles rucked and recycled the ball, eventually sending it wide to Rob who got his chance to run at the Moor defence, pushing them back almost the full length of the pitch, deep into their own 22. Not for the first time, Eccles were slow to support the man with the ball and from the ruck Moor again emerged with the ball.
Moor were proving to be both strong in the ruck and fast in support as a second try for the visitors was scored in the corner, but again the conversion was put wide. 0 – 10.
An injury to one of the Moor backs brought the 1st substitution to the game which so far had been very even. Moor had seen the majority of the ball but the Eccles defence was a very well organised disciplined unit and the Moor backs were struggling to break through. But for a couple of lapses in concentration the score may well have been 0 – 0 at this point but Eccles were 10 points down and would have to show their strength of character to get themselves back in to the game.
Matthew got the game started again with a well placed kick, Eccles were fast out of the blocks this time and had Moor pinned back inside their own half. Tenacious tackling from Dan Aspinall pushed Moor further back towards their own try line. Moor rucked well but the ball was turned over in what was Eccles best spell of play of the first half. The ball was with Alex Hardman who although playing out of his usual position, had stepped up to the plate and although operating outside his comfort zone (bed) was having a great game. Eccles were pushing Moor further and further back with drives from Albert Tonoyan, Oliver Wright and Chea Copues who was returning today from the head injury that even Joe Rapinett’s hair gel couldn’t remedy. Eccles had Moor on the backfoot now and Matthew Walker was to make them pay as he picked up the ball from the ruck and weaved his way through the Moor defence, holding off three Moor players to score Eccles first try. Matthew picked the ball up, still with his shirt neatly tucked inside his shorts and strode back to take the kick but uncharacteristically put the conversion wide of the posts.
Referee Jordan Bromley brought the first half to a close with Eccles trailing 5 – 10
Eccles got the second half under way with a sightly changed line up as Alex Hardman was replaced by (Master) Brad Palmer. It was a slow start from Eccles and Moor capitalised on this with an early try from their number 8 who was having a great game for the visitors. The try was converted to put Moor twelve points ahead at 5 – 17
Eccles responded well with a fine kick and chase from the re-start. Moor were deep inside their own half as Eccles rucked and mauled their way forward. Suddenly from nowhere Tenacious Dan Aspinall produces a fine looking Coco Chanel handbag (may well have been a fake); moments later and not to be out done, James Wright displays his finest handbag – a classic Louis Vuitton with monogram canvas and toron handles. Referee Bromley calms the unnecessary situation and gets the game back on track.
Eccles are on the attack and are again driving Moor deep in to their own half. A sustained period of Eccles possession inside the Moor half had the visitors rattled. Max Riley and Jack Williams held the Eccles line as Dan Aspinall retrieved the ball from the ruck and popped a splendid pass out wide to Matthew Walker who ran from left to right along the Moor defensive line holding off tackles, Max Riley made a dummy ran outside of Matt (I think Max actually wanted the ball). Matthew grounded the ball in the corner as the Moor defence look to have prevented the try. Without the necessity for video replays the referee awarded the try but as the previous try, the conversion was narrowly missed.
Moor got the game started again with the scores at 10 – 17. This was as close as Eccles got to an impressive Heaton Moor side, as they ran out eventual winers 10 – 31 scoring and converting two more tries along the way.
Late in the second half Rob Strickland took a knock to his knee which we all hope docent slow him down. One of the best moments of the second half was seeing Rob get up a head of steam and leave the Moor players, Eccles players and a dozen pigeons that had come to watch todays fixture in his wake. Rob’s run was curtailed by the last line of Moor defence who managed to catch and put Rob out in to touch.
This was a really enjoyable game to watch with both sides competing and battling fairly throughout both halves. The result was a fair one but the scoreline misrepresents how close these two sides were to one another today. Well played the Under 14’s of Heaton Moor and Eccles, well worth the entrance fee.
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad
Chea Copues, Daniel Aspinall, Joshua Green, Alex Hardman, Brad Palmer, Joe Rapinett, Max Riley, David Smith, Robert Strickland, Alex Thornton, Albert Tonoyan, Matthew Walker, Jack Williams, James Wright, Oliver Wright, Joel Aspinall
Half Time Score 5-10
Full Time Score 10-31
Eccles Men of the Match
Players Choice – Matthew Walker
Coach Choice – Joel Aspinall
Parents Choice – Matthew Walker
Two Tries for Matthew Walker
Coach Kevin for reminding the Eccles lads at full time that this is Rugby Football and not Association Football
Joel Aspinall for playing in 1/5th of all available positions today
Heaton Moor kit provider for those dapper trench coats that the substitutes had on!
James and Dan for bringing some highly impressive ladies luggage on to the pitch