Typically damp Salford weather welcomed Ormskirk RUFC this morning who arrived at Eccles off the back of a very convincing 0 – 55 win away at West Park seven days earlier. Clearly the Eccles lads would need to be on top of their game if they hoped to contain todays opponents
Straight from the kick off Eccles looked jittery, uncharacteristically dropping the ball on a number of occasions to the frustration of the crowd and coaching staff. Ten minutes into the first half Ormskirk opened the scoring with a try in the corner despite some valiant defending led by the ever reliable Albert Tonoyan and Alex Hardman who was making his presence felt in the middle of the park.
0 – 5 as the conversion fell short.
Within 10 minutes Ormskirk took the opportunity to double their lead when Eccles hit the snooze button on their alarm clock and invited the Ormskirk Centre to collect the ball and stroll through to score under the posts for a simple conversion. 0 – 12
Having handed out their early Christmas presents to Ormskirk the Eccles lads rallied and from Matthew Walker’s restart they had Ormskirk pinned back inside their own half with some fantastic rugby. Scrums led to mauls, mauls led to rucks; Eccles managing to continually recycle the ball and push Ormskirk back. Lesser sides would have folded but Ormskirk stood firm and eventually stole the ball and broke wide in numbers and now it was the turn of Eccles to defend which they did valiantly. As play broke down and a penalty was awarded it was clear that Joseph Rapinett had picked up an injury and had to leave the field to re-gel his hair.
A third converted try for Ormskirk brought the first half to a close with Eccles now thankful for their newfound strength in numbers as Brad, Joe and David Smith had all collected knocks so far in this game.
The halftime score of 0 – 19 was a poor reflection of the game so far. Both sides had had a similar amount of possession in good positions on he field. The key difference was that Ormskirk had made the most from their opportunities on every occasion and Eccles had failed to capitalise on their moments inside the Ormskirk 22.
The second half started as the first had left off with both sides having good possession but it was our visitors who opened the scoring in the second half with a try against the early run of play 0 – 24.
The clean crisp Salford air had cleared both Coach James’ hangover and also that of the Eccles lads as from the restart they were on the attack playing sensational rugby as they forced our visitors deeper inside their own half. Ormskirk were clearly rattled and a lack of discipline resulted in three quick penalties which Dan Aspinall had the speed of thought (once prompted by his team mates, coaching staff and crowd) to tap and run, gaining valuable ground.
“Look, a star” – but no, it’s the light bulb of thought above Coach Kevin’s head as he makes a tactical switch, putting Lewis at 12, Mathew at 10 and Dan Aspinall at scrum half.
“Absolute genius” screamed Coach Kevin as his tactical swop around pays off instantly and Brad Palmer collects the ball from a series of short passes to score Eccles first try of the game, leaving Matthew a straight forward conversion and give his team the lift they need to turn the game around.
7 – 24 and Eccles are definitely in the ascendancy now. Powerful runs from Oliver Wright (black cap) Alex Thornton and Dan Goddard all in to contact were gaining valuable ground for Eccles but again the lads were caught sleeping as the Ormskirk winger picked up the hot potato and skipped through the Eccles defence to score another try.
7 – 29 Eccles needed a quick response and a lofted kick from Matthew to get the game restarted seemed to catch Ormskirk unaware. Alex Thornton collected the bouncing ball, maul led to ruck and the Eccles pressure was beginning to stretch the Ormskirk players as they started to concede silly penalties. The ball is collected by Ormskirk inside their own half and a break looks on but Joe and the covering Matthew force the Ormskirk player in to touch.
Flattered by the Eccles play, the Ormskirk flanker requests a dance and despite the protests of a number of parents who found themselves unwittingly at the fulcrum of the mosh pit, the Eccles and Ormskirk lads began comparing their personal collections of ladies hand luggage. A fine Coco Chanel 2.55 featuring the famous ‘Mademoiselle Lock’ (in reference to Coco never marrying) is displayed by Ormskirk. However Matthew and Joe counter with their own quirky Miu Miu satchel and a particularly impressive Alexander Wang clutch bag is whipped out and with the help of the parents, coaches and the Lemon adorned referee calm was restored.
The game is restarted and its Eccles who have cleared their heads first and once again a powerful scrum from Eccles forces a mistake from Ormskirk as they concede yet another penalty which Dan Aspinall taps and passes across the line of Eccles pacey backs, the ball finding its way to Brad Palmer who darts one way and then the other, the puzzled Ormskirk defence try desperately to bring him down but Brad weaves through and scores his and Eccles second of the game. By this time the pitch was beginning to show signs that a game had been played and the boggy conditions hindered Matthews conversion which fell short of the posts.
12 – 29 seemed to be the way the game would finish but a lapse in concentration inside the Eccles half presented the Ormksirk side with a final converted try to bring the game to a close with the scores at 12 – 36.
At the start of the season or even at the start of November, a 12 – 36 defeat to Ormskirk would have been seen as a decent showing against a strong side. The truth now is that Eccles were much better than the score suggests. We are stronger, fitter and faster than at any point in the past and playing as a team, drawing on the strengths that each individual player brings to the game. With a little bit of fortune and better penetration in the final third Eccles could have had two or three more tries and may even have sneaked a win.
Very well done Eccles and Ormskirk. Fantastic game of rugby
Special mention should be made to todays match referee Chris, who resplendent in his canary yellow top scampered about the pitch whistle in mouth like a gung ho metaphor for the ever energetic Big Bird from Sesame Street.
We have a decent break now for the lads to rest those tired muscles, make a start on Coach Kevin’s homework and get ready for some tough fixtures in the new year.
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad
Daniel Aspinall, Matthew Lee, Dan Goddard, Joshua Green, Alex Hardman, Elliott Hemming, Lewis Kenny, Brad Palmer, Joe Rapinett, Max Riley, David Smith, Robert Strickland, Alex Thornton, Albert Tonoyan, Matthew Walker, Jack Williams, James Wright, Oliver Wright,
Half Time Score 0-19
Full Time Score 12-36
Eccles Men of the Match
Players Choice – Albert Tonoyan
Coach Choice – Dan Goddard
Parents Choice – Joe Rapinett
Try Scorer – Brad Palmer x 2
Conversions – Matthew Walker x 1
Possibly the best performance of his season so far from Alex Hardman which was recognised with a number of parents MotM votes
Brad Palmer for a brace of fantastic tries despite being injured early on
David Smith took a couple of nasty knocks but reacted in true Eccles spirit by getting up and back in to the thick of the action
The Eccles lads who rucked Santa – you’ll be sorry in a couple of weeks!!
The Salford drizzle that made my notes run. Most of the above is from memory!
Coach James’ hangover
Dans Festive shirt!!