Where do you start with a game like this. A true end to end, fiercely competitive game of rugby between two sides both intent on playing the game the right way.
Contrary to previous seasons Eccles started extremely well and from the whistle immediately had Rossendale on the back foot. Some great forward play resulted in the ball being released to Chea who raced down the left, skipping through the Rossendale defence to run in Eccles 1st try which was subsequently converted by Matthew. Within moments of the restart Eccles were in again, this time Jeremy (Rossendale loan player) racing past his former team mates to score a second try for Eccles in the opposite corner. Once again Matthew stepped up and converted the try to give Eccles a 14-0 lead within the first 10 minutes. This early dominance clearly gave Rossendale a wake up call and within moments of the restart they reduced the deficit with two quick tries coming from their 1st two attacks. The 1st try coming from some loose passing in the Eccles ranks allowing the Rossendale number 15 to break through and despite being tackled a few yards from the try line, he was able to reach over and ground the ball in the corner. Rossendale only managed to convert the second of the two tries leaving Eccles two points ahead after 20 minutes.
As the 1st half progressed Rossendale’s dominance of the scrum and line out began to pay dividends and a third Rossendale try was scored from Eccles own line out on their five metre line which was followed moments later with a fourth almost straight from the Eccles kick off. Again Rossendale were let down by their kicking as neither try could be converted. This would normally be the point in the game where the Eccles lads would allow their heads to drop, but not today and loose play in the Rossendale scrum was capitalised on by Albert who collected the loose ball and burst through the Rossendale defence, shrugging off a number of tackles to score under the posts leaving a simple conversion for Matthew. What a fantastic performance from both teams to leave the match at 22-21 at the end of the first half.
The second half started at the same intense pace that the first half had ended on, with Rossendale forcing Eccles back in to their own twenty two and despite some rock like defending from the Eccles backs another try was conceded as Rossendale went over once again in the corner. From the restart Rossendale were again on the offensive and although the first wave was halted by another fierce tackle from Albert, the Rossendale attack was soon up to pace and going over again in the corner. Failure to convert these tries meant that Eccles were still in with a chance of turning the game around and within minutes of going behind, Matthew was released with a pass from Joe (according to Joe) to break through, skipping past the lines of Rossendale defence and holding off three or four tackles to score another great Eccles try. Matthew went on to convert this try, maintaining his 100% record in the game and earning him Man of the Match from his team mates and parents of the Eccles players.
Uncharacteristically on a couple of occasions during the second half the Eccles lads found themselves involved in to a bit of handbags which led to a deserved caution for one player from each side and a hastily brandished red card for the Eccles winger which this journalist believes will be rescinded once the officials have seen the video evidence.
Down by one man Eccles found themselves on the defensive for the remainder of the game and some quick passing by the Rossendale backs was capitalised upon with a final converted try to sew the game up 28-39.
Reading through the above there are a number of Eccles players who have not been mentioned. This performance was one of the best I’ve seen from this group of lads, Dan deserves a mention for his game today which earned him the Coaches Man of the Match award for his tenacious play (Tenacious D) particularly around the scrum where he was quick to realise that the Rossendale pack were very dominant and quick ball in and a fast pick up was essential.
Jack too deserves a special mention for the manner in which he bounced back from a painful, unintentionally high tackle.
Well done too Josh for dropping into the game straight from a two week fitness camp in Bulgaria, his ferocious driving at the opposition lines will become a feature of these reports throughout the season
Without exception, all the lads played well and many positives should be taken from the game. Rossendale are a very strong side with a number of players regally playing at a higher standard and representing Lancashire. This was the 1st time these two sides have met at this age group but as a measure, Rossendale were narrowly beaten last week by Ashton, a team our lads struggled to compete against in last seasons Blacksticks semi final. This is a clear indication of the progress that has been made over the last few months thanks to the summer training regime ran weekly by Coach Kevin & Coach James, the rewards from which will come as the season progresses.
Many thanks to the Players, parents and coaching staff of Rossendale RUFC for a great game and lending Jeremy during the 1st half and ‘whats-his-name’ during the second half. Both lads played very well and are a credit to their club
Work hard in training this Thursday and we will be sure to give Sedgley a game on Sunday.
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Half Time Score 22-21
Full Time Score 28-44
1st Try Chea
2nd Try Jeremy (Rossendale loan player)
3rd Try Albert
4th Try Matthew
All 4 tries converted by Matthew
Eccles Men of the Match
Players Choice – Matthew
Coach Choice – Dan
Parents Choice – Matthew
Cheese Slice – Chea
Ham Slice – Jack