We welcomed our visitors Sedgley Park RUFC to a bitterly cold Frostie February morning in Eccles for a fixture that both sides look forward to in their calendar. Would the Siberian like conditions favour the Tigers or do Eccles have some catnip in their locker.
This group of lads have been on the wrong end of some heavy defeats against our local rivals over the past two or three seasons. But as Eccles showed in their visit to Park Lane for the Blacksticks fixture, when Eccles are not hampered by a shortfall in numbers leading to a numerical disadvantage, they are able to go shoulder to shoulder with Sedgley.
Sedgley Park get this morning’s fixture underway with a high kick which is collected handsomely by Matthew W who sees a gap appear before him in the Sedgley lines, he reacts immediately pressing forward and slipping through numerous tackles. The Sedgley defence have been caught napping and Matthew takes full advantage by opening the scoring with a try beneath the posts. Matthew strides back to the 22 and places the ball on the tee to convert his own try to leave our visitors trailing seven nil within the first minute of the game.
Sedgley kickoff for the second time in less than two minutes and have Eccles pressed back inside their own half. But it isn’t long before Eccles have control of the game again with Matthew W collecting the ball and instigating a fine move which sees the ball passed through Brad and out to Rob who wastes no time in opening his legs and striding the full length of the pitch to score beneath the posts leaving Matthew another straightforward conversion, which he takes.
Once again Sedgley get the game restarted with the kick deep into the Eccles 22. Sedgley have Eccles pinned back but Eccles are soon back in control of the ball through some fantastic rucking from Elliott and Lewis . Their hard work pays off as the ball is passed along Eccles forwards until Chea takes possession of the ball on the break. He moves left then cuts back right and then left again each time slipping another tackle before he creates the gap into which he strides to race through and score a sensational try beneath the posts which Matthew converts to leave our visitors trailing by 21 points
Sedgley kick off again and the ball is collected by Alex T whose hands are clearly less slippy this week as it takes it clearly and passes inside to Josh. Josh drives forward and in the ensuing ruck Lewis collects an unfortunate knock to his arm. An injury which sees him sit out the rest of a fixture in which he was playing so well. Lewis’ injury gives Joe the opportunity to play centre and Brad to show his versatility by dropping back to fullback.
Eccles are awarded a penalty but the Sedgley player refuses to hand back the ball, instead tucking it inside what appears to be a Burberry cross body clutch purse from early 2012 – most likely from TK Maxx. The decent sees Sedgley marched back a further 10 m and reprimanded by today’s official who is looking particularly resplendent his ‘post-it yellow’ shirt.
Matthew takes a quick tap penalty, he draws in the Sedgley forwards before releasing the ball to Josh who in turn finds Joe. Joe shows off his trademark run from left to right across the field and in a scene similar to Forest Gump the Eccles parents and coaches implore Joe to change direction “forward Joe, forward” but Joe has other ideas and he lays the ball off to the onrushing Alex H who takes the contact, holds the ball up and as a maul is formed releases the ball to Chea. Chea finds Matthew L and then Matthew W who releases the ball to Rob who darts away from the Sedgley defence to running a fourth try other half once again beneath the posts. The ever dependable Matthew W again converts.
Sedgley get us going again with a restart and are immediately on the offensive driving Eccles deeper inside their own 22. Eccles have control of the ball but a knock-on puts Sedgley back in the driving seat. Sedgley continue to press forward and force Eccles into a number of handling errors. Sedgley are awarded a penalty which is taken quickly, too quickly for the Eccles defence and our visitors have at last some points on the board in reward for their efforts. Unfortunately the lack of a kicking tee leads to the Sedgley player attempting a drop goal which is missed.
Dan looked for the quick restart that Eccles had fallen victim to a couple of weeks ago against Macclesfield but his teammates were not in the same wavelength leaving Dan holding the ball on the centre spot like ‘one of Lewis’ as my nan used to say. Matthew W got the game restarted for Eccles with a good kick into the heart of the Sedgley lines.The ball is collected well by the Sedgley backs who drive forward and in their best move of the half, work the ball wide to their nippy winger who slips past three tackles before being halted in his tracks with a fantastic last man tackle from full back Brad in an action that sees the 1st half brought to a close with Eccles leading by 23 points.
28-5 Half Time
Eccles get the second half started with a kick which is collected by the Sedgley forwards. Sedgley are on the attack and are forcing Eccles back into their own 22. It looks like Eccles are about to concede again early in the second-half but the Sedgley player runs straight into the wall that is Alex H who wraps the player and ball up preventing any further loss of ground. Sedgley are awarded a penalty inside the Eccles 22, they tap and go but are brought to a halt by the Eccles defence. A series of rucks and the ball is turned over by Eccles and is passed wide to Rob who once again shows Sedgley Park a clean pair of heels as he runs the full length of the Eccles pitch to yet again score beneath the posts leaving another simple conversion which Matthew completes.
Sedgley get the game underway again and the ball is collected by Matthew W who breaks forward and gains some good ground before releasing the ball to David who is having a fantastic game today. David shows he’s not afraid to go forward as he forces Sedgley back further 20 m before releasing the ball to the waiting Brad who in a move not dissimilar to the earlier try scored by Chea, weaves his way through a number of Sedgley Park tackles before placing the ball directly beneath the posts. Once again Matthew completes the conversion
The Sedgley Park players are clearly rattled at this point and in a moment of frustration one of the young Sedgley players is presented with a cheese slice along with 10 minutes in the sin bin. Eccles at this point seemed to take their foot off the gas, an error judgement that presented Sedgley with an simple five points but a difficult kick. Fair play to the Sedgley kicker as he converted from wide on the right flank.
Sedgley are back up to 15 players with five minutes of the game remaining but it is Eccles who score again to complete the rout with a fine move that started with some great work from Elliott in the centre who grafts to win the ball from Sedgley, his pass finds Matthew W who in turn finds Rob. Rob makes some good ground but is tackled by a Sedgley defence desperate not to concede again. The ball is recycled and Josh shows his fast hands as he draws in the Sedgley player before releasing the ball out to Max who finds Rob on the overlap. Rob shows tremendous energy so late in the game to once again score beneath the posts for his fourth try of The game. Matthew W makes it seven out of seven with its conversion which brings the game to a close with Eccles a well deserved 37 points clear of their local rivals.
49-12 Full Time
What a fabulous game of rugby we were treated to today from both sides and how far have the boys progressed over the season. Games against Sedgley Park are always well contested affairs with both sides giving no quarter to their opponents. The victory was well won and fully deserved today with every player playing their part, setting the lads up for the tough fixtures that are ahead of us during February at home against Ashton, Sefton and a cup tie away to Rochdale.
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad
Chea C, Daniel A, Joshua G, Alex H, Elliott H, Lewis K, Matt L, Brad P, Joe R, Max R, David S, Robert S, Alex T, Albert T, Matthew W, Jack W, James W, Oliver W
Half Time Score 28 – 5
Full Time Score 49 – 12
Eccles Men of the Match
Players Choice – Joe
Coach Choice – Alex H
Parents Choice – all 18 players
Tries – Robert S x 4, Brad P x 1, Matthew W x 1, Chea C x 1
Conversions – Matthew W x 7
Rob S- 4 try this week, eclipsing the 3 he scored against Bury
Matthew W back from injury to captain the side and stamp his authority on the game with a try and conversion within 2 minutes of kick-off. Seven from seven record of conversions.
David S – I saw you with that tee!!
That lad Wright – he seemed to be everywhere today, even had time to swap his red skull-cap for a black one from time to time.
Dan A again neglected to bring one of his handbags – two games on the run now
My laptop for losing the 1st draft of this report
Scout for making a bid for freedom at kick-off
Leeann Aspinall for a tee infringement