A glorious Autumnal morning saw West Park visit for the 1st game of this seasons Lancashire Cup.
Prior to kick off a minutes silence was impeccably observed by both teams to honour the memory of local humanitarian aid worker Alan Henning
Due to more senior teams playing away the U14s found themselves on the 3rds pitch again however the advantage was always going to be with the away side who had a full 15 plus subs against the bare bones 14 of Eccles. A numerical advantage that would prove to pay dividends for the visitors.
The perfect rugby conditions saw some good early possession from West Park and despite solid defending by Eccles a drive from the West Park forwards saw them open their account with a try out wide – too wide to be converted though.
The strength of Eccles resolve was soon tested again with the West Park forwards forcing the ball beyond the try line following a long period of sustained possession but the commitment and power of the Eccles defence proved victorious as the ball could not be grounded.
More early pressure from the West Park forwards had Eccles pinned back inside their own 22 but great defending from the whole of the Eccles team working as a solid unit saw Matthew collect a loose ball and break beyond the West Park forwards to release Brad who showed tremendous pace and strength to run 3/4 of the pitch to score a debut try under the posts. Uncharacteristically Matthew put the conversion wide having been so lethal last week.
Some poor scrummaging and loose possession from Eccles saw West Park force another try on 15 minutes, this time under the posts leaving a simple conversion.
Again West Park were fast out of the blocks from the restart forcing Eccles to show their defensive capabilities which they did with strong tackles from Josh, David and (of course) Albert. The strength of the West Park forwards together with their numerical advantage began to show towards the end of the 1st half resulting in a couple of converted tries in close succession for the visitors bringing the half to close at 5 – 26; a scoreline that is a poor reflection of the quality of the Eccles defensive play.
Eccles got the second half started following an inspirational half time team talk from Coaches Kevin and James who was resplendent in his 1988 arctic white leg-warmers and were immediately on the offensive with Brad again opening up his legs to burst past the West Park forwards only to be thwarted by some strong defence from the West Park full back.
An injury to one of the Eccles lads gave Coach Kevin the opportunity to break open the recently maligned vaseline from his brand new 1st aid kit.
Strong forward play from West Park inside the Eccles 22 again saw them break through and they were only prevented from scoring by some magnificent last ditch defending from Eccles to force the West Park player off the pitch as he was about to ground the ball. The resulting break from defence by Jack put Eccles on the attack but he found himself surrounded by a resilient West Park defence and without the support that his run had deserved. West Park were fortunate to come away with the ball from this phase of play but were ruthless in their attack on the Eccles backs and despite Josh presenting the crowd with a cracking full moon the West Park lads drove over for another try and simple conversion.
At no point did the Eccles lads allow their heads to drop, possibly for fear of seeing the Josh’s cycle stand again. Nevertheless their positive attitude at the restart put West Park fully on the back foot and with a show of power and strength from Matthew, driving West Park in to their own 22 and releasing the ball to Alex who in turn fed the ball outside to Chea who still had plenty to do but skipped past the West Park defence breaking through a number of tackles to score a thoroughly well deserved try between the posts.
Unfortunately the usually very reliable boot of Matthew put the conversion wide leaving the final score at 10 – 33.
There are many positives to take from the game and the lads should be proud of their second half performance in particular, only losing the second have to a single conversion against a side with an extra man. No doubt Coaches Kevin and James will have seen some aspects of play that need to be worked on over the next two weeks before their next match.
Eccles U14 Vital Statistics
Half Time Score 5-26
Full Time Score 10-33
1st Try Brad
2nd Try Chea
Eccles Men of the Match
Players Choice – Brad
Coach Choice – Jack
Parents Choice – Josh – we’re all over the moon for you Josh
As a treat and also for training purposes Coach Kevin organised tickets for the Sale v Wasps game which has had a fantastic uptake by the lads who will be able to see themselves on TV looking like the cast of St Trinians
The ball – size 4, too small for Matthew
Josh’s keks – 2 sizes too big for Josh