After multiple recent trips to Cheshire & last weeks jaunt over the Pennines to Buxton, we set off on a jolly boys outing to the far reaches Northern Lancashire with the U15 lads of Eccles RFC to take on Vale of Lune RUFC in the second Blacksticks fixture of the season at the Powderhouse Lane ground.
The weather had done its very best to force a postponement of the fixture but the Vale of Lune groundsmen had done a sterling job to provide a decent enough playing surface for the lads.
The wind was howling from the direction of the clubhouse and Eccles won the toss (very much thinking of leaving the match report here, while Eccles are still ahead) and elected to play with the wind at their backs.
The first five to ten minutes were a very even affair with both sides finding it difficult to break the other down. Early on Vale looked to be through as they broke wide but a fine tackle by Joey Eccles thwarted the attack and the follow up from Brad P ensured the Vale player made no further progress.
A lot of huff and puff from Eccles during the first half and some fine defensive work prevented Vale from grounding the ball on at least two occasions. This hard work came to nothing though as on three occasions in the first half Eccles were found wanting in the scrum inside their own 22 and on each occasion Vale scored good, but preventible tries.
Eccles suffered throughout the first half with some unusually poor handing, having the ball turned over in the ruck on countless occasions (similar to last week at Buxton). A few injuries including a broken thumb (Alex T) forced early Eccles substitutions and unsettled the rhythm of the Eccles game
Vale of Lune made the most of their opportunities scoring three opportunistic tries but were foiled by the high winds when it came to the extra two points. Vale are a very fast and physical side, the handled the ball better and were more composed than Eccles which was reflected in the half time scoreline
Half Time 0 – 15
Fifteen points down isn’t insurmountable and Eccles looked like they were up for the challenge as they got the second half started, but it was Vale who were to open the scoring with a try in the corner. Again the wind played its part as the conversion drifted wide of the uprights
20 – 0
Eccles continue to work hard in an endeavour to find a foothold in the game. Great work from the likes of Kieron R, Brad P, Dan G, Ellis P, Harry C and Cameron B drive Vale back deep in to their own half. Just as it looked as though Vale may concede another Eccles handling error sees the Vale winger pick up the loose ball and sprint clear of the exhausted Eccles players to score unopposed under the posts. A real opportunity for a conversion this time which is taken
27 – 0
Vale further extend their lead with another try almost from the restart.
32 – 0
Eccles are in danger of succumbing to a Blacksticks whitewash as Vale are just eight points off the required 40. From the restart Eccles look strong and it is powerful running from Albert T that drives Vale back towards their own try line. Eccles recycle the ball and drive again at the Vale lines. Matt L collects the ball but is tackled, the ball is passed wide to the unsuspecting James W who seems to stop momentarily before stepping inside the full back and reaching for the line to score for Eccles. A great try for James W (not good enough to convince his spectating twin brother Oliver to vote for him as MoM though). The weather played its part in again preventing a conversion.
32 – 5
Eccles were on the scoresheet with less than two minutes to play but even in this short amount of time Vale showed their superiority on the day by running in a seventh and final try with the last play of the game
Full Time 37 – 5
Seven tries to one isn’t a great outcome for Eccles however we’d have definitely settled for this twelve months ago. Vale of Lune are without doubt one of the best sides we have played and currently remain unbeaten all season. Eccles never really looked like changing this statistic today but were far from humiliated. Eccles played well for the first half but were dogged by injuries meaning the game plan devised by the coaches had to be thrown out of the window early on. Vale scored all three first half tries straight from the scrum and with (quite a bit of) good fortune, Eccles could have gone in at half time 0 – 0. During the second half Eccles seemed to tire while the Vale lads still looked fresh. Eccles scored a good team try at the end of the second half but also conceded four. Not many teams will come to Powderhouse Lane and give as good an account of themselves as Eccles did today. Well done Vale of Lune and thank you for your hospitality.
We don’t have a fixture in the book for next Sunday, so it may be a week off or more likely training. The following Sunday our visitors will be Orrell RUFC who recently lost to Ormskirk RFC but were convincing winners the week before against Garstang RFC. Orrell are a good side and hopefully will be a good test for our lads
Eccles U15’s Vital Statistics
Todays Eccles Squad (22 strong + 4 players watching)
- Josh G – Loose Head Prop
- David S – Hooker
- Ellis P – Tight-Head Prop
- Alex T – Second Row
- James W – Second Row
- Joe R – Blind-Side Flanker
- Albert T – Open-Side Flanker
- Alex H – Number Eight
- Dan G – Scrum-Half
- Harry C – Fly Half
- Rob S – Left Wing
- Cameron B – Inside Centre
- Chea C – Outside Centre
- Brad P – Right Wing
- Matthew W (Capt’n) Full-Back
Substitutes together with squad members who came along to support
Ed H, Matt L, Jack W, Adam A, Max R, James F, Kieron R, Shea S, Dan A, Archie H, Oliver W
Half Time Score 15 – 0
Full Time Score 37 – 5
Eccles Men of the Match
Players Choice – Brad P
Coach Choice – Kieron R
Parents Choice – Brad P
Eccles Try Scorer – James W
Excellent bacon and sausages were available at the club which is always a winner – bit pricey though compared to some other clubs we’ve visited
Welcome back to our regular scrum half Dan Gogh who came on from the bench and made an instant impact with his quick tap routine.
Alex H continued his great run of form with another excellent display.
Definitely a game where the Eccles backs stepped up to the plate with Chea, Matthew W, Harry C and Brad P all having great games from the start; Jack W and Max R making an impact when they were called upon
Congratulations to Kieron R on his well deserved Coaches Man of the Match
Poor old Alex T – once again he has busted his thumb and will be out for a good few weeks. My theory is that his thumb has become weakened from excessive Xbox use. Best of luck with a speedy recovery Alex
The Vale of Lune ground staff deserve a mention for providing a really good pitch to play on despite the recent weather
Blacksticks squad rules for forcing Coaches Kevin and James to make difficult choices
Martin Thornton for cleverly swerving linesman duties at the expense of Chris Lee
Not the greatest match report today but I had to rush it through because Lindsay forgot that her car is diesel and put unleaded in. She’s so forgetful I reckon she could arrange her own surprise party.