U15’s v Bolton RUFC – It was the best of halves, it was the worst of halves

We have come across Bolton on a number of occasions over the last few years and have always competed well but have struggled to turn our competitive spirit in to a victory. We only came across todays visitors once last season and despite playing extremely well in the Blacksticks Vase Final our boys we’re beaten by a clear 16 points.

Since the end of last season Bolton have strengthened their squad with some of their new players making an immediate impression as they chalked up an impressive 57 – 5 win away at Bury RUFC. Eccles would need to be at the top of their game again to get their Blacksticks season off to a positive start.

Bolton got the match underway with a kick deep into the Eccles half. A sea of Cherry Red shirts pressed forward and, complete with rucksacks and tents Bolton set up camp deep inside the Eccles half. A series of quality attacking moves from Bolton coupled with a sleepy defensive display from Eccles gifted Bolton four tries, three of which were converted during a poor half from the Eccles perspective.

Eccles were too slow to support of the man with the ball, not strong enough in the ruck and persistently found themselves losing possession after working hard to find good positions on the pitch. In short, Bolton were much better and deserved to be ahead at the break.

Half Time 0 – 24

At this rate the game could be over for Eccles within 10 minutes of the restart as Bolton only need 16 more unopposed points to achieve the 40 point gap that closes off a Blacksticks tie.

During the half time break Coach James broke out the BaByliss Pro and gave the Eccles lads the full 2100w of ‘what on earth is going on out there?

In true bad cop, bad cop style, Coach Kevin cranked up his Nicky Clarke 2500 Vitesse and reminded the lads who they were representing and that they were to get back out there and win the second half.

Back in my day the coach would have handed out a few straighteners and they wouldn’t have been GHD’s.

Eccles made a few changes as they got the second half started but had to have a rethink as Alex T jarred the knee of his Happy-Kicking leg in the scrum forcing an early return to the action for Oliver W.

The first 10 minutes of the second half seemed to paint a similar story to the first half as Bolton continued where they had left off. But Eccles began to find their feet and were soon on the offensive, driving Bolton back towards their own try line. All the things we had failed to do in the first half seemed to be at the forefront of the Eccles lads newly formed quiffs as first Ed H then Max R then Dan G take turns to run the ball in to the Bolton defensive line before finally Albert T finds the ball in his hands as he drives over for Eccles first try of the day. Matthew W completes the move with (for him) a simple conversion

7 – 24

Eccles are well on top at this point and look like they may be able to claw their way back in to the tie but its Bolton who respond first with two quick converted tries to leave Eccles trailing 7 – 38.

Tiredness and frustration led to one of the Bolton lads being treated to a Kraft Cheese Slice and a 10 minute rest in the bin from todays referee

Max R saw his game come to a premature conclusion as he took a knock to the face. Max was keen to rejoin the game but we couldn’t find a clothes peg for his nose.

Eccles rallied and were soon back pressing for points. With a fine run from inside his own 22, Matthew W gained valuable ground before being forced in to touch deep inside the Bolton half. Eccles turn the ball over from the Bolton line out and in the best move so far from Eccles the ball is passed through the Eccles Backs before being collected by Brad P who takes the ball to ground with Joe R in support, Joe R takes a shoulder to the nose but not before passing out from the ruck to find Harry C who takes the ball forward before releasing Brad P to weave his way through the Bolton defense before passing to Matt W to score an excellent Eccles try right in the corner.

12 – 38

We are treated to a fine display of handbags and purses from Bolton as frustrations briefly spilled over; Mathew W thought he was about to have a dinner date in his diary as ‘take out the number 10’ was heard across the pitch.

Eccles continued to put pressure on the Bolton lines with a series of attacks and it wasn’t long before Bolton were back on their own try line desperately holding off the tenacious Eccles forwards. Bolton show their strength and force Eccles back 20 metres but fast hands from Jack W sees the ball sent wide towards Joe R who manages to hold on to the loose ball and due to an earlier knock on the head he strides forward instead of the more familiar sideways run and supported outside by Brad P scores in the corner. Matt W stepped forward to convert with a fantastic kick from a very tight angle

19 – 38

A tug on the collar from Ed H saw us treated to an Austrian Lederhosen Slap Dance routine as a desperate search in the pocket of a bright yellow shirt for Ed’s bright yellow card ensued. Ten (or so) minutes in the bin for Ed

As the clock ran down Eccles looked the fresher of the two teams and their fitness showed as David S left everyone in his wake as he carried the ball 25 metres into the Bolton half before being stopped by a small pack of Bolton Forwards. James W was first to support David as he picked up the ball and drove on a further 10 metres before finding Dan G who was having another great game. Eccles had Bolton pinned back yet again on their own try line but couldn’t force the ball over until Alex H with the last action of open play used all of his strength and determination to break through the Bolton line and score beneath the posts leaving Matthew W the straightforward conversion and bring the game to a close

Full Time 26 – 38

As Charles Dickens once penned in his Paris v London match report of 1859, this was truly a game of two halves with Bolton dominating the first half as their Number 10 called the shots and controlled midfield leading to three tries inside ten very poor minutes for Eccles. Bolton continued their dominance and brought the half to a close 24 points ahead with Eccles yet to register a point. Although Bolton scored two very good tries, the second half belonged to the lads of Eccles who’s strength, determination and character saw them run in four tries and create a number of opportunities in a game that was all but over for them at half time. Fantastic second half performances from the likes of Harry C, James W, David S, Brad P and others saw Eccles close the gap as Bolton failed to close the game out. But it was the lapses in concentration at key moments of the first half that were to prove costly for Eccles and despite the encouragement of their coaches and the bumper crowd they found themselves 12 points behind at the final whistle.

Eccles U15’s Vital Statistics

Todays Eccles Squad

Harry C, Chea C, Dan G, Joshua G, Ed H, Alex H, Matthew L, Brad P, Joe R, Max R, David S, Rob S, Alex T, Albert T, Matthew W (Capt), Jack W, James W, Oliver W

Half Time Score 0 – 24

Full Time Score 26 – 38

Eccles Men of the Match

Players Choice – Harry C

Coach Choice – Harry C

Parents Choice – James W

Try Scorers – Albert T, Matt W, Joe R, Alex H

Conversions – Matt W 3 from 4

Notable Mentions

Coach to Prop conversation –

Josh “we’ve only got 7″

Coach James “count yourself as well, you moron”

Josh “Oh yeah, we’ve got 8”

The feisty impact of Dan A against his school chums was missed today due to his recent bout of Graham Rountree but he still turned up to run the line. Thanks Dan.

David S had another good game today, particularly during the last 10 minutes when he carried the ball a good 25m through the Bolton lines

What a fantastic crowd we had today; the whole length of the pitch was taken by dozens, all vocal in support of the lads.

Wishing Alex T and Max R speedy returns from injuries sustained today

Naughty Step

Todays timings we’re monitored by Simon Hardman and John ‘saddle sore’ Williams. Thankfully the timings weren’t critical as there was a two minute delta between the two of them

Ed H’s 10 minutes in the bin we’re measured in dog years – “sorry I forgot; he’s back on now though”

Stuart L for not selecting Billy Twelvetrees or Danny Cipriani

And Finally

It was Joe’s birthday last weekend and he received an unsigned birthday card. When he opened it loads of rice fell out. We think its from Uncle Ben

No no, thank you!