The U12s were met with near perfect conditions in the sleepy suburbs of Lymm…. until we were moved over onto the adjacent pitch which resembled a Flanders muddy field!
Not to worry as the coaches explained, both teams have to play on the same surface!
So, at last we had a game of rugby ….. and what a decent game! Both teams looked to move the ball from the first whistle as the forwards not only secured decent ruck ball, they also exploited the rare opportunity to ‘pick and go’ from the base of the contact area, thanks to the Lymm referee asserting a tactic to encourage both teams to play attacking rugby.
With Captain Lucas electing to kick, it was Eccles who applied the initial early pressure as Jack and Lucas himself chased Ollie’s kick off which hung beautifully in the air; remarkable given the stodgy surface he had to lift the ball from!
Lymms’ defence held strong though as they realised they had to think quickly to mount any serious early attacks.
Joe had some varied options from scrum half with Shayne and Max hitting the gain line well. It was James though who took the challenge deep into the heart of the Lymm defence with some magnificent and effective carries.
Finn occupied his favoured role of hooker and once more showed how his rucking game is developing. Lewis and Johnny looked to cover the only patches of grass out on the flanks as they awaited the ball be shuffled wide.
It was Lymm however who took the first points of the day after a moments hesitation in the Eccles defence saw an attack seep through the gap. 1-0 Lymm.
From the restart Eccles knew they had to raise the intensity otherwise it could have been a long day ahead!
Jack took a great pass from Lucas and burst through to evade the tackle. As he hit the contact, Evan, Shayne and Matt cleaned out for Joe to scoop the ball and shuffle it left.
As the ball found Johnny, he broke the gain line only to suffer a heavy knock that saw him taken from the mud bath. On came Adam to add his fizz on the wing!
Lymm took the next score to make it 2-0 but this only spurned the boys into some tremendous tackling and counter-rucking.
Ollie put in a great tackle as the Lymm winger looked for an odds-on try down the right. He did everything right into the contact and stopped the attack instantly.
The ball then popped up for Lucas to hit Matt with a fine flat pass. Still with some work to do, Matt changed the ball for one hand to the other as he handed off the defender before creating the gap to pull a score back for Eccles. 2-1
Once more from the re-start, the ball was sent high again by Ollie as Adam sprinted up to collect on the bounce! (you see now why we insist on pressuring the re-starts!) With the pack securing the pill for Joe, he shipped it left for Max to carry it up. As the Lymm defence floundered a little, it was Adam who took possession again to sweep away for a well deserved score. The boys were in the ascendance now and looking to stretch into a lead. With the halftime break looming, the commitment into attack again created a gap in the Eccles defence for Lymm to exploit. 3-2
A real good first half carried over into the second period and the half-time changes didn’t disrupt the game plan for Eccles. Cameron came on for Evan and Carter slotted into the mid-field along side Jack to create a solid partnership. ‘Taz’ came in for Finn who had a superb first half game.
Wit the score board so finely balanced, both teams upped their game as Eccles clawed away through some great drives into the Lymm defence. Shayne was so unlucky not to reap the rewards of a strong driving maul as he was held up just short of the line. The mistakes were always going to be punished and the Eccles boys showed very few. Ollie hit the gain line to try and get his team on the front foot; Lewis took a great catch from a high ball to set up another Eccles attack; Jake started all fired-up with some superb body angles in the rucks; Max carried hard and Matthew was constantly threatening; Cameron got his hands on the ball a number of times to secure possession.
It was a lapse in concentration though the gifted Lymm their next score.
With the attack moving wide, the Eccles defence looked to push the Lymm threat out towards touch. The winger still had a some work to do in the heavy conditions and he was rewarded with a neatly taken try right in the corner to make it 4-3 Lymm.
From the restart, again Eccles applied some heavy pressure. James, having his best game in an Eccles shirt, drove hard and presented the ball for Joe who found Lucas. With Jack on his shoulder, Lucas gave a short delivery as Jack plundered up-field.
The try line was coming nearer and nearer and the watching parents and spectators (including an Eccles 1st team prop as well as an ex-Lancashire Capt) urged Jack forwards. The ball then came back in-field as Matt latched onto it. He just couldn’t get through the space as the closing minutes saw a tense finale deep in the Lymm half.
It wasn’t to be however, and on the final whistle, the jubilation and despair from both teams told the story!
A great game with total commitment and I’m sure both teams would relish the opportunity to take each other on again on a more accommodating playing surface!
Well done to all!
- Thanks to Vicky for the match stats and oranges at half time.
- Thanks to Neil from Lymm for the match day invitation.
Coaches Comments: A real toe-to-toe between a couple of heavy weights given the conditions under foot! Both teams tried to play open rugby and the score line reflected this in the end. With a little more concentration on the ‘game’ these boys will turn tight contests in their favour as they are learning that results are starting to be dictated by single errors or lapses in concentration. Their ability is unquestioned. We just need to remain focused on being sharper at the right times….. this will come! Proud of them!
- Comedy moment of the day: The pitch! Joe having spent 30 minutes in the showers only to come out, though washed, wearing the soiled kit he’d played in!
- Naughty step: ‘Taz’ with his desire to pirouette whilst holding onto an opponents shirt collar!! oops!
- Eccles’ Squad:
Lucas (Capt), Ollie, Finn, Carter, Matthew, Max, Cameron, Jake, Lewis, Evan, Joe, Jack, Shayne, James, Johnny
TRAINING THIS WEDNESDAY 07th Feb; 6.30pm …….. all welcome including players new to the game!