On a lovely Sunday morning with perfect weather conditions we had another amazing turnout of 11 under 8s who just seemed to keep arriving in a steady stream
A couple of general comments come to mind before I get into the detail. Firstly, a big well done to the boys for their respectful two minute silence at the half time interval of the first game. Secondly, both games were undertaken, in what turned out to be challenging refereeing conditions. It’s important to point out that every junior team (especially U7s & U8s) is challenged with trying to maintain enthusiasm throughout a game whilst nurturing flowing rugby. Our view is that this can really only be achieved by not being so stringent with stoppage decisions, which although the Bolton referee didn’t seem keen on, I’m glad to say is something we employee regularly at Eccles.
After a long wait and quite a chaotic warm-up whilst waiting for our hosts to decide where we would be playing due to below average organisation, we finally split the lads into 2 teams.
Team: Lewis, Harry, Archie, Ben W, Reece, Josh
Turned out to be a fairly even game with both teams matching the other try for try. Personally, I think we were by far the better team, but the difference between us drawing the game, as we did, and winning was due (on the day) to us uncharacteristically struggling in three defensive areas: lingering, positioning and pressing. Parents, I call upon you to encourage your children to not be so kind! By lingering offside to hand back an opponent’s tag, meant that the defensive line wasn’t being reset quickly enough, thereby allowing Bolton to exploit gaps.
Our second and surprising issue on the day was pressing as a line and quickly. This tended to allow the Bolton team too much space to advance and hit our defence at pace, and on a number of occasions, especially with some big lads, break through and score.
Despite the uncharacteristic defensive issues, I’m pleased to say that the attacking play was generally outstanding. It’s so good to see us mixing up the attacking style now and playing to individual strengths, rather than heading for the corners each time. Lewis and Archie were using their size and power to blast holes (freight train style) through the Bolton defence, resulting in five tries between them and helping to generate some great support play from Ben, Harry and Reece. Ben’s positive support for the runner eventually paid off and he scored a great try from Lewis’ quick release. Reece also added to the score line with a trademark ‘rocket’ run into the corner.
Three stand out tries were from
1) Archie who first demonstrated how effective determined straight running can be with a little step included to score ( he also got warned a couple of times for handing-off and not stopping soon enough when tagged by the rather pick referee – see Sean’s match report!!!).
2) Lewis soon followed suit straight from a kick off and powered his way through the defensive line
3) As per usual, Reece scored one of his trademark long mazy runs where he confuses himself as much as the opposition
A few other close range tries following good support in the tackle but again we tended to group too close at times , making it easier to defend against.
Final score was a diplomatic 8-8, which is a good reflection of an evenly matched game with some great rugby played by both teams.
STAR OF THE WEEK is split between Lewis and Archie (no nepotism there!!) for great defensive organisation and strong straight running…well done boys!
Team: Zac, Ben H, Mitchell, Lucas, Charlie
This was definitely my game of the day and a fantastic all round team performance. Ben and Zac, in particular, were thorns in the side of the Bolton team with their outstanding ‘up and at them’ defensive pressure, not giving the opposition a chance to get into any flow. In particular Ben, who was clearly on a mission to be responsible for every single tag, made the most of a spilt ball by Bolton and promptly took possession and scored at the other end. With Sean’s guidance, or in Zac’s case, the threat of never being allowed home again, the defensive line remained solid for the entire match only conceding two tries.
Attacking play was equally as good with a double from Zac and Ben, complimented by tries from Lucas, Mitchell and Charlie. Particularly impressing was the speed at which the ball was continually offloaded when Bolton made a tag, giving the opposition little time to organise themselves.
Whilst the game was frustratingly cut short, Eccles were comfortably in the lead 7-2
STAR OF THE WEEK – Ben H for a complete performance. Well done!
Finally we must reiterate and thank the lads and parents from both teams for an impeccably observed minutes` silence – excellent.
Next week is a training session at Gorton Street, 10:30 start.
Martin & Gav