Who said it was never going to be easy, apart from me just know. Yes we all did, as the senior colts approached this season with the bare minimum of numbers and no junior colts side from the season before to supplement the squad. And so it was that with another away game, this time at Waterloo, the game lads managed to get together a team of 14 men, and one of them was young Sean Baines willing as ever to make the step up from this year’s Junior Colts. Maybe it was also a little note of thanks for Matt Parkinson for helping out the Junior Colts last week in their friendly away to Oldham. Anyway with 14 men that was considered a luxury compared to the 12 against Broughton Park and the 13 against Vale and so off we went to find Waterloo. Now a word of advice here, when you need directions for a club there is one person best not ask, namely Billy “the Bullet” Borrett. As far as he was concerned Waterloo was either somewhere near Liverpool airport, a London train station, or a small town in Belgium, oh and I’ve just remembered the Abba reference as well.
For once we all arrived in good time and declared the level of our resources to the home side management. Now what happened next was one of those moments that gives you a warm glow inside. As the lads were preparing themselves mentally for the contest with one short we had a knock on the door and in walked the Waterloo Manager with one of his lads who was up for helping us out and making up our numbers. Not only that, we also found out as the game went on he wasn’t half bad at all.
The game itself started badly with Ben Chapman being taken out in the air as he received the kickoff and for the rest of the half complained about his bad back. However this little set back did not dishearten the lads as they got stuck into the game and very soon registered a try by Ewan Roberts from a driving maul following an attacking lineout. 0 – 5.
Now Waterloo aren’t going to be a soft touch and they soon came back at the lads and nearly scored as one player lost the ball as he crossed the try line. Very soon after the pressure told and the Eccles line was eventually breached, twice with one try being converted. 12 – 5.
In response the Eccles lads came back and got stuck in as we would expect and started to put pressure on the home side’s line, alas as we approached the half time whistle Waterloo managed to score a breakaway try following a desperate clearance kick as Eccles were scenting blood. Halftime score 17 – 5.
At half time a few words were needed in a few directions to help galvanise the players. We also had the inevitable effect of Ben Chapman’s injury as he was unable to take any more part in the game, he was clearly protecting his batting average if you ask me.
Now the last thing you want in such circumstances is to concede another soft try which Eccles did as the score moved to 22 – 5. The words spoken now were a bit more heated and passionate and they seemed to work as Eccles came straight back at the home side, putting them under pressure in their own 22, James Wright intercepted a lose pass and went over close to the sticks for Reece James to convert. 22 – 12.
You would think this would have got the show back on the road, alas these are a strange bunch of lads, as straight from the restart Waterloo were allowed to claim the ball and run in another try which was converted. 29 – 12. Now the words being spoken got white hot as James Wright’s voice eventually broke. No more “Wings of a Dove” for him. So back they came as this Eccles team always does, first we had a great run by “Homer” Cranston being denied by just stepping onto the touch line and then following great play by all, Matt Parkinson managed to force his way over for a try which Reece James converted. 29 – 19.
Again the up mood was soon broken as the home side were allowed to score another try to make it 34 – 19. Now it was Eccles turn to respond straight from the restart as they gathered possession and laid siege. Moving the ball quickly from a series of tackles they were quickly rewarded with a Reece James try which he also converted. 34 – 26. This time the restart was taken cleanly and Eccles progressed up the pitch to mount more attacks. The pressure on the home side was telling as a series of penalties to Eccles kept the momentum going and a quick tap, nowhere near the mark I have to say, by Reece James allowed him to go over for his second of the day. 34 – 31 and only a few minutes to play.
Taking the restart again Eccles started to march up the pitch looking for blood, alas the clock was not with them and the final whistle was blown with the boys in blue and white looking for the winner. Final score 34 – 31, and a great game to watch.
As I said to the lads after the game a great comeback and excellent character shown in the last 20 minutes, however the mistakes beforehand need to be resolved and can only be done by themselves. Now despite the referee’s comments that the Eccles outside centre was outstanding I’ll bring him back to earth by blaming him for missing 2 of the 5 conversions.
Finally, and I have purposely left this to the end to give him star billing, a big thanks to Connor Wilson from Waterloo for helping us out, he never stopped giving his all and always had a word of encouragement for the lads, a great lad in himself.