Sunday 23 May, our age-grade teams enjoyed thier fourth week of competitive rugby as our teams visited Leigh and Sale and we welcomed Burnley, Rochdale and Altrincham Kersal to Eccles.
U7s v Leigh (Away)
U8s v Leigh (Away)
Leigh were fantastic hosts who themselves boasted some obvious talent in their ranks – and some pretty flashy footwork.
A special mention for Jenson and Ted who won Eccles’ MOM awards and the sausage rolls Leigh handed out at the end. All of which were terrific on the day.
U9s v Burnley (Home)
U10s v Burnley (Home)
Eccles were quick off the mark with a couple of tries in the opening minutes before a spirited comeback from Burnley breaking down play in the tackle and scoring a couple of tries of their own.
The Burnley team were a mixture of skilled players and players brand new to the game who gave a good account of themselves. Eccles tried to match the visitors physically which made for a good contest between the teams. Eccles being the fitter team, realised there was acres of space down the flanks and started to play with a little more skill, passing the ball across the pitch quickly and using the spaces out wide to attack which made a massive difference to the game. Big learnings from the fixture. All the players put a shift in and enjoyed the competition against a physically strong Burnley side.
U11s v Leigh (Away)
The first 10 minutes was a bit of a crash bang wallop of tries for Leigh and well deserved too due to the amount of accurate passes and support play from their boys. As seems to be Eccles way of late the lads were quick to break down the opposition's tactics at the break and figure out what's needed to succeed in the next 10 mins. Captain Monty was great at reading Leigh's attacking play and confidently made it clear to his side that more passing was needed.The next 10 minutes were a lot closer and the lads confidence grew. Quality tries from Sam, Edward and Bryn picked the lads up and kept their chins high.
New lad Max was like the energiser bunny, his step count must be double anyone else's, he was pretty much involved in all tackles and had a few decent runs with the ball too. Sam and Edward were a real force to be reckoned with, with absolute crunching tackles coming in. Seb thought he'd have a bit of that action and moved in from the wing to give the opposition something to think; his tackling earned him Players' Player of the match and rightly so. Bryn left scorch marks in the grass with his speed, scored his first try and almost had a few more in the bag, not bad for only his second games. Big shout out to Sam, I think we are all going round to his for breakfast next Sunday because what ever he had had him charging through and tackling like a beast. Enough to earn him Coaches' Player of the match. Leigh took the win 17-4, but every one of the Eccles lads grafted and put in a full shift, keeping the pressure on throughout.
Well done boys.
U12s v Leigh (Away)
U15s v Rochdale (Home)
Eccles faced Rochdale on Friday evening in their final game of this shortened campaign in a fixture which was moved from Rochdale’s waterlogged ground to Gorton Street in an eagerly awaited fixture in which Eccles had a strong squad to select from.
The game was again superbly refereed by Mr T. Houghton who gave his legs another airing in the Salford night air and commenced proceedings shortly after 19:00 when Rochdale kicked off to start the game in wet conditions.
The early exchanges were a real battle with both teams displaying strong defences in midfield which ebbed and flowed between teams and set the standard for what turned out to be a really competitive game between two evenly matched sides.
There was some strong running early on from Jack Coz who was making his first appearance of the season after injury, whilst the forwards led by Shayne, Max and Blake were making dents in the opposition defence allowing the backs good ball which was used well by Joe who brought in the strong back line at every opportunity.
The first try of the game was scored by Lucas who had a superb game , he followed the play up field after some more strong work by Eccles and when the ball was moved out Lucas took a great pass and crashed over from 10 yards to the side of the post giving Jack L a straightforward kick to give Eccles a deserved 7-0 lead after 15 mins.
The physicality of the game showed no signs of slowing down and this was evident when the home side lost Harry (broken collarbone) and Max (damaged shoulder rotator cuff) in quick succession which resulted in some changes which showed the depth of the Eccles squad.
Rochdale were showing some great intent with ball in hand and were testing the Eccles defence by moving the ball across their lines even in their own 22 but the navy and white held firm and continued to turn the ball over in the opposition's half which led to Eccles 2nd try of the match. Johnny slid over for a well deserved try as he was a threat all game and didn’t put a foot wrong, so the try was a perfect reward for an excellent all-round display. Jack was unable to add the extras but a 12 – 0 lead reflected the Eccles dominance in the first quarter.
The away side got on the board with a try scored wide, out on their right-hand side following some sustained pressure which was the result of successive penalties. Although the Eccles defence held firm for a good 5 minutes the pressure told. The kick, taken from wide out on the touchline, proved too tight an angle. 14 – 5.
Matt H was continuing to influence the game making yards every time he touched the ball whilst Harry, Cael and Blake controlled the ball well down the middle which freed up space for the ever dangerous Matt G who evaded tackles and went over for the 3rd Eccles try, a just reward for another powerful running performance where Rochdale struggled to contain him throughout the game – the platform was again well set by a dominant forward pack and this time Jack slotted over the extras to leave the game 19 – 5 at half time.
Eccles kicked off for the second half and the game went similar to the first half with Eccles domiating possession and territory. James made yards every time he ran the ball, Ollie put in some dominant defensive work and the introduction of Jake added some zip around the ruck which energised the whole Eccles team.
Rochdale continued to test the Eccles defence out wide but the introduction of Raff on the wing meant this door was closed every time the away side thought they saw a chink of light as he didn’t miss a tackle all night. Equally, Finn also had a great game on the opposite flank.
Josh carried on from previous weeks as he punched holes in the Rochdale defence which resulted in him being named the Man of the Match from the Rochdale coaches, he narrowly lost the post match challenge but the Video Referee may have reversed the decision given how much the opposition Man of the Match split down his front!
Eccles threatened every time they had the ball but massive credit has to go to Rochdale who muscled up and kept the home team out for the entire second half. Sustained attacking presssure could not be converted into points and Eccles attempts to score were twice held up and the determined visitors were forced to ground the ball behind their own line. Despite the rain it was a thoroughly enjoyable contest. FT 19-5.
The match was the perfect way to sign off from the series of post lockdown games and gave glimpses of what a strong side this group of young men can turn into if they continue to work hard as a team, grow as individuals and put in the same effort as they did in this game into every match down the line.
A final mention to all the coaches who worked tirelessly, both during lockdown to keep the lads motivated and since then during the live sessions, where they have moulded a potentially powerful unit and a massive thanks for all the parents who again turned out in numbers and continue to get the lads to training and matches.
Report: Andy Curran. Photos: Maxine. (Team photo: Chris G)