Tue 25 May 2021 20:20

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)

The mighty U7s took to the road for the first time on Sunday. It was great to see the lads warm up with our under 8s whilst Benty barked his orders!
Great numbers again demonstrates the commitment in this squad with new players Harrison, Rafa and Parks enjoying their 2nd consecutive run out. Notable spectators included Parks’ Grandfather who played for Leigh 1st team once upon a time...
Benty, Dan and Dads were impressed by Lucas upon his return, teamed up with stalwarts Archie, Harrison C and Hughie. 
Oliver arrived some time into game 1 (straight from football!) but didn’t waste any time striding over to score. Boris, Augustine, Oscar, Patrick, Finn and Lawder picked up a brace whilst try of the day went to Christian! 
Tenacious defending from Max and Ben put pressure on Leigh all day and Eccles left buzzing with their performances. Bobby was our MoM against Leigh, someone who’s really grown in this squad and focussed on his rugby without losing that cheeky smile! 
Big thanks to Simon from Leigh for a super setup and a great bunch of minis. Our final outing of the season brings Sefton next week before the Mini Revolution enjoys a Summer of fun at Gorton Street.

U8s v Leigh (Away)

The under 8s travelled to Leigh on Sunday full of confidence after some brilliant performances this side of lockdown 2. Slightly down on numbers this week, but Eccles still managed to field 14, and managed to achieve 4 six-a-side games in which the honours were probably shared between hosts and visitors. Handling, passing, running and organisation were the strongest we’ve seen all season, and the coaching team were particularly proud to see support play and some sensational offloads creeping into the game.
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)

The U9s welcomed Burnley to a blustery Gorton Street on Sunday. A week is a long time in politics or so they say, but it’s a long time in rugby too! What a difference that week has made! Each side had 8 players to start with with 2 more Eccles players en route from a league game and the coaches decided to play 8 a side so no one was waiting on the sidelines. Eccles started the game so much brighter and upbeat than in last week's tough game against Tyldesley and soon found their stride, running in the first try.
All the team had heeded the advice and encouragement from Coach Dan after last week's defeat and they passed the ball well with almost everyone getting on the try scoresheet or assisting in the tries scored. Sebastian led the way with 4 magnificent tries.
There were very positive comments from the Burnley coaching team as well as parents from both sides and smiles all round from the players.  Another cracking game of rugby and today’s display shows how far this team has come in the past couple of months with the new players and green shoots are showing through of how the team are becoming more coherent of passing the ball and working to defend their position 
Everyone is looking forward to next week’s game when Bolton visit Eccles for the final game of the season.
Thank you to Burnley for making the trip down to ourselves for a well-balanced , fun and competitive fixture.

U10s v Burnley (Home)

The Eccles U10's welcomed Burnley U10's on Sunday morning. Eccles had a full squad of 10 raring to get some much needed game time. The match was played at U9's rules as the visiting team have not been training or playing with a contested ruck, but this did not stop both teams showing their skill with the ball and in the tackle.

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)

This Sunday saw another tough game for Eccles U11's against a very good Leigh side who had several subs to our 9 men. It was a very fair game with with both sides showing respect to each other and to the referee who did a great job (reluctantly on his Sunday off) and was very understanding of the new Eccles lads not having much experience.

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)

Eccles U12 travelled to Leigh on the back of two tough previous matches against very strong teams (Bolton and Tyldesley). A confidence booster was needed for our much-depleted squad, further hampered by injury (get well soon Andre, Harrison & Ethan!).  However Leigh had no plans to be Eccles cannon-fodder and three tough games ensued. Whilst physically Eccles were more evenly matched than previous week's opponents, Leigh displayed great confidence and fantastic speed in passing which left Eccles standing.
Eccles soon adapted to this, with Josh reprising his role as team captain and giving out incisive directions to his teammates. Tackles began to fly in from Ollie who'd clearly had his wheat-based cereal (*other brands are available) and Ellis perfected his tackling technique - the words "LEGS LEGS LEGGGGGGSSSS!!!!!!!" ringing in his ears. 
Josh completed some excellent cover tackles, including what was described as a 'Super Jackie Chan-Flying tackle' to prevent a further try from Leigh - We'll leave that to your imagination.
Denny's now trade-mark snaking runs inspired new-boy Cian and both scored a brace of excellent tries - great to see!  Highlight of the game was George perfecting his 'box-kicking' to put Leigh under pressure immediately from kick-off - much improved from the previous weeks games - well done George!
Finally a big thank you to Leigh's coaches and parents - Eccles were once again made to feel very welcome and it was noted how Leigh were equal in their support for the Eccles players as their own, referring to the Eccles players by name and giving great feedback to each player after the match - really nice to hear.  Leigh were also very generous in sharing their players to even up the match and their players put in great effort whichever team they were put on - thank you Leigh. We look forward to playing them again

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)

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