Eccles Senior Colts 14 Sefton 5, Lancashire Snr Colts Cup Semi-Final
I once heard Joe Theismann describe a key moment in a game when the pressure is on and only the best will do as ďwhen it comes to the nut cuttingĒ well today we had a real tough nut to crack. Two previous cup wins against sides from higher leagues had set up a Lancashire Colts semi-final against Sefton. The two league games against Sefton had resulted in a 12-12 draw at home and a 22-20 defeat in the away game. So both teams knew each other well, and an outstanding performance was going to be required if Eccles were going to progress to the final.
The first half started in the same fashion it chose to maintain with Sefton on the tip toes of the front foot and Eccles gamely holding its thin blue line. Sefton constantly asked questions of the Eccles defence with some smart kicking and forceful running but a positive reply by the Eccles team was always produced until a succession of mistakes by the Eccles side lead to Sefton working a try in the far right corner. First blood to Sefton 0-5.
They say you can tell the quality of a man by the way he responds to adversity, and respond these lads did. As the first half came to an end Eccles hard work was rewarded with a penalty well inside the Sefton 22. For some reason only known to the person who called it, it was decided to take a scrum instead of kicking the points. As you would expect the scrum was messed up and Eccles found themselves inside their own 22. This kept the score at half time to 0-5.
As the sides turned round, so it appeared did their fortunes. The Eccles boys started to show they were up for it, and a bit more. It was now the turn for Sefton to be on the back foot and Eccles to apply all the pressure. Gaining another kickable pen Eccles chose to take the kick. Alas the attempt rather than trouble the scoreboard only managed to worry the worms as it hug the grass tops. However, the pressure was maintained, the boys didnít give up and soon another penalty was awarded which this time was tapped too quickly and another scoring opportunity was lost.
After all this adversity you would have expected heads to drop and composure to be lost. But not this bunch of lads, after all they had the support of the Eccky shed. Following a quick word across the ĺ line a diagonal kick was placed, dropping on the Sefton try line. With the Sefton players unable to deal with the bouncing ball Matt Parkinson arrived on the scene to take charge of events. Leaping like a Salmon he claimed the ball in the air, however he then chose to practise some juggling skills, I didnít know he had, and as he fell to the ground he managed to regain control of the ball just as it hit the ground and made the touchdown. Breaths were momentarily held until the referee raised his arm to signify the try was good. Bedlam erupted. The conversion was made good by Chris Finch who had managed to find the right golf club this time for the shot.
With Eccles in the ascendency pressure was maintained in the Sefton half and after a series of crafty kicks by the backs and driving runs by the forwards we eventually saw Tom Dutton go over to extend the Eccles lead. Again the conversion was made good by Chris Finch who had clearly sorted out his golf bag.
With the score at 14-5, Sefton had no option but to mount a series of adventurous attacks which were once again met by the thin blue line of Eccles players, only this time the line got thicker with every tackle made. You could almost hear the call, ďfor Eccles, Billy and St GeorgeĒ. The game came to a close with Sefton mounting one final attack on the Eccles line and the lads meeting the challenge to a man.
With the final whistle Eccles rejoiced and Sefton to a man accepted the fates and bode the Eccles team well in the final. To my mind a great sporting gesture and deserves all the credit I can give.
A cool headed performance by James Wright, the captain of the ship, unseen dog work by all the forwards especially Jordan Bromley, numerous tackles and chasing by the backs and snipping runs by Chris Finch all made the day possible. But the man of the match by a country mile and a few fields more was Reece James who ran all day, tackled whatever came near him and gave 200% effort. The lad really wanted it.
So the coaches are being booked, tailored suits on order and a day out in Wigan (not quite the same ring to it as Wembley) for the final. And the opponents, West Park. For those who have been following these reports youíll know what this means. If in doubt, look at the coltís notice board in the clubhouse. Itís still there because it made Carolyn cry and I still get goose bumps when I read it.
Now a week ago four of the colts played in the 1st team away to Blackburn and yesterday we had three of them in the 1st team playing against TocH. Add to that the numerous colts who have played for the 1stís, 2ndís and 3rdís this season youíll understand the commitment and importance to the club the lads extend is without question. So, we need you all there at Wigan to return the complement, Sunday 6th May, be there, there are no excuses.
Source: Eccles RUFC.
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