Bowdon 2nds 22 – 21 Lymm Eagles
Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday January 27 2024
Eagles Just Miss Out in Bowdon Mud Fest
Lymm Eagles travelled to Bowdon on Saturday, determined to redress their 26 – 42 home loss. earlier in the season. With a few younger legs available for selection this week, skipper Ollie Brown made a few important changes to his playing squad, aimed at combining the best of youthful speed and exuberance with dogged strength and experience. In the event, the very sticky, muddy condition of the pitch, which in parts resembled the Somme (and before you ask, no I wasn’t there in 1914!) proved to be a very levelling and deciding factor in the outcome.
Lymm arrived at Bowdon and were pleasantly surprised to see a packed car park and a good number of spectators. Unfortunately their delight was short lived when it was pointed out that Bowdon 1XV was also at home, hosting Birkenhead Park. Accordingly, the Eagles were consigned to the pitch furthest from the clubhouse and reached down an attractive, high sided country lane and across a couple of muddy fields. The extent of the mud and standing water was such that, by the time they reached the pitch, most of the players on both sides looked like they had already played the first half.
As the default touch judge for the Eagles, I enquired as to the whereabouts of the pitch markings as, other than some vague perimeter lines, most of them seemed to have gone missing. To be fair, the Bowdon lads said that it was remarkably difficult to paint onto wet mud and that the pitch flags should be a good enough guide.
The pitch itself was very sloped along its length. Bowdon won the toss and opted to play downhill kicking to Lymm. The ball was taken cleanly by the Eagles, but for a second it looked like no one was going to be able to move off the mark having been stood still in the mud for the last few minutes.
Hooker, Craig Capewell, led the forward charges up the slope very effectively, closely supported by lock forwards Ben Stroud and George Harrison who continued to make good ground. However, it was difficult to maintain any decent momentum in the forward drives due to the adhesive nature of the mud and the difficulty in gaining grip underfoot. Attempts to recycle the ball out to the Eagles backs were also quickly snuffed out by the advancing Bowdon players who were able to use the slope to their advantage.
For the first 30 minutes or so both teams struggled to get out of mid field and into the opposition 22m. Lots of fumbles and ball spillage led to lots of scrums for knock ons and both teams were pretty evenly matched with most balls being won with the head. However, this scribe was particularly pleased to see the Referee penalise several instances of blatant “feeding” in the scrum by Bowdon, which seems to be an unfair and illegal technique unfortunately prevalent in the game at all levels. Some ex loose head prop commentators (me!) feel that it should be punishable by a minimum of at least one red card!
Due to the difficulties encountered in trying to sprint and get up to speed, both teams tended to use long kicks to gain distance and territory on the pitch. However, with many kicks reaching touch, it soon became clear that the Bowdon lineout had very well drilled jumpers and with good communication was extremely effective, hardly missing any catches on their own throw in. However, with the benefit of his laser beam vision, the referee was very quick to penalise any throw in deemed to have not been absolutely straight with almost millimetre accuracy.
Eventually, after looking dangerous on several occasions, the Bowdon winger managed to make a decent break down the blind side covering many metres but was hauled down by a great flying tackle from centre Reece Forrest. Close support by Bowdon worked the ball into the centre of the field where their fly half took the ball at speed to dive over close to the posts to open the score with a converted try at 33 mins (7 – 0).
Lymm were stung into action by this score and gained good possession shortly after the restart. With short passes and safe hands Lymm slowly but surely worked their way up the pitch and after making several earlier brave attempts at scoring, powerhouse No.8 Max Ure, took the ball from 10m out to crash over for a great individual try under the posts which was converted by McEvoy. (7 – 7). The referee blew for half time about a minute later.
Half Time: Bowdon 2nds 7 – 7 Lymm Eagles
With the benefit of the downhill slope in the second half, Lymm were keen to use it to their advantage. Only a couple of minutes from the kick off, Lymm were awarded a penalty about 30m out and which was judged to be within kicking range by full back Ric McEvoy. Although this scribe is not usually a fan of penalty kicks, given the difficulty both teams appeared to be having in scoring from open play, it was perhaps not an unreasonable option at this stage of the game. Unfortunately, it proved to be the wrong choice as the ball drifted to the left of the offside post.
Unfortunately, although both packs of forwards were working well and uninjured, the referee was having to reset virtually every scrum due to collapsing in the slippery conditions. For safety reasons, he requested that all scrums from now on should be uncontested. In fact this was not really of detriment to either team as they were very evenly matched with honours even.
Both sets of forwards continued to try to wrestle for possession in the mud giving rise to many “pings” from the referee for a whole raft of offences primarily associated with the difficulty in extracting the ball from beneath the ungainly pile of bodies.
Eventually, the well lubricated ball managed to squirt sideways out of the maul on the opposite side to the referee and straight into the hands of the waiting Bowdon full back. He needed no invitation to scamper through a gaping hole in the Lymm defence and touch down near the corner for an unconverted try on 56 minutes. (12 – 7).
At this stage it looked like Bowdon’s heads went up and Lymm’s heads went down as only 2 minutes later, a ball kicked through at low level by Bowdon, stopped almost dead in the mud and so did not travel anywhere near as far as the pair of covering Lymm players had estimated. This allowed the chasing Bowdon player to run through, collect his own kick and continue untouched for 30m to score under the posts. The conversion put the score at (19 – 7).
Once again, Lymm were galvanised into action and straight from the restart, the Lymm front row gained well worked possession and managed to offload the ball to flying centre Tom Graham who was already motoring at top speed. With over 30m to the line he managed to swerve gracefully around 3 tackle attempts to score close enough to the posts to be converted by the accurate boot of McEvoy. (19 – 14).
With 3 tries in almost as many minutes it was now definitely game on with Lymm now playing with a bit more spirit and self-belief. The next 15 minutes saw both teams struggle to get decent possession without causing any infringement which would give the referee another excuse to blow his whistle which he seemed to be doing with increasing frequency. The reasons for the offences were often not clear and led to much puzzlement from players and spectators alike. It was probably not surprising therefore, that Bowdon opted to successfully kick a penalty from about 25m out on 73 minutes out to bring the score to (22-14) and leave Lymm needing two scores to win.
With time running out, Lymm had once ace left to play in the shape of speedy winger Liam “Sully” Sullivan who until now had been denied any real opportunity to open his legs and show his class! A good rumbling drive from the Lymm pack sucked in more Bowdon players to slow down the advance which allowed scrum half Kinsey to whip the ball round to the blind side and pass quickly to Sully. A lovely sidestep bypassed the approaching Bowdon winger and full back to give a score under the posts, converted by McEvoy (22 – 21).
The referee announced that there were 90 seconds left on the clock from the restart. A furious chase up the pitch by the whole Lymm team, put Bowdon under severe pressure, resulting in them conceding 3 penalties in quick succession keeping the whistle from the referee’s lips. As a last ditch attempt to reverse the result, the ball was kicked long and high from midfield by fly half Alan Reddecliff towards the Bowdon 5m line near the corner, whilst a speeding Sully sprinted flat out towards its landing point. Unfortunately, the foot race was won by the closer Bowdon full back who safely gathered the ball to shout “Mark”.
The referee immediately blew the whistle for full time. (22 – 21). Phew!
Full Time: Bowdon 2nds 22 – 21 Lymm Eagles
Not really a classic game or performance from the Eagles by any means but all the players gave a good account of themselves given the difficult playing conditions underfoot. Both teams were very well matched, as evidenced by the scoreline and all should be commended for playing such a competitive, good spirited game.
Very difficult to decide on a man of the match this week. In the forwards, Craig Capewell was everywhere with or without the ball and George Harrison provided sterling support. Max Ure had his usual storming performance and managed a great individual score. We just hope his pulled hamstring is better by next week.
As a footnote: In the absence of Skipper Ollie Brown who had to shoot off straight after the game, Rick McEvoy was volunteered as his replacement to take part in a 4 way pint + short drinking challenge against the Bowdon First Team, Bowdon Second Team and Birkenhead Park First Team.
Man of the Match. I am happy to report that the Lymm Representative won the race by a considerable margin. Well done Ollie (Ric). Lymm are away next week but only just down the road Wilmslow. 14:15 KO, All most welcome.
Team: 1) Quinn Peers 2) Craig Capewell 3) David Coon 4) Ben Stroud 5) George Harrison 6) Steve Williams 7) Soheil Kakaie 8) Max Ure 9) Chris Kinsey 10) Alan Reddecliff 11) Liam Sullivan 12) Reece Forrest, 13) Tom Graham 14) Tom Coghill 15) Ric McEvoy
REP 16) Ollie Brown (C) 17) Ben Polec 18) Simon Beards 19) Chris Munday.
Match Report: Pete & David Coon