Hope Valley 1sts 22 – 31 Lymm Eagles

Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday January 7 2023


Sluggish Lymm Find Hope in the End

Lymm Eagles re-started their league season after the festive period with a sluggish and hard fought victory against Hope Valley 1s. It was evident by the quality of the play and the speed of the game that all the players in both teams had enjoyed a few too many mince pies, turkey and mulled wine.

The game was less a rugby game, more a procession of penalties, with some rugby chucked in for fun. The referee had definitely got a new whistle for Christmas! Considering the torrential rain in the morning, the Lymm players were greeted with bright sunshine and blue skies at the end of a long drive through the picturesque Peak District. The surrounding valley and rolling hills made the village of Lymm look like an urban ghetto!! On Thursday evening, Lymm had 23 players and were preparing for a rare bus journey to an away game. Unfortunately, due to a lack of a driver, the bus was cancelled, which led to a few players dropping out. With a few more players having to drop out with the lurgy that is circulating, there was a concern that Lymm wouldn’t get to 15 available players. However, thanks to the hard work from Captain Olly Brown, more players in the shape of Guy Larkin, Josh Guy and Chris Beards (nephew of regular centre Simon) kindly changed their plans to get the team to 17 players. Upon arrival, Lymm were informed that Hope could only raise 14 players for the match and due to a lack of experienced front row players for Valley, the game would start with uncontested scrums. Whether this was tactical or unfortunate, it once again robbed Lymm of one of their strongest advantages. After seeing the Hope team warming up, and given the size of some of them, this scribe would dread to think of the dimensions of the front row players that were missing.

The ground was soft underfoot, which did not lend itself to running rugby, so it was interesting trying to guess Lymm’s game strategy. Lymm kicked off and within the first few minutes had given away 2 penalties for offside and not rolling away indicating that the referee, who was miked up and being assessed for the game, had set his stall out early. The penalties allowed Hope to make easy metres up the pitch and gave their big forwards a platform to work off. The Hope team were also dominating the lineout and despite only having the one jumper, consistently retained ball and left Lymm clutching at thin air. After several more penalties, Hope had a lineout 5m from the Lymm line on 5 minutes. Quick ball off the top was fed to their outside centre cutting back inside. Although bravely tackled just short of the line, the centre offloaded in the tackle to allow their No 8 to go over for an unconverted try (5-0). Lymm had been a bit too slow off the mark and Captain Brown read them the riot act under the posts. This seemed to stir Lymm into action and once they managed to get hold of the ball, made good ground through the efforts of No. 8 Matt Grellier and prop Dave Coon. The ref appeared now to favour penalising Hope and it seemed to be whoever was in defence was on the receiving end of his whistle the most. Fortunately, on 10mins, after several forward drives close to the line, back row Craig “Viking” Capewell managed to burrow over for a try close to the posts, converted by fly half Rhys Jones (5-7).

If this was the spark to ignite Lymm, it was quickly snuffed out by the referee’s whistle, who continued to punish both teams and holding them to the highest level of discipline. The various penalties once again gave Hope a 5m lineout and this time they got their maul correct and drove over for another unconverted try on 15mins (10-7). The seesaw battle continued with Lymm now benefiting from some strange penalty decisions, although one was quite clear, after the Hope winger was yellow carded for a head high tackle on winger Tom Coghill. Lymm used this numerical advantage to stretch the Hope defence with some powerful runs, before centre Rick McEvoy put in an inch perfect cross-field kick which, after a lightning 30m sprint, was expertly collected and touched down by winger Coghill on 19mins. The conversion was missed (10-12).

Unfortunately, a re-occurrence of calf injury forced Tom off for the rest of the game. The game then descended into a bit of a wrestling match, punctuated at monotonously regular intervals by the ref’s whistle. Hope pushed forward and managed to secure another 5m lineout. Lymm tried to repel the maul but were adjudged to have illegally brought it down and Captain Brown was shown a yellow card. Hope kicked for the corner again and despite being repelled again, recycled the ball to their strong, large 2nd row who dragged several Lymm players with him for another unconverted try on 38mins (15-12). A groan went up from the Lymm players upon hearing the referees whistle again, but fortunately, it was only to bring the half to an end.


The message at half time was simple. STOP GIVING AWAY PENALTIES!! Together with, “Keep the ball in hand,” as the ref seemed now to be favouring the attacking team and “Stop the back chat and the running commentary on the game”. Whether anyone was actually listening remained to be seen!

The first 10 minutes of the half were fairly even with neither team in real ascendency. On 50 minutes, Lymm was adjudged to have been offside at the back of a lineout and the referee yellow carded flanker Guy Larkin. The yellow card was apparently given for dissent, although the ref already had his hand in his pocket before Guy had uttered a word. The Lymm players were now letting the number of penalty decisions get to them and were losing concentration. Hope on the other hand were really rising to the occasion and saw a big scalp on their hands, based off the current league positions. A well worked backs move saw Hope split the Lymm defence and their speedy winger dived over for a converted try on 54 minutes sparking wild celebrations (22-12). On 60 minutes, Hope were awarded a penalty within kickable distance and elected to kick despite having all the momentum going forward. The kick just missed. This seemed to finally give Lymm the kick up the backside they needed and they started to make good ground up the pitch but were repeatedly frustrated by Hope infringements. It was now Hope being repeatedly penalised and they were eventually given a yellow card for too many penalties across the team. The Lymm fightback became a reality 3 minutes later on 64 minutes, when fly half Jones jinked past several Hope backs to dive over for a try which he then converted (22-19). Lymm were now using their numerical advantage and the Hope players were starting to tire. On 70 minutes, from his own 22, centre McEvoy crashed through the Hope defence and deftly rounded the fullback to score in the corner, with the conversion being kicked by Jones (22-26).

Even with Lymm now 4 points ahead, the result was still in the balance. Hope hammered on the Lymm defence lines, but with great work by fullback Liam Kirkham and 2nd rowers Jez Ure and Ben Stroud, the attacks were repelled. A lovely 50-22 kick from Jones also relieved some of the pressure and turned defence into attack. Despite messing up the lineout, Lymm managed to recover the ball and strong runs by winger Josh McKeen and flanker Jim France got Lymm within a few metres of the line. The ball was passed back along the line and flanker Craig Capewell managed to offload the final pass to centre Simon Beards to crash over for an unconverted try on 80 minutes (although most supporters had it at 84mins playing time).

All the Lymm players celebrated, bar Chris Beards, who could be heard shouting “Anyone but him” and throwing his hands into the air. (I’m sure he was actually happy for you Uncle Simon!!}. After another couple of minutes play, which was time for another 24 penalties, the referee finally brought the stop-start match to an end. The sighs of relief from Lymm and despair from Hope were audible across the pitch.


This was not a classic game by any stretch of the imagination and the result could very easily have gone the other way. Hope Valley were very strong competitors and considering they played the whole game with only 14 men, were well matched with Lymm for long periods of the game. We wish them well for the rest of the season. For Lymm, it is said that the best teams find a way to win when they don’t play well and this game certainly fits that profile. Lymm will take the win (their 10th in a row) though and maintain 2nd in the league. Man of the match went to flanker Matt Grellier for his tireless running effort. Special mention went to Ben Stroud for being given the thankless job of being the only lineout jumper for the team and did a very good job in testing circumstances.

Next week, Lymm take on Wirral 3s at Crouchley Lane. All welcome to attend, KO 2.15pm.

Team: 1) Ollie Brown (C) 2) Craig Capewell 3) David Coon 4) Jez Ure 5) Ben Stroud 6) Guy Larkin 7) Jim France 8) Matt Grellier 9) Chris Kinsey 10) Rhys Jones 11) Josh McKeen 12) Simon Beards 13) Rick McEvoy 14) Tom Coghill 15) Liam Kirkham 16) Chris Beards 17) Josh Guy


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