Knutsford 13 – 33 Lymm Eagles

Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday September 9 2023

Eagles keep cool heads to claim red hot victory

On the hottest day of the year, Lymm Eagles kicked off the new season with a battling win against local rivals Knutsford 1st XV. This was a game where at times players were less worried about the score line and more concerned about surviving the baking temperatures, to which both sides deserve a lot of praise for the way the game was played and the effort levels from both teams.

New seasons for the Eagles are always met with apprehension and quite a number of unknowns. Would all the players from last season want to play again or did retirement beckon? Would all the iron lungs and oxygen cylinders fit in the car boot and would the extra fabric panels arrive in time to increase the shirt size to account for the summer excesses? Thankfully, with the hard work of Captain Olly Brown and his team, along with several great pre-season sessions of dads and lads touch rugby, the vast majority of last season’s squad had been retained and some useful additions recruited.

Whilst the team that took to the field had a familiar feel to it, there were some welcome additions. Lymm were able to bring back Jack Harper and Stu Norman, who had both missed large portions of last season with family commitments. There was also a very welcome debut for number 8 Ben Lloyd, playing his first game of rugby after a 9 year break. After several years of badgering, Olly finally got his wish and persuaded Ben to play. Youngster Angus Grattan provided some youthful impetus that was very much appreciated by all.

With several calls to Age UK to check that the elderly should not have to be outside in 30°C heat going unanswered, Lymm kicked off the game. This was the first game of the season for both teams and also the first experience of the new RFU tackle laws, so it would be interesting to see how everyone coped with the new interpretation. Several players before the game were spotted googling what a sternum was. In a surprise to all, Jack Harper was the 1st player to be penalised for a high tackle!

The first 10 minutes were played at a fairly lethargic pace, with both teams fairly balanced. Some powerful charges from flanker Capewell and 2nd rows Max and Jez Ure, finally managed to establish a platform in the Knutsford half. The ball was shipped to fly half Reddecliff, who with a shoulder drop and hip swivel, broke through the Knutsford defences. Reddecliff offloaded in the tackle 10 metres short of the line to supporting runner Kieran Williams who powered over for a try, converted by Oli Larkin (0-7). This was followed not long after by another try on 18 minutes. Following a lineout, the ball was shipped wide to winger Reece Forrest. Reece showed his pace to outstrip the Knutsford defence and with just the full back to beat, selflessly passed inside to full back Oli Larkin who went over for an unconverted try (0-12). A shock to all as most had never seen Reece pass!

A welcome water break seemed to change the first half. Whether Lymm took their foot off the gas or became over confident, but momentum swung towards Knutsford, who made good progress off the back of several Lymm infringements. The referee seemed to really take exception to Lymm’s interpretation of the ruck and players were penalised several times for not rolling away after the tackle. This was mostly when Lymm were carrying the ball in, so it was difficult to understand what the referee meant by rolling away. Off the back of one of these penalties, Knutsford elected to kick for goal. Even with him away in Newcastle, you could hear the boos of regular reporter, Pete Coon, for this act of cowardice. (What he made of Ford’s Drop Goals and penalties for England versus Argentina later in the day he can enlighten us next week). The kick was successful (3-12).

Lymm had several more visits to the Knutsford 22, but were unable to convert them to points. This included an unknown Lymm player blowing a 4 on 1 overlap. Hopefully this missed opportunity wouldn’t Macca…….sorry matter, later on. From another missed opportunity, Knutsford turned over the ball and showed how dangerous they could be by going the full length of the pitch to score a converted try to close out the 1st half (10-12).

HALF TIME: Knutsford 1st XV 10 – 12 Lymm Eagles

After starting the game so well, it was frustrating that Lymm had allowed Knutsford back into the game and they probably had the ascendancy. Lymm unfortunately lost flanker Williams to a calf injury, so moved Forrest to flanker and Angus Grattan to the wing. The message at half time was to try and paint a better picture to the referee at ruck time and to maintain good discipline. If Lymm could get their forward game going again, this would give them the edge.

Knutsford kicked off the 2nd half and seemed to have kept the momentum from the 1st half and had the Lymm defence clinging on at times. On 45 mins, Knutsford were awarded a penalty, which they took quickly. The ball carrier was accidentally/cynically (delete depending on the team you support) taken out by the retreating scrum half Chris Kinsey, which resulted in a yellow card for Chris. Before the game, someone had suggested a shot pot for the 1st person to be yellow carded for a high tackle.

Kinsey could be heard claiming he should win it as he was at an unfair disadvantage, as he couldn’t reach above people’s sternum and also he doesn’t get involved in something as vulgar as tackling!

From the resulting penalty, Knutsford again opted to kick for goal to take the lead (13-12). With 14 men and walking a discipline tightrope, Lymm were really struggling. They did manage to survive the yellow card period, but were struggling to get back into the game. A spark was needed. This came on 57 minutes from the unlikely source of prop Dave Coon. A Knutsford maul was setup on the half way line and moved forward Dave managed to come right through the middle of the maul and exploded out of the back of the Knutsford forwards with the ball in hand and powered up to the 22. Quick hands released Craig Capewell to cross for a momentum shifting try, converted by McEvoy (13-19). Suddenly, Lymm started playing good rugby again and it was Knutsford who were clinging on.

On 65 minutes, the Knutsford winger was yellow carded for a high tackle on winger Grattan. Lymm were really starting to rumble, with the scrum in particular stirring into life. It was from a scrum on 70 minutes that number 8 Lloyd picked up the ball and made a break for the line. Lloyd managed to offload in the tackle for winger Angus Grattan to go over in the corner, converted by McEvoy (13-26).

Lymm had all the ascendancy now but needed to guard against complacency. The defence was watertight and the attack was functioning well. On 74 minutes, the ball found its way to centre Beards, who provided a lovely cut out pass to the wing and Josh McKean rounded two defenders and goose stepped his way over for a try in the corner, converted by McEvoy (13-33). There was still time for Lymm to completely disintegrate a Knutsford scrum. There was something slightly sinister, seeing Dave and Olly smirking whilst standing over 8 crumpled bodies. The last 2 minutes saw Knutsford camped on the Lymm line. The game descended into a bit of scrap and ended with Reece Forrest being yellow carded for a tackle that last season would have been applauded, but is now considered dangerous. The ref wisely blew for full time to prevent further mischief and lessen the amount of heat stroke.

FULL TIME: Knutsford 1st XV 13 – 33 Lymm Eagles

A fantastic start to the season in torturous conditions. For a bunch of old blokes who have seen too many winters, who don’t train, hardly warm up and have at best 5 lineout calls, the Eagles don’t do too badly. If Lymm can keep these players available and maintain the enthusiasm when things aren’t going well, they will be in for another decent season. A massive thank you to Knutsford, who will be a very strong team in the league and gave us a very good challenge. The post-match BBQ was excellent and hats off to the grill chef for standing next to the fire on a warm day. Let’s see when it’s raining and cold in December if we remember the game where it was “too hot”

There were a couple of contenders for man of the match. Ben Lloyd had a solid debut and we hope he enjoyed it. Jack Harper was a colossus in defence and was great to have him playing. Ollie Larkin was fantastic in both defence and attack. Despite the protestations and demands of captain Brown that he should be given his customary MOTM, it was decided that Reece Forrest was slightly more deserving, with his pace and power providing a huge difference in the hot testing conditions. Big thanks to all the support, especially young Ethan George from the U12s for providing a good supply of water to us during the game.

A final mention goes to Tom Graham, who would have been playing but for a family bereavement. The Eagles thoughts go with Alicia, Tom and Family.

Lymm have their first home game of the season next Saturday against Bowden 2s, 3pm kick off. All welcome

Team: 1) Olly Brown (C) 2) Jack Harper 3) David Coon 4) Jez Ure 5) Max Ure 6) Kieran Williams 7) Craig Capewell 8) Ben Lloyd 9) Chris Kinsey 10) Alan Reddecliff 11) Reece Forrest 12) Simon Beards 13) Rick McEvoy 14) Stu Norman 15) Oli Larkin. REP 16) Josh McKean 17) Angus Grattan 18) Guy Larkin.

Match Report: David Coon


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