Liverpool St Helens 2nds 38 – 33 Lymm Eagles
Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday February 18 2023
EAGLES TURN SINNERS AT SAINTS
Having just about managed to maintain their excellent unbroken run of 15 wins in last week’s game at Macclesfield, Lymm Eagles travelled in good spirits, north from their home ground and west down the East Lancs Road to meet with local rivals, Liverpool St Helens. According to the large sign at the entrance to the club, they were founded in 1857 and they are the Oldest Open Rugby Club in the World. On the other hand, according to the RFU and the Guinness Book of Records, it is actually Guys Hospital in London, who were founded in 1843. However, with discretion being the better part of valour, (or just plain self-preservation), your scribe decided not to point this out to the crowd of 30 – 40 LSH spectators who had turned up to watch the game on the first team pitch.
Lymm were unfortunately without the on field services of Captain, Ollie Brown, who was suffering from a broken bone in his hand resulting from the previous game at Macclesfield, and not as some suggested, when someone trod on his hand whilst walking home from the pub afterwards. Fortunately, Ollie was still available pitch side to marshal his troops and give them his usual rousing pre-match pep talk.
On paper, Lymm had a very strong team, with a set of muscular (heavyweight) forwards including returning Alex Reay and Jez Ure, together with pack regulars David Coon, Jim France, Adam (Hat Trick) Halford, Craig (Viking) Capewell, Matt Grellier and Max Ure. This was just as well as the LSH opposition looked pretty formidable and contained some pretty beefy units. Not that I personally thought that they were pretty, just quite big boys, if you see what I mean. It also made a refreshing change to play a team who could provide an experienced front row and allow competitive scrums to take place. Well done LSH! Veteran scrum half Chris Kinsey took over the captain’s role and was well backed by a three quarter line-up combining age and experience and youthful agility (not including Kinner).
Right from the kick off, Lymm were determined to make a big impression on LSH and managed to maintain possession in the opposition half of the pitch for the first 15 minutes. The big LSH forwards dug in deep and repeatedly managed to keep the Eagles out with huge crunching tackles. Eventually, with an excellent bit of jinking and dodging at the back of a ruck about 15m out, scrum half Kinner managed to weave his way through several sets of grasping hands for a lovely individual score close to the posts. Like Martin “Henders” Henderson last week, this try scoring will put Chris’s retirement from rugby off for at least 12 months. The conversion was well taken by Rhys Jones (0 – 7). Only 5 minutes later, quick ball from a well-controlled scrum, was fed accurately out through the backs to reach full back Stew Norman travelling at full whack, who then outpaced the LSH defence to score in the corner. The wind and the distance to the posts denied the conversion attempt. (0 – 12).
Comforted by this early lead, the Eagles seemed to take their foot off the gas and lose focus and concentration. This provided LSH with the opportunity to get back in the game and some cleverly rehearsed set pieces and good interplay between the forwards and backs enabled them to rumble almost 30 metres up the pitch and for their very vociferous fly half to scamper over for a simple touch down and conversion after 25 minutes play. (7 – 12).
A sense of frustration now seemed to be creeping into the Lymm game, with repeated penalties being given away for simple and unnecessary infringements. Despite several warnings from the Referee, it was only a matter of time before he reached for his yellow card and the lucky recipient on this occasion (from a wide choice of candidates) was Matt Grellier for some on the ground shenanigans. LSH managed to compound Lymm’s deteriorating mood when their ever popular fly half slotted over a well struck penalty from a good distance out to bring the score to (10 – 12) at half time.
HALF TIME: LSH 2nds 10 – 12 Lymm Eagles
With some harsh words ringing in their ears, probably coupled with eating copious amounts of raw meat, Lymm returned for the restart with renewed vigour. Within the first 3 minutes, the Lymm backs made excellent use of the ball after a superb 50m break from Adam Halford, with excellent passing and switching direction to wrong foot the opposition. This culminated in speedy fly half Alan Reddecliff receiving a long pass and making a storming run down the wing to score with an extremely acrobatic (some might say even balletic) dive over the line in the corner. Rhys Jones made excellent use of the wind to gain the long distance conversion. (10 – 19).
After a few minutes of generally well deserved back slapping and self-congratulation, there then followed a period of dismal performance by virtually the whole Lymm team which involved conceding 3 converted tries and 21 points in under 10 minutes. The first was from a quick tap penalty awarded for a Lymm hand in the scrum. (17 – 19) The second was from a succession of missed tackles on a speedy LSH winger who managed to score under the posts from 40m out. (24 – 19) The third was almost a surreal déjà vu experience from last week’s Macclesfield match, with a slow, lazy pass between a couple of static Lymm backs being easily intercepted by an LSH player running at full tilt. He managed to sprint almost unopposed from the Lymm 10m line to score a converted try under the posts. (31 – 19).
To say that Lymm seemed stunned by this sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune is a bit of an understatement. A couple of minutes after the last restart, Lymm were awarded a penalty midfield about 30m from the LSH line which, given the disparity in the score, they surprisingly chose to kick for goal. Fortunately with a following wind and the accurate boot of Rhys Jones, Lymm chalked up another 3 points. (31 – 22).
Lymm continued to struggle to make any headway against an increasingly confident LSH. This frustration was particularly apparent in the forwards when they managed to acquire 2 yellow cards in three minutes when No.8 Max Ure and flanker, Craig Capewell were given their marching orders. LHS were quick to capitalise on their two man advantage and with 25 minutes of the second half played managed to run in another converted try under the posts for another 7 points (38 – 22).
A few minutes later, the referee made another attempt to balance the number of players on the pitch by giving an LSH forward a yellow card for a high tackle which at this stage of the game were unfortunately becoming increasingly frequent. With only a bare 10 minutes left on the clock, Lymm dug deep into their reserves and forced themselves to up their game. Spurred on by the strident cries of support from the half dozen or so Lymm supporters, the powerful centre Kieran Williams made one of his trade-mark driving runs to crash through the opposition for a great individual try well within reach for conversion by Rhys Jones (38 – 29).
Lymm now sensed that the position was potentially redeemable and continued to press hard towards the LSH line and drive their forwards backwards (?) The LSH hooker seemed to object to the attention he was receiving from the Lymm front row and his no arms, shoulder barge was rewarded with yet another yellow card. As LSH had no suitable replacement, unfortunately, this meant that the scrums were now uncontested, another oft repeated feature of Eagle’s games. In the last two minutes of play, stand-off Reddecliff managed to secure a loose bouncing ball and with steely determination made a straight line drive for the line to score his second of the day. As he dived to touch the ball down, his faint cry of “does that make me man of the match?” was almost carried away on the gusty wind. The try was unconverted with the score remaining at (38 – 34) at the final whistle a minute or so later.
FULL TIME: LSH 2nds 38 – 34 Lymm Eagles
A disappointing result for the Eagle’s but they would be the first to admit that it was not a surprising one given their somewhat lacklustre performance. During the on pitch round up, Captain Ollie Brown spelled out the effect of the result on the Eagle’s current position in the league and the importance of being able to improve their performance by training during the next two weeks before their next game. This was received with lots of nodding of heads, but it remains to be seen whether this tacit agreement actually leads to some positive action. Let’s all get back on the horse boys, keep your eye on the ball and your shoulders to the wheel, your fingers on the pulse and your eye on the prize (possibly too many mixed metaphors!)
Nobody had a particularly bad day, but there again no one had a particularly good day although the aging Lymm linesman did well to keep up with all the running to and from the posts when LSH repeatedly scored. On balance, and based mostly on marks for artistic impression rather than technical merit, Player of the Week should go to Alan Reddecliff for his try scoring acrobatics.
Lymm now have a two week break before meeting current top of the league Northwich away in the penultimate match of the season. The Eagles will be keen to redress the loss from their previous encounter and this is sure to be an entertaining match. We are hoping to be able to count our travelling supporters at least on the fingers of one hand.
Team: 1) Alex Reay 2) Jim France 3) David Coon 4) Adam Halford 5) Jez Ure 6) Matt Grellier 7) Craig Capewell 8) Max Ure 9) Chris Kinsey (C) 10) Alan Reddecliff 11) Ben Stroud 12) Rob Griffiths 13) Simon Beards 14) Stew Norman 15) Rhys Jones. REP: Kieran Williams, Chris Buckeridge (Senior Colt), Joe Keeney.
Lymm were unable to use any of their Zoom replacements, due to poor internet connection at LSH.