Lymm Eagles 26 – 42 Bowdon 2XV
Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday September 16 2023
Eagles Bow Down To Defeat
Lymm lost for the first time at home in over a year, going down to defeat against a strong and well organised Bowdon 2s. Whilst the scoreline looked a little one sided, this was a close, competitive game and from this biased observer, Lymm could have won this game, but were often the architects of their own downfall.
During the week, the lead up to this game was difficult, with the news that Lymm 2nd team were struggling to put a team together to send to Caldy 2s. It is still baffling to try and understand why it is difficult to convince players from an essentially makeshift, social rugby team, comprising mainly youngsters and old men, to go and play against a Caldy side containing players that regularly compete at RFU Championship level. Therefore, despite the best efforts of the organising committee and the offer of support from several Eagles players, on Friday night, it was reluctantly decided to concede the 2nd team game. Unfortunately, NOWIRUL rules are such that because Lymm didn’t honour their 2nd team fixture, this game will also be classed as a concede by Lymm and Bowdon will get the league points (even if Lymm had won).
So the game was now classed as a friendly. Fortunately, this relieved some of the pressure on the Eagles, who faced their own selection issues. Having lost half the pack from last week’s game and several players not able to get to the club until close to or even after the kick off, Captain Olly Brown had to tap in to all the available resources. Will Higgins and Ben Polec were brought into the pack, whilst Jim France, Mike Clarke and Aldin Zillic made their first appearances of the season. Simon Beards moved to scrum half to cover the late arrival Chris Kinsey, who was dropping his son off at university (good luck Alfie!). There were two debutants on the bench, with George Smith and George Morton both playing a match for the 1st time in several years.
Lymm kicked off the game and the first few minutes were met with some powerful Bowdon carries and half breaks as the Eagles struggled to get a foothold in the match. Great defensive efforts from 2nd row Jez Ure and flanker Jim France managed to wrestle some control back and the ball was successfully turned over to Lymm several times. Lymm started to make good forays into the Bowdon 22 but without reward. Bowdon were very competitive in the ruck and managed to gain several turnovers of their own. It was from one of these turnovers on 8 minutes that the very pacey Bowdon scrum half managed to break though some lacklustre defence and sprint over for a converted try (0-7). Stung into action, Lymm turned up the forward intensity and again set up a good attacking platform to work off. This paid dividends with a well-timed pass from fly half Alan Reddecliff to centre Rick McEvoy, who then unselfishly (?) ignored the close support offered by prop Dave Coon to go over for an individual try, converted by himself (7-7). An excellent try with no sense of bitterness towards Macca, whatsoever.
Lymm were again building nicely, showing good strength and powerful runs, with Max Ure and Ben Lloyd leading from the front. Whilst the lineout was misfiring, the scrum was starting to rumble and a balanced front row of Olly Brown, Will Higgins and Dave Coon, were starting to enjoy themselves. Unfortunately, Lymm again tried to force the play and a misplaced pass allowed the Bowdon centre to scoop the ball up and run unopposed to the line for another converted try (7-14). However, in a virtual repeat of their first try, Lymm came storming back with 2nd row Max Ure powering his way over from the 22 leaving several Bowdon players left trailing in his wake. The try on 26 mins was converted by McEvoy (14-14). Boosted by his score, straight from kick off, Max went storming back up the length of the field and was only hauled down a few metres short of the line. Unfortunately Max had outpaced even his own team and a good scoring opportunity was missed.
The scrum was still functioning well and on 32 minutes was used as the next attacking platform. No 8 Ben Lloyd picked up at the base of the scrum and made good progress to the Bowdon 22, offloading in the tackle to flying winger Josh McKean, who then stepped inside the fullback to cross the line for an unconverted try (19-14). This was followed 4 minutes later by another well-coordinated play from the Eagles. Following powerful carries from Georges Smith and Morton and centre Reece Forrest, Lymm found themselves 5 metres from the try line. A great clear out by Brown and Lloyd cleared a gap for McEvoy to again dive over for another self-converted try (26-14). Lymm had finally got some distance on the scoreboard and had only to hang on for a few minutes to half time. Unfortunately, a simple knock from Lymm was punished by Bowdon’s rapid scrum half who again scooted over untouched for a converted try to end the half.
Half Time: Lymm Eagles 26 – 21 Bowdon 2XV
The first half had been end-to-end rugby where Lymm’s power and offloading game was well matched with Bowdon’s speed and skill. The half time message was for Lymm to keep turning the screw up front, cut out the simple errors that Bowdon were feeding off and take the opportunities on offer.
Olly made some changes, bringing himself off for Aldin Zillic, with Dave Coon taking over the throwing in duties at the lineout. However, after only one lost lineout, Dave was hauled off for Olly to resume the throwing in. Thankfully, David is not bitter, and won’t make any mention of the wayward throwing in from Olly in this match report, not even when one throw that was so crooked, some arsonists tried to burn it down like that pub in the Midlands (Geddit?-Crooked House?-No?-Never mind!).
The first 10 minutes were reasonably balanced, with Bowdon probably making more of the interval and upping the intensity. After 55 minutes, a well worked move by the Bowdon backs again released their lightning quick scrum half. He had skilfully managed to evade the Lymm defence all day and despite the desperate yells of “catch the little f*cker” ringing in his ears, scampered over for his hat trick converted try (26-28). The defences on both sides were well pretty evenly matched and at this stage it was difficult to predict who would come out on top. Unfortunately on the hour mark, Bowdon had to request uncontested scrums due to an injury to one of their props, which robbed Lymm of one of their most effective attacking weapons. Lymm were also suffering injuries of their own, with most of them in the backs, losing Stew Norman, Simon Beards and Josh McKean in quick succession. However thanks to the rejigging and organisational work of Reddecliff and full back Ollie Larkin, and the versatility of 2nd row/centre Mike Clarke, Lymm managed to maintain good continuity.
The game continued and Lymm struggled to break through, which led to increasingly desperate attempts at tricky passes. Unfortunately, on 75 minutes, one of these passes was picked off with an interception by a flying Bowdon winger who steamed home to take the game out of reach for Lymm (26-35). With only 5 minutes left, Lymm desperately tried to get the ball back as soon as possible. With Bowdon still in attack, the Bowdon number 8 crabbed across the pitch with ball in hand looking for a gap. He was eventually felled by an airborne McEvoy on the halfway line with one of the most ferocious and effective (and entirely legal!) tackles this scribe has seen in many years. Some of the spectators on the side line said they didn’t see the tackle, but they heard it! This gave Lymm one last chance to close the gap and but again, a dropped pass was quickly scooped up by Bowdon and gathered for a final converted try on the stroke of full time (26-42).
Full Time: Lymm Eagles 26 – 42 Bowdon 2XV
The past few seasons, the Eagles have enjoyed the idea that age is no match for experience. However, after this game, we came off the pitch knowing that experience was no match for some horribly fast and pacey youngsters!!
Whilst defeat in this match was disappointing, the Eagles were probably aware that, playing in this league, unforced errors and overly optimistic passes will be severely punished. Whilst defence and playing intensity needs some work, a good degree of pragmatism in looking for the simple pass through safe hands, rather than the killer 30m looping pass would be helpful (but a lot less entertaining!!!). Whilst this scribe couldn’t really remember Bowdon creating much in the game, they must be highly commended for taking the chances on offer and also stifling Lymm’s attack so efficiently. Good luck for the rest of the season and we will see you for the return match. Maybe this league isn’t just full of 50 year olds that we can smoke every week after all!! (wink wink Paddy!!).
As an observer, it’s difficult sometimes to choose a man of the match in defeat, but for what it’s worth, this scribe thought that Rick McEvoy should be awarded man of the match, not just for his bone shuddering tackle but his genuine effort to try and get Lymm firing in the 2nd half. Special mentions go to Jez Ure, who led from the front in defence and attack and George Smith and George Morton who enjoyed solid debuts.
Dick of the day definitely went to the Bowdon scrum half. Not for the fact that he scored a hat trick of tries, but for blatantly ignoring several pleas from players, touch judges, refs, supporters and his own coach by booting both match balls and one of the Bowdon balls into the bramble bushes behind the post, which are then nearly impossible to retrieve. We will send you the bill!!!
Lymm Eagles are back on their travels next week with a trip to Sale to face Village Spartans 1s, 3pm kick off. As always, all welcome.
Team : 1) Olly Brown (C) 2) Will Higgins 3) David Coon 4) Jez Ure 5) Max Ure 6) Ben Polec 7) Jim France 8) Ben Lloyd 9) Simon Beards 10) Alan Reddecliff 11) Josh McKean 12) Reece Forrest 13) Rick McEvoy 14) Stu Norman 15) Oli Larkin REP 16) Aldin Zillic 17) George Smith 18) Mike Clarke 19) George Morton 20) Chris Kinsey.
Match Report: Peter and David Coon