Wilmslow 2nd XV 24 – 17 Lymm Eagles
Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday February 3 2024
Eagles Fail to Take Off at Wilmslow
On a muddy and soggy Saturday, Lymm Eagles succumbed in an attritional match against a well drilled Wilmslow 2nd XV. This was a very physical battle that seemed to catch the Eagles by surprise in the first half, but all credit must be given to them for their grit and determination in turning things round and making the game a more even contest with a closer, more representative scoreline.
The Eagles came into this fixture on the back of two close defeats to Altrincham and Bowdon. These last few games have taken a toll on the Eagles squad, and this made selection for this game difficult. Many of the Eagles regulars were unavailable for various reasons, including injury, family commitments, holidays and even the unenviable burden of having to support the Welsh National team (sorry Beardo). This forced Captain Olly Brown to call in favours from his Rolodex of players (very old school – look it up). Tom Coon joined Brother Dave in the squad for only the 3rd time this year, whilst Ash Caffrey played his first game of rugby alongside his brother Kieran in the back line. Jez Ure returned to take the place of his injured son Max. Father and originator of the Eagles (Rugby – not the Rock Band), Martin “Henders” Henderson returned to provide some much needed experience and guidance to the team. Pete (The Pensioner) Coon continued his usual multifunction role of ball boy, keeper of the valuables, touch judge, timekeeper, scribe, spectator, critic and general dogsbody. Lymm Eagles, fun for all the family!
Unfortunately, the Eagles have tended to believe that their natural playing abilities and experience will get them through most matches and that things like warmups and practicing set pieces before games are optional activities. This unerring self-belief may have led to an unwarranted degree of over confidence as it was noted that the Eagles only emerged from the warm changing room a mere 10 minutes before kick-off, whereas Wilmslow had been out a good 40 minutes before kick-off. A swift introduction to those players who had never met or played before, a quick lineout practice and a pre-match briefing from the referee was all that could be fitted in before kick-off. The referee had officiated the Eagles match a few weeks ago and it was great to see him again and we all looked forward to a fair and honest refereeing performance. (Note: The referee read our last report of his performance and threats of legal action were made to this scribe after this match!)
The game kicked off and it was immediately apparent that Wilmslow were much better prepared for this game than Lymm. After allowing the kick off to bounce, the large Wilmslow forwards regathered the ball and proceeded to punch large holes in the Lymm defence. A quick sweeping move released the Wilmslow backs and their centre powered over after only 2 minutes of play for a converted try (7-0). Lymm restarted the game but proceeded to kick the ball straight down the throat of the xxx-large number 8, who looked like he had two rugby balls for biceps. He crashed through the Lymm defence and although he was finally hauled down by Eagles centre Kieran Williams, the disarray meant that only a few passes later, the Wilmslow winger went over unopposed in the corner for an unconverted try (12-0). Lymm were stunned and Wilmslow were bouncing.
The next 15 minutes produced some of the most disjointed passages of play that the Eagles have played for a long time. A lot of ruck watching, general spectating, players going hiding, arguing, bickering, knock ons etc, etc, (the list goes on). It seemed like the forwards and backs were playing different game plans and it all amounted to a big mess. Fortunately, Wilmslow’s keen determination to go forward at all costs produced several unforced knock ons which saved the Lymm defence the bother of tackling. Even the usually much lauded and very effective, Lymm scrum was only just solid, if unspectacular. A few choice words from 9 & 10 Chris Kinsey and Alan Reddecliff stung the players into action. Lymm worked their way up the pitch off the back of several penalties and on 23 minutes, thought they had their first try, but centre Williams was adjudged to have knocked on whilst crossing the line.
Lymm continued to put pressure on the Wilmslow line, but another unfortunate knock on was hoovered up by the fast Wilmslow winger who ran almost the length of the pitch for a breakaway converted try (19-0). Although, the Eagles continued to struggle, there were still some positives with Tom Coon brought on in the centres to help with the defensive efforts and flanker, Jim France making it his personal mission to stop the large number 8 with great effect. Craig Capewell was making multiple metres with every carry and Liam “Sully” Sullivan and Reece Forrest were using their pace as our best attacking option. After 35 minutes, Lymm worked their way into the Wilmslow 22. A clever crossfield kick from fly half Reddecliff found Sully on the wing, who then rounded the last two defenders to score in the corner for a great unconverted try (19-5). This finally seemed to wake Lymm up and with a mixture of hard work and a few penalties, worked their way up the pitch again. Another clever kick from Reddecliff, who after faking a kick to the corner, instead chipped over the onrushing defence which allowed the ball to be recovered by a steaming Sully who ran in for his second try. This was well converted by the accurate boot of Reddecliff to bring the half to a close (19-12).
Half Time: Wilmslow 19 – 12 Lymm Eagles
Considering how the game started, the Eagles had done very well to wrestle back a foothold in the match. However, Captain Brown’s message at half time was blunt. Only hard work and real effort could win this game and that everyone needed to raise their energy levels. Henders was brought on in the back row to add a bit of “smarts” into the forwards, whilst Olly Chesworth was brought into the front row to add some “grunts” to the forwards and replace the departing Ben Stroud as sole lineout jumper. Olly Brown moved to hooker to replace the unfortunate Joe Stewart, who had injured his neck in the first scrum and had done very well to keep going throughout the first half.
The 2nd half started with an increase in the drizzle which had started to fall. This turned the ball into a bar of soap and the game into a bit of a muddy slogfest (but still not as bad as Bowdon last week!!). The first 15minutes were fairly balanced, with both teams enjoying good possession, but also plenty of knock ons, leading to A LOT of scrums. The first meaningful event of the 2nd half was a yellow card on 55 minutes for back row Craig Capewell for a high tackle. Craig argued that the player was low to the ground when the tackle occurred. This was true, although the unfortunate recipient was already lying on the ground and the ball in the scrum half’s hands. A yellow was probably a fair decision.
Lymm managed to ride out the yellow card period, with lock forwards George “Ringo” Harrison and Jez Ure leading the charge in both defence and attack. Lymm also appeared to have a new 9 & 10 partnership brewing in the form of props Olly Brown and Dave Coon. Olly was showing some wonderful distribution at first receiver, putting several people through gaps with some superb passing. One of these passes sent Dave through a large hole and after a 20 metre run (pass the iron lung please), Dave put in a beautifully weighted kick to put the ball very close to the Wilmslow line. Under normal circumstances, this would probably have ended with a try, but the Lymm players were so shocked at seeing a prop kick the ball well, that the following chase was not what it could have been. Also, having winger Josh McKean clothesline the retreating Wilmslow full back to concede a penalty probably didn’t help.
Wilmslow were still looking dangerous, and the game turned into a real nervy arm wrestle. On 70 minutes, quick turnover ball in the Lymm 22 had Wilmslow on the attack. The ball found the Wilmslow prop on the wing, who drove for the line but was hauled down only centimetres short by a superb tackle by McKean. Unfortunately, Lymm could not regroup quickly enough, and Wilmslow recycled the ball and drove over for an unconverted try (24-12). This was a real kick in the teeth for Lymm, who had worked so hard for little reward in the half. However, Lymm upped their intensity and managed to build some good attacks. On 76 minutes, quick hands from Kinsey found Reddecliff on half way. A superb dummy run from Jez Ure drew in three defenders and allowed Alan to glide through the resultant hole. The ball was fed to a flying Sully, who sprinted over from 40 metres out for his hat trick try, although his attempted conversion came back off the upright (24-17). 4 minutes to go for Lymm to try and rescue a draw. Several attacks were stopped by good Wilmslow defence and Lymm eventually ran out of steam. Lymm lost possession when the referee adjudged that the ball was unplayable as the Wilmslow player was trapped on the wrong side of the ruck, but incorrectly awarded the scrum to Wilmslow, despite them being the offenders (sorry Sir, had to get one dig in!). The last minute was played out and the final whistle was met with a triumphant roar from Wilmslow.
Full Time: Wilmslow 24 -17 Lymm Eagles
A disappointing result for the Eagles, who have now lost their last 3 games. However, if we ignore the slow start and the first 20 minutes of this match, the Eagles did very well to adjust their game plan (or actually come up with one!) and get themselves back into a game that on another day, without the increased effort levels, could have been very disappointing. It was refreshing seeing some players not always known for their ball carrying abilities having the confidence to get more involved, whilst it is always a pleasure to watch some of our older veterans showing that they’ve still got “it”. Congratulations to Wilmslow, who probably gave us our most physical test of the season and were fully deserving of their victory. We look forward to seeing you at Crouchley lane later this season.
There was definitely less self-promotion for Man of the Match in the club house afterwards. Special mentions go to George Harrison, who provided a great physical presence and carried extremely well and Ash Caffrey for his first ever game of rugby. Kieran Williams ran into brick walls all day and linked the forwards and backs to great effect. Liam “Sully” Sullivan got another 3 tries and had an extremely strong running game. Man of the match eventually went to Alan Reddecliff, whose hard work and technical ability to change the game plan was probably one of the main reasons the Eagles made this match more of a contest. For what it’s worth, my man of the match was Captain Olly Brown, who showed tremendous leadership and motivational qualities in the face of adversity, but my co-scribe vetoed my choice. Sorry Olly, I did try!
There is no game for the Eagles next week, with the next game being at home against local rivals Moore 1s on the 17th February, kick off 14:15 and as always, everyone most welcome to attend.
Team: 1) Olly Brown (C) 2) Joe Stewart 3) David Coon 4) Jez Ure 5) George Harrison 6) Jim France 7) Craig Capewell 8) Ben Stroud 9) Chris Kinsey 10) Alan Reddecliff 11) Ash Caffrey 12) Kieran Williams 13) Reece Forrest 14) Josh McKean 15) Liam Sullivan REP 16) Tom Coon 17) Olly Chesworth 18) Martin Henderson
Match Report: Pete & David Coon