Winnington Park 2nds 35 – 26 Lymm Eagles
Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday March 18 2023
Competitive Eagles Defeat Fails to Overshadow Successful Season
Lymm brought their league campaign for this season to an end with a competitive and highly entertaining defeat against Winnington Park 2nd team. This was a great game to watch and both sides deserve praise for the spirit in which the game was played and the effort levels from both teams.
Following a slightly demoralising loss at LSH a few weeks ago and having conceded last week’s game against league champions Northwich 2s due to lack of numbers, it was difficult to predict what sort of game the Eagles could produce against Winnington Park. With 2nd place in the league already secured, it would have been easy to concede this game as well and enjoy a 6 Nations Super Saturday or watch the events unfolding at Manchester Rugby club as our 1st team edged towards securing the league championship. However, it was a tribute to the unmatched persuasive skills of Captain Ollie Brown and the superb team spirit that the Eagles have generated this year, that 19 gentlemen (and one pensioner) made the trip to Winnington Park for their final game of the season, come what may.
Thanks must go to Ben Polec, Sadge, Ryan Brown and Jamie Plumb for giving up their free weekend to add extra power to the team. Winnington Park had no 1st team game, which meant the game was played on the large 1st team pitch. Each of the three (!) Winnington coaches insisted that this was a purely 2nd team and that only one first team player was being fielded after a long term injury.
However, pre-match observations made it very clear that Park really wanted this win. Before the Lymm players had made it down the track to the carpark, the Park players could be seen warming up under their coaches’ well organised instruction, hitting tackle bags and vigorously attacking the scrummaging machine. Never a good sign. The last time the Eagles attacked a scrum machine like that, we lost two against the head! This scribe could only feel that some of the opposition may have been suffering from selective amnesia as to which team they played for.
The game kicked off in glorious sunshine. Both sides showed good build up play in attack and strong tackling in defence. It didn’t take long for Winnington to score through a well worked move that released their centre to score out wide after 2 mins (5-0).
Lymm refused to be disheartened and continued with the same game plan of using the forwards to make inroads into the defence, before releasing their dangerous backs. Lymm worked their way up the pitch and a great show and go by scrum half Kinsey found a chink in the defence that released number 8 Sadge into space to power over after 7 mins, converted by Rhys Jones (5-7).
Buoyed by this power play, Lymm gained in confidence and started making good ground with every carry. The scrum was a solid platform, and the lineouts were being ruled by Max Ure and Ben Polec, leading to several good rolling mauls.
However, Lymm were guilty of forcing the play when not required and Winnington were very good in the ruck and sniffing out a turnover. Centre Jamie Plumb almost made it over the line (HE ACTUALLY DID!) but due to the positioning of the referee, it was inconclusive whether the ball had been grounded. After 20 mins, Lymm were camped in the Park 22 and looking dangerous. Just when Lymm looked likely to score, the Park centre plucked a loose pass out the air for an interception and sprinted the full length of the pitch to be rewarded with a converted try (12-7).
A few minutes later, the phrase that Lymm have heard in all but three games this season once again was uttered. “Our front row is injured, and we have to go uncontested”. Thus, Lymm were robbed once again of one of their best weapons. It was from an uncontested scrum on 30 minutes that Park managed to release their quick backs from 20m out and quick accurate passing allowed them to glide in for another converted try (17-7).
The rain was now starting to fall quite heavily and the sunshine had completely disappeared. Lymm continued to hammer away at the Park defence and another try looked definitely on the cards when flanker Polec showed great footwork and speed to get over the line, only to be tackled and held up and so miss out on a try. However, from the goal line drop out, Lymm ran straight back and strong carries and drives saw flanker Matt Grellier go over for a lovely individual try, converted by Rhys Jones on 37 minutes (17-14).
Lymm hoped that this would be the last score of the half but unfortunately Park had other ideas and despite this scribe noting 44 minutes on the clock, play continued until the Park 2nd row went over for another unconverted try (22-14).
HALF TIME: Winnington Park 2nds 22 – 14 Lymm Eagles
It had been a frustrating half for Lymm and the scoreline could have been so much different if the opportunities had been taken. Captain Brown emptied the bench and brought on fresh legs in Aldin Zillic, Tom Coon, Jim France and Paul Jones. Despite the frustrations, Lymm were still well in the game and knew if they kept doing the basics well that opportunities would come.
As has often been the case this season, Lymm seemed to start slowly after the break, and this was once again true here. Winnington came out the blocks strongly and it didn’t take them long to get on the scoreboard with an unconverted try (27-14). Fortunately, Lymm responded almost immediately and quick hands from centre Simon Beards released fellow centre Jamie Plumb to run in at the corner and score an unconverted try (27-19).
With the pitch now quite boggy underfoot, the match became more of an arm wrestle, with neither side really gaining hold of the momentum. After 55 minutes, Park’s desire to win was highlighted by them opting to kick a penalty. In this scribe’s opinion, at this level of rugby, kicking a penalty should be illegal and possibly subject to a custodial sentence unless it’s absolutely necessary such as to win a match in the last minute. (Hear Hear Mr Scribe, ungentlemanly conduct at its worst).
Veteran 2nd row Jez Ure, also tried to explain this to the Winnington coaches on the side-lines but was met with stunned silence and stares as if he had pi$$ed on their children! Unfortunately, the penalty was successful (30-19).
Lymm’s team structure was dealt a serious blow on 57 minutes when flanker Matt Grellier required stretchering off with a suspected torn hamstring. We wish Matt well in any recovery and thank him for his sterling efforts throughout the season. There was also a slightly comical moment from the incident. Subs Dave Coon and Jez Ure went to help the stricken Matt on the floor whilst play continued on the other side of the pitch. As Jez went to get the physio bag from the dugout play moved back towards Matt and the referee spotted him on the pitch and assuming he was an out of position player, awarded a penalty for offside. Despite Lymm’s protestations, the penalty was upheld but fortunately, with just deserts, the kick was missed. (Hilarious, Michael Green in Tthe Art of Course Rugby would have been proud of that, wonderful stuff).
Play continued with more handling errors from both teams and started to slow as fatigue set in. Park somehow managed to reduce the number of their unforced errors and were rewarded with another try on 70 minutes (35-19). Lymm gamely refused to give in and set about with some strong tackling, including a bone crunching tackle from winger Josh McKean. On 73 minutes, the ball was turned over and quick ball from Kinsey found the ball in the hands of veteran prop Dave Coon, who powered over from 10 metres out for his first try in about 4 years, converted by Jones (35-26). This scribe may be slightly biased, but it was a great forwards try, and a just reward after a long, hard season for David!! Despite their best efforts, too many handling errors stopped any chance of a further Lymm comeback, and the game finished without further score.
FULL TIME: Winnington Park 2nds 35 – 26 Lymm Eagles
As mentioned earlier, the match was an end to end contest in which Winnington just about deserved to win. Full credit to Lymm though for never giving up and treating us to some great rugby, and in this scribe’s humble opinion, probably the best demonstration of teamwork and club spirit he has seen this season.
In the forwards, Craig Capewell and Sadge made more metres than pretty much everyone combined and, in the backs, winger and fullback Ryan Brown and Oli Larkin were calming influences at the back and marshalling the defensive line. After much deliberation, man of the match was awarded to:
Captain Olly Brown for his tireless efforts both on and off the pitch. Being the true consummate clubman (or maybe because his shelf is full of MOTM awards) Olly graciously donated the award to his front row colleague Dave Coon!
With that, another league season has ended. It has been a wonderful season for Lymm as a club, with the 1st team being crowned champions, the 2nd team competing in the highest league possible against semi-professional teams and the Eagles gaining promotion. Massive thanks must go to Olly Brown for all the work he has done this season. None of the Eagle’s success would have been possible without him. Thanks to all the players that have played this season. It’s been a privilege to watch you play and share in the highs and lows of competitive rugby. It’s been great watching several father and son pairings, sets of brothers, young colts and 50 year old senior players and everyone else who has contributed. For what it’s worth, this scribe is very proud of all of you. Special thanks to Stu Wraith, Pete Coon and all the other supporters that have followed the team this season, it’s great to have you on the side-lines (although more positivity next season Stu!!!).
Final congratulations from the Eagles to the Lymm 1st team, who were crowned Regional 1 NW champions. A fantastic effort. Remember, the 3s taught Yatesy all he knows, and this scribe also coached him in the Colts!!
Looking for post-match quotes, a highly entertained, visiting celebrity spectator Simon Plumb could be heard on the side-lines stating, “This game was a great advert for walking rugby”. The walking was unintentional, we can assure you Simon.
The Eagles now turn their attention to the cup. With a bye in the 1st round, Lymm are back in action on the 1st April away at Christleton. All welcome!!
Team: 1) Olly Brown (C) 2) Craig Capewell 3) David Coon 4) Jez Ure 5) Max Ure 6) Matt Grellier 7) Ben Polec 8) Soheil Kahai 9) Chris Kinsey 10) Rhys Jones 11) Josh McKean 12) Simon Beards 13) Jamie Plumb 14) Ryan Brown 15) Oli Larkin 16) Jim France 17) Tom Coon 18) Paul Jones 19) Aldin Zillic