Culcheth Eagles 3 v 7 Orrell St James
Was it really March ? The sun shone, the ground perfect for a good game and OSJ had arrived at Shaw Street, with it has to be said, the biggest team of U8’s I have seen! This looked like being a physical battle for this young side.
Culcheth won toss and chose to take the ball up, big drives from the Eagles catching OSJ a little cold with Harry going very very close to the whitewash on the 4th. Had the big screen been in place, it would have been a close call and at least one on the touchline was expecting a ‘benefit of the doubt’ decision from the visiting Ref. No try the decision, but Harry is clearly growing in confidence after his try last week.
A good set from Orrell, but great defence kept the visitors out, before Max attacked the ball at speed diving over for the first score to the home side.
3 mins gone the giant no 20 from the Orrell side, took the ball on the run and bulldozed over from 5m out. 1 try all. The game was turning into a defensive battle with two different styles of attack, the Eagles using their speed and agility, whilst the visitors took advantage of the huge size difference, to crash the line.
5 minutes gone and Jack took the ball on the 5th and drove at the line hard to get over, 2:1 to the Eagles, could they really make a game of it ?
Only 7 minutes gone and once again Orrell fed the ‘big no 20’ who in a repeat of his earlier try dived over from 5 out 2:2. This was followed fairly shortly by a well worked try from OSJ who went first left then right and went over to take the lead 3:2
The Eagles are nothing if not resilient, 14 minutes on the clock and with half time fast approaching; Jack went in for his second making the score 3:3, could they hold on to half time ?
3 minutes into ‘added time’, the Ref had clearly been stopping the clock, but not indicating this to the crowd, Orrell once again fed their big try scorer, and over he went in a repetition of the earlier two tries to complete his hattrick the score now 3:4 to Orrell. With that score the ref blew for half time.
The second half saw the introduction of more members of what will hopefully be an Eagles U7’s in the summer, which gave these even younger Eagles an opportunity to get into a real physical game and they didn’t let the team down.
Ryan put in a fantastic drive from 20 out taking 2 of the visitors back to within a foot of the tryline, but was finally taken into touch just short.
OSJ drove to within 10 of the line, this time fantastic defence from the Eagles kept them out, with a turnover 5 out. Eagles made heavy weather of driving back the OSJ defence with a turnover this time 10m out from their line. The Orrell forwards drove upfield on the 5th another barnstorming run from one of the big OSJ guys saw them over from short range.
Again Culcheth kept going driving in down the middle before switching play to the left then right however fantastic defence from OSJ kept the Eagles out.
One of the OSJ forwards broke the home defense only 10m out from his own line, the only time I recall the line being broken in the game, he pinned back his ears and took off for the try line to score what looked like an inevitable try to cheers from the visiting fans. He must have thought the try was ‘in the bag’, but Isacc in only his second game, shot after him made up 10m of ground and took the OSJ player down 5m short of the Eagles line to applause from both sides of the pitch, RL at its best.
The Eagles were now tiring fast, once again the Eagles were unable to handle the sheer size of the OSJ forwards as the bulldozed over again from 5 out. 3:6 to OSJ
The Game went end to end, with The Eagles making the Orrell line on every set, but being held out by some manful defence from the visitors. A final score to OSJ in the last minute will show a 3:7 result to the visitors, but I believe the ones that gained most from this game were the home side.
Looking back on the game, the Eagles defence was nothing short of magnificent. One try was scored as the visitors ran around the Eagles right side, before the edge defence had ‘switched on’. Other than that I only recall one OSJ player breaking the line and he was tackled 5m short of the Eagles Line. Taking into account 11 of the home side are young enough to play at U7 and OSJ must be the biggest team playing at U8’s in the League I have nothing but admiration for all of the young Eagles.
Finally I must thanks OSJ for a great game, given the size difference between the teams it was perhaps inevitable that a couple of ‘high shots’ would appear as the players tired, but there was clearly no malice in any of them. It will take a very good team to keep this sizeable and defensively well drilled team from scoring and I will be surprised if they don’t end the season unbeaten.
Awards : For the Eagles Isaac received the new award for "Top Tackler" well deserved for one phenomenal tackle halting a breakaway if not the rest of the tackles he made.
The "Most Improved" went to Ryan, for some long stints, huge drives and a massive defensive effort.
MoM went to Jack who got over for 2 tries and seemed to put in at least 2 tackles for every set the visitors had.