Cannock 2’s v Eccleshall 2’s
Captain Bloke sounded the call and a band of happy patched up veterans, young eager recruits and a couple of escapees appeared on to the field of battle to take on a much changed team of Eccleshall. The weather looked decent and the pitch looked like the groundsman had borrowed it from Twickenham provided a perfect setting for good start to the season.
Eccleshall looked determined in the warm up with the backs looking dangerous which we knew to keep the ball away from. Cannock warmed and started the run through of all new set piece moves and tricks with Donk playing keepy-uppy the game was ready to start. The game kicked off and Cannock took the fight to Eccleshall, strong carries from Fullelove with the rejuvenated knee. It was obvious that Eccleshall came here with confidence displaying strong defence in mid-field closing down Cannock attacks. Not to be outdone the youthful backrow of Sinders, Daz McDermot and Fullelove put in some great tackles turning over ball well in the centre of the park. It was Cannock that was first to break as the visitors made use of quick ball from a breakdown and spread it wide form a score in the corner.
Cannock from the restart again pressed up the field with good carries from Chay and Phil Pedley in the centres. Again thwarted by the strong defence of the visitors Cannock were repelled and the play was forced back into Cannock territory. Cannock adjudged to have handled in a ruck gave Eccleshall a penalty on the Cannock 22. Up stepped the kicking maestro of the front row and slotted the penalty.
Captain Bloke started to rally the troops and asked for harder work at the breakdown and to play tighter to the pack. The kick off went up and away the pack went to hunt for the ball forcing the play back up field. The line-outs were functioning well with the leaping abilities of Q securing ball and making a nuisance of himself on Eccleshall throws. An infringement on half way gave Donk the chance to gain useful ground and found touch deep in the Eccleshall half. With good ball secured from the lineout the backs ran good lines through the defence, the forwards made the ball available quickly and up popped McDermot as first receiver who crashed over from Cannocks first score.
Straight from the kick off Cannock returned back down the pitch after another score with good linking play with the backs forcing Eccleshall back. With the teams quite equal forays into each other’s half were well executed and equally matched in defence. Cannock sometimes electing to run out of the 22 putting themselves under pressure had to work hard in defence with Alex Freeman showing his fullback credentials. Next to score was the visitors with Cannock again putting themselves under pressure handing Eccleshall an opening which they duly took with a score under the posts.
Score 5 - 15
Captain Bloke called again to the team to pull together and take the fight back to the visitors, Donk finding touch in the Eccleshall 22 from a penalty gave the pack a good platform to attack the line. The lineout secured off they went for the line, with the line in site Eccleshall and tired legs stopped the maul short. The ball quickly recycled ready to reset another play, Shorter had a sudden rush of blood and bravado decide to pick up and drive straight into a brick wall or the remaining Eccleshall pack. With the ball lost and the Cannock pack still on the floor Eccleshall set off back down the pitch only to be stopped at the Cannock 10 by Alex and Dave Ault with some good defensive tackling forcing the attacker in to touch. Cannock not dropping their head attacked again through Chay and Peddley working hard up the field. Cannock was next to score from a scrum in the centre of the park, backs liked with forwards letting loose Freeman on his fast jinking run to score.
Score 10 - 15
With their tails up Cannock pressed from the restart kick which fell into waiting hands of Freeman, off he set supported by Pedley and the evergreen McDermot. The first wave halted by a strong defence the pack joined the party. Driving on towards the line and making the ball available on the Eccleshall 5 metre line. With a stretched defence outnumbered Shorter found himself in a bit of room and sidestepped himself towards the line, eventually putting the down after a pirouette. This brought the half to end and a much needed breather.
Half Time Score 15 - 15
After a strong team talk and a reshuffle at half time into battle came Wendy, Jim Freeman, Palmer and Doc. The pack again bossed the game making the visitors pack work hard in the sunshine with the next score coming from a strong pushover try. The pack smelt the line and with good footballing skills from Fullelove saw him dot down for the easiest try he will get this year. Palmer added the conversion.
Score 22 – 15
Next to score were the visitors with a try coming straight from the restart, with players waiting for the restart to cross the 10 metre line an Eccleshall player leaped like a salmon plucked it out of the air and trotted off to score under the posts.
Score 22 – 22
Captain Bloke rallied the rattle troops and set off after a good restart from Donk, this set up a series of play where both sides attacked hard and defended with the same vigour. The next score was a superb team try from Cannock started from a line out on the Cannock 10 metre line. The ball secured ball the pack, fed down to Jim at 12, from here a truly inspired greyhound move met on the run by Wendy. He duly headed off on a trademark run leaving players in his wake. Wendy’s run was tracked perfectly by Trow who appeared on his shoulder took the pass, Trow rounded 1 then drew another and passed it to Chay backing up. After drawing another player Alex supported Chay, took the pop pass and headed off towards the line. A last ditch try stopped the try but the support play had already caught up and recycled the ball giving the young prop Buckley a short walk to the try line, not before Bubbles forgot where it was and placed the ball on the 5b metre line for him.
Score 29 – 22
With their tails up Cannock pushed on again to see out the remaining time of the half. Openings started to appear with tired bodies all over the pitch, and the Cannock backs forced an opening with some good link up play. Donk spotted a gap and forced his way through it to score easily.
Score 34 – 22
Eccleshall came back strongly forcing Cannock to defend hard first one side then the other side of the pitch. Strong tackling from Fullelove, Sindry and Bubbles held the visitors until the inevitable infringement in front of the posts. Up stepped the Eccleshall kicker to slot the penalty making the last 5 minutes nervy.
Score 34 – 25
Again came Eccleshall chasing the game with all they had left, Cannock throwing bodies at every breakdown to see out the game on top. Attack after attack thwarted by strong defence from tired bodies but with the last play of the game Eccleshall forced Cannock back onto their try line. Cannock ran out of defenders and Eccleshall pounced from short range to see out the game. This brought to an end an thoroughly enjoyable game hard fought from both sides.
Cannock 34 – Eccleshall 32