Culcheth Eagles u15 22 Blackpool Stanley u15 22

Date 28/06/2015
League Under 15s League 2015

“I’ll never understand what you like about rugby” said an elderly neighbour without a trace of irony as she tootled off to Bingo. But if she’d had taken her cronies to Sunday’s match she would have easily drawn some comparisons between the two games. After all, rugby league places great importance on four corners, lines, numbers and the turn of a ball is all it takes to make you a winner or loser. She would also have experienced a range of emotions – excitement, joy and ultimately some disappointment.  In fact, there was even two fat ladies to behold (but they had just stopped for a breather on their way through the park).

On this trip to Culcheth, our boys had the “full house” travelling with a 17 man squad rather than the one dozen who had given such a strong showing last time. Consequently, it was with much anticipation that the starting whistle went. And by and large, Stanley looked liked the stronger and more unified team.  They were clearly playing all six tickets at once, well organised and ready to mark-off a number each time they went into attack.  However, whilst the team was looking strong, there were also many individual performances to celebrate!

Hooker, Phil “Doctor’s Orders” Hardy-Dearness, was as eager as ever, popping the ball straight to the waiting hands of the prop forwards, Connor “Garden Gate” Willis and Ross “David’s Den” Swarbrick. Who knew they would push their way forward through the opposition with determination greater than that of a bingo granny trying to reach her regular seat? Swarbrick even scored a try for his efforts.   With the ball whisking out to the wingers, we saw Matt “One Little Duck” Webster and Ben “Man Alive” Hindley dancing around the perimeters with all the gusto of a national prize winner.

The regulars were in attendance too. Loose Forward, Sean “unlucky for some” Craven again showed his steely resolve in gaining ground and protecting the empire. And there was the usual majestic defensive from second rows Dean “Legs eleven” Harding and Danny “One Dozen” Stretton.  The relative newcomers in the centre, George “Cup of Tea” Guy and his brother James “Knock at the door” Guy were well and truly in control of their dabbers. George, in particular, had his “eyes-down”, taking advantage of a bouncing ball, spotting an emerging gap to score one of his two tries of the day.

Of course, it wouldn’t be rugby (or bingo) if it was all going to go Stanley’s way. Culcheth were quick to capitalise on defensive mistakes and they appeared much stronger in defence than at previous meetings. Nevertheless, the ever-reliable scrum half Jordan “Lucky” Hindley spotted his chance to power through leaving them all scrambling.  With Culcheth unable to match his pace, he was jubilant as he popped down another try in the Mecca that exists beyond the try line and between the sticks.

It was also fantastic to see full back, Nathan “Kelly’s Eye” Winter back in form and at full fitness as he converted three of the Stanley tries.  And what a treat it was to see stand-off Danny “Tom Mix” Siddal, showing his versatility in attacking and defensive plays.  However, perhaps most impressive of all was the enthusiasm and team sprit displayed by the interchanges CJ Tyrrel, Harry Kenyon, Matt Stelfox and Harry Trask. Each waited patiently for their moment until called upon to demonstrate their on-pitch abilities as coach, Oli Winter, dropped them like a lotto bonus ball into the play. Each replacement seemed to gear up the enthusiasm of the lads such that it looked liked like this was going to be a Stanley Victory. But as every elderly bingo player knows, when you are hungry for that oh-so-elusive win, so is everyone else!

Ultimately, in the closing minutes of the game, it was some disappointing handling which let Stanley down. Handing the ball back to Culcheth gave them the chance to reassert themselves and even things up. And despite their valiant efforts, the final score was all the twos, two little ducks apiece, or a 22 all draw.  Of course, it was a not unpleasant way to spend time with some friends. And like every Bingo aficionado leaving their favourite club, everyone from Stanley travelled home from Culcheth full of optimism and a willingness to do it all again next week!

Tries: George Guy (2), Jordan Hindley (1), Ross Swarbrick (1)

Conversions: Nathan Winter (3)