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ECCLESHALL - Midlands Cup Winners
Eccleshall RUFC win Midlands Division Cup of RFU Junior Vase and are now 1 game from Twickenham
Eccleshall RUFC's season keeps getting better, the Baden Hall based side currently sit 10 points clear at the top of Mids4WN and last Saturday travelled to Bourne in Lincolnshire and came home with the Midlands Division trophy.
Having won 5 games to get to this prestigious final, Eccleshall travelled the 3 hours to Bourne full of confidence, although it was clear that the weather conditions and large home support would be significant factors in the game.
From the kick off Bourne were roared on and spent the first 10 minutes camped in the Eccleshall 22, fortunately Eccleshall's defence led by inside centre Sam Ward stood firm, and with a strong wind behind him, fly half Joe Furlong was able to clear Eccleshall's lines with a number of massive right boots.
Despite the windy conditions Eccleshall hooker Simon Carr’s throwing was inch perfect, Eccleshall took command with a number of driving mauls to within a few metres of the Bourne line. The home side continually infringed and Eccleshall were awarded a number of penalties and it was after a ruck which followed a penalty that saw Hooker Carr dive over to put Eccleshall 5-0 up after 20 mins.
It was clear that despite the conditions both sides wanted to play running rugby with Eccleshall flankers Josh Shorthouse and Zac Chadwick carrying well and turning ball over at the breakdown, and as half time approached Eccleshall’s Captain full back James Denning received the ball in space and was able to put Eccleshall's leading try scorer this season, winger Toby Buckley, away to score Eccleshall's second try to go in to the break 10-0 up.
The home side must have had felt that with the wind now behind them they would be able to get back in to the game, and sure they did as their winger evaded the diving tackle of Eccleshall winger Andy Whieldon to score in the corner. The try was unconverted and from the restart Bourne continued to attack and were awarded a penalty which they kicked to make the score 8-10 as the game approached the hour mark.
Eccleshall continued to try to play an expansive game with number 8 Nick Hulse and tight head prop Gareth Judge carrying well in to the heart of the Bourne defence, quick ball from a ruck was spread wide by fly half Furlong and flying winger Buckley crashed over for his second of the day. With the conversion going just wide Eccleshall had a 7 point lead at the hour mark.
Knowing that 7 points was unlikely to be enough Eccleshall continued to test Bourne and hard work by second rows James Dodkins and Oli Phillips created quick ball which when received by inside centre Sam Ward was kicked in behind the Bourne defence and winger James Hunter gathered with ease and placed over the try line to take the scores
From the restart Eccleshall were again on the attack with some mazy running from Captain Denning who continued to cause Bourne problems, who seeing winger Toby Buckley in space threw a perfectly weighted pass and Buckley evaded 2 defenders and ran round under the posts to score his third which was converted and took the score to 27-8 with 10 minutes to go.
Eccleshall brought on some fresh legs in Mikey Wilshaw, Dan Woodcock and Will Denning which greatly assisted as Bourne were not going down without a fight and as the final whistle approached they were camped in the Eccleshall 22 great defensive work by Alan Bishton, Alex Parker and Josh Denning was in vain as the Bourne number 8 crashed over for what was to be the final act of the game. The try was unconverted and the final whistle was greeted with loud cheers by the 50+ Eccleshall traveling support.
Eccleshall go forward as the Midlands representatives in the National Semi-final which means a trip to Old Old Otliensians RFC on Easter Saturday. The prize being a Final on the hallowed turf of Twickenham in May!
Club Chairman Tim West commented
“This has been a great day possible the greatest day so far for Eccleshall RUFC, our players led by captain James Denning and Coach Matt Chalmers thoroughly deserved the victory, we are playing some fantastic running rugby and despite the conditions we were able to overcome a well drilled Bourne side.
To be one game from Twickenham is the stuff dreams are made of and while of course would have wanted a home draw I am sure we will take great support to Old Otliensians RFC on Easter Saturday. Anybody who wants to join us details of supporters bus is on our website.