Eagle 1st XV 13 16 Ormskirk 1st XV
January 13th 2018 KO 2:15pm

Saturday January 13th 2018

Eagle 1st XV   13      Ormskirk 1st XV    16

Ormskirk travelled to second placed Eagle on Saturday to continue their league campaign. Currently sitting in fourth place in the South Lancs/Cheshire 3 (North), the Gingerbread Men were keen to make amends for their narrow loss to Eagle, at home, earlier in the season.

‘Kirk started strongly having the lions’ share of possession in the opening stages. Clearly, the men in green were keen to state their intent against the physical Warrington outfit. Ten minutes into the game saw the first scrum with both sides trying to make their domination show. This resulted in the scrum being re-set three times, with both front rows vying for first blood. Ormskirk eventually managed to play the ball and saw outside centre Andy Healey make a clean break down field, off-load to winger Dave Webster, before Eagle made a questionable attempt at an interception, resulting in a knock on. The ensuing penalty was comfortably slotted by scrum half Gareth Little giving Ormskirk a three-point lead.

Eagle immediately rallied, and a smart set-piece move in midfield unfortunately came to nought as a knock on, once again spoiled the move.

Play continued with Ormskirk, still the dominant side, putting together some well drilled moves, which they weren’t quite able to finish off. Full back Matt White made a searing break down the left wing after a lovely floating pass from Healey. Tackled just short of the line, Eagle cynically killed the ball at the break down, giving scrum half Little the chance to increase Ormskirk’s lead to six.

One of the highlights of the game came on the 22 minute mark when fly-half Nat Wildman, hoisted a huge kick into midfield, which was skilfully caught by lock Aaron Ferry who crashed the ball up, for it to be released to the ever-present Andy Healey, who made an outstanding break to score for the first try of the match. The extras were duly added by Little and Ormskirk were 0-13 up and certainly worth their lead.

Three minutes later, Eagle responded with a series of big carries into the Ormskirk 22 and despite some stalwart defending by the ‘Kirk back row, a penalty was awarded to the home side which saw their outside centre crash over in the left-hand corner. The conversion missed, the score bolstered the Warrington men’s enthusiasm and they clearly weren’t going to lie down easily.

There then followed a game of aerial ping pong, with both full backs fielding a series of kicks in, an attempt to force an error. Ormskirk full back, Matt White, decided that enough was enough and once again, set off downfield, ball in hand. After side stepping several of the opposition, a great cover tackle by Eagle hauled him down and Eagle managed to turn over the ball and break away. After some lovely passing by the Eagle back line, they managed to cross the try line. The try was not given by the referee, however a penalty was. The points added, saw the home side 8-13 down at half-time.

Eagle started the second half with a real gusto which caught ‘Kirk on the back foot. Nonetheless, the solid defence continued and Eagle just couldn’t find a way through the green line.

Ormskirk were awarded a penalty on the hour mark after the Eagle scrum half kicked the ball back into his own ruck. Ormskirk kicked to touch for the lineout, which, was given as ‘not straight’ and a scrum was awarded to Eagle. The home side were beginning to have the upper hand in the set piece and the visitors were on the wrong end of several penalties at scrum time.

A series of handling errors by ‘Kirk saw the ball turned over and Eagle cross the try line under a pile of bodies. The referee, who was surely unsighted, awarded the try nonetheless and after the conversion was missed, the game was all square at 13-13.

Both sides saw out the last quarter of the game, desperately trying to find a way through. Both sides putting in some superb defence and solid tackles.

The break came for Ormskirk on 72 minutes, when Eagle were penalised for crossing. With the clock running down, scrum half Little one again stepped up to the mark. It was a long kick, just inside the Eagle half. Little kicked the points with, what seemed like relative ease and ‘Kirk were back in front.

The remaining minutes of the game saw Eagle throw everything but the kitchen sink at Ormskirk. The Ormskirk defence, however, held tight and the final whistle saw the men in green winners 13-16.

This was a sterling performance by the West Lancashire side, probably their best defensive effort all season, in what was a truly bruising and physical encounter. There were undoubtedly some sore bodies on Sunday morning.

The result sees Ormskirk remain in 4th place in the league, but with 2nd, 3rd and 4th place all tied on 32 points, there is still everything to play for.

With a week off to recover, the 1st XV will be ready to press their case further on Saturday 27th January, when they face bottom side Ashton-Under-Lyne at home. The 2nd XV will also be at home that day when they face Broughton RUFC.