All Blacks maintain their promotion ambitions

Action from Saturday's win at home to Upper Eden''''''''''Pictures courtesy of Amelia Bullock
Action from Saturday's win at home to Upper Eden''''''''''Pictures courtesy of Amelia Bullock
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Colne and Nelson maintained their promotion hopes with a ruthless display at home to Upper Eden on Saturday, winning the game 64-5.

Although currently sitting second in the league, the All Blacks are under no illusion that they are locked in a fiercely-contested promotion battle, and no less than three wins from their last three remaining games would guarantee promotion.

A wet Saturday afternoon brought a huge crowd of former players to Holt House to reunite and support their beloved old club.

This game was in memory of Chris Riley, who was an important and well-respected member of the club.

Full credit must be given to Upper Eden, who made the long journey from Cumbria with only 10 men, but in the true spirit of grass roots rugby, still wanted to fulfil the fixture.

The 18-man squad of Colne were more than happy to lend three players to Upper Eden in an attempt to balance the teams.

A massive thanks to Nick Martin, James Finucane and Lewis Hesketh, who all bolstered the Upper Eden side.

Upper Eden kicked off, and the Colne and Nelson forwards immediately set about working the phases with some hard running and support in numbers.

Three or four phases later, the ball was spun out to the speedy backs, which saw simple hands put John Hargreaves over for the first try of the game.

The next three tries to Colne and Nelson were all repeats of the first – hard work and territorial play by the forwards, before picking the right moment to unleash the slick handling of the backs, Alex Bullock, John Hargreaves and Adam Hartley scoring, respectively.

Due to the wet, muddy conditions there were inevitably going to be one or two handling errors.

One such occasion saw Upper Eden win a scrum within their own 22, but for some reason chose to try and clear the ball with a kick down field.

Unfortunately for Upper Eden, this was caught on the full, at pace, by the ever-threatening Bullock who made one of his trademark weaving runs to make his way to within 10 yards of the opposition try line.

Good support from the Colne and Nelson forwards, followed by quick thinking by scrum-half Kyle Hargreaves, saw the ball spun out to fly-half Dean Edwards, who, with a perfectly delayed pass, put Jamie Gane over the whitewash for the fifth try.

With only five minutes left of the first half, Colne obviously decided that they were going to make the game more competitive by forgetting how to tackle correctly and giving needless penalties away!

Two consecutive penalties put Upper Eden within five yards of the try-line.

On the stroke of half-time, a quick tap and forward support led to Upper Eden’s only try of the game, which was well deserved due to their commitment and attitude.

The second half saw Colne finish the job in hand by scoring six more tries from Gary Kenyon (2), Antony Minshull, Jamie Gane and Matty Tindall (2).

Although this game was played in high spirits and a friendly atmosphere, Colne and Nelson need to realise that the final two opponents will not be as forgiving.

If they want promotion, then their attitude over the next two weeks must be focused and ruthless.

The winner of the Chris Riley Memorial Trophy was Lewis “Skinny” Hesketh.