Eccles Ladies kick started the Autumn with a preseason friendly against Birkenhead. Birkenhead has always been a bit of a local rival for the Ladies; having moved up through the leagues together and after many close matches in the past Eccles had something to prove. Most of all though, Eccles were keen to put their hard work throughout preseason into practice.
Eccles got off to a strong start, putting pressure on the opposition in their own half. However, some mistakes at the breakdown lead to a penalty and Eccles lost possession. Birkenhead then had some good passages of play but the Eccles’ defence kept strong. After some lovely work from both the backs and forwards Igz Ekoku managed to wiggle her way past the opposition to score the first points.
After the first, the tries kept coming… Second row Babs Daher found herself with the ball out wide, she did a textbook draw and pass to set Sally Morris up in the corner. After kickoff the ball was quickly passed out wide and Rowanne Smalley cut a wonderful line through the defence; running the full length of the pitch she scored between the posts. Igz made another break down the wing, knocking back a number of defenders; Alex Lucas-Stokes was in support and finished the try off beautifully. It wasn’t all fancy backs stuff though! The forwards had their fair share of ball carrying, one particularly good move saw Nina Martyn charging through the middle, shrugging off defenders she scored what was to be her first of three tries.
After half time Birkenhead came out fighting. They had been strong throughout the game but this passage of play was too strong for the Eccles defence and they managed to charge over the line to score a try. Eccles fought back and got back into their rhythm. Strong running from Hannah Marland and Louisa Gray saw Eccles regain territory. Some quick hands through the forwards saw Emma Connolly capitalise on the opportunity to claim a try. Tries followed from Leah Calton-Morley who finished off a beautiful passage of play that saw a number of Eccles players involved. Nina Martyn scored two more and Joey Edwards finished off the game with a try in the corner. The game finished 65-5.
Overall Eccles were very happy with their performance and it was felt to a be a real team effort with everyone playing a vital part. As well as the tries there were some exceptional conversions from Joey Edwards and Aimee Wallace. Forward of the match went to Nina Martyn and back of the match to Sally Morris. Eccles Ladies are now looking forward to the start of their season next Sunday with the 1st XV home to West Bridgford and the 2nd XV away at Workington. Any support is always welcome.