Eccles’ dreams of a trip to Twickenham were dashed by 20 minutes spent “still on the bus”.
Eccles went into the game hoping that the cup would be a refreshing change from the tough challenges of the last couple of weeks in the league. But right from the off it was clear this would be anything other than ‘nice’. After just five minutes a suspiciously forward-looking pass was received by the Bridlington winger who went straight through the middle and drew the full back and passed to open the scoring. A few minutes later the same winger was causing problems again as he outpaced the defence to crash over in the corner. Eccles desperately needed to get their hands on the ball and get into the game, but just when they’d started to put some phases together an untidy pass was swooped on by the Bridlington #8 who offloaded the ball well under pressure, and they were in again. The score was 17-0 and nobody was really sure what had just happened.
Undeterred Eccles came back strongly and finally found themselves with the ball in their opponents’ half. Strong running from Simon Donovan and Martin Thompson, combined with great effort at the ruck from Greg Wilson, allowed Eccles to string multiple phases together. But despite this pressure, and the concession of penalties from the home side, Eccles were unable to get across the line. And as frustration set in the ball was forced wide and dropped which provided the nuisance winger another chance to show his pace, racing 90 yards to touch down, making the half-time score 24-0.
In the second half Eccles knew they would have to score early if they had any chance of getting back into the game. They threw everything they had at the Bridlington line which they could only stop by dishonest means resulting in two players being sent to the sin bin and a penalty try being awarded. Luke Cullen added the extras. 24-7, game on.
But before Eccles could make their numerical advantage count they were disrupted by the loss of players through injury; Sam Long became the third fly half of the day and Andrew Frost was forced to play in the second row. The constant rejigging meant Eccles were without their usual rhythm; the effort levels were high, but the execution was sadly lacking. Time whittled away with little to report other than a yellow card for Glen Cahill following an altercation with the opposition scrum half. With time running out Sean Griffin used his nose as a bulldozer to plough over the line for a rare try, and Bridlington kicked a penalty to extend their lead. The full-time whistle soon followed, 24-12 to the home team.
After the game the reception in the clubhouse was much warmer than was received on the pitch, and Bridlington must be thanked both for their hospitality and the alcohol provided to drown our sorrows on the long drive home. Eccles will be looking to put this behind them and re-focus on the league and their promotion ambitions as they welcome Didsbury Toc H to Gorton Street on 23/03/13.