Eccles’ journey up to Silloth and the Cumbrian coast got off to a shaky start, with accountant Joe Dale confusing a 9 for a 10 and consequently missing the 9.45 meet time. Fortunately his player sponsor Dad’s Taxi Service was able to come to the rescue and after initially heading to the wrong rugby club, Joe was able to arrive in time for kick off.
After an early injury to Mark Greenhalgh, Joe was called into the front row and a number of other changes meant that in addition to playing into the wind, Eccles were up against it early on. However, organised and determined early defence threatened to frustrate the ‘home’ side who were unable to convert territory into points.
It wasn’t until midway through the half that they were able to make the pressure count, pushing over from a short range lineout. This score seemed to spark Eccles into life, with some tough inside running allowing Eccles to play out from their half, before releasing the backs to allow Chris Fortune to bounce out of a couple of tackles for the try, converted by George Oakey.
Carlisle fought back with a second try and just before half time, a penalty to take the score to 17-7.
After the break, the strong wind had seemed to die down, however Eccles seemed to exhibit a stronger hold on the game, and after Thames Cow then Jordan Bromley scored, the score was 20-19 with plenty of time left to play.
Matt Cox sent a clearing kick downfield and from the chase, made one of his first tackles of the season in emphatic style, turning the ball over before Matt Parkinson crossed to give Eccles the lead for the first time in the game at 26-20.
Eccles were then left with 10 minutes to defend a series of attacks on their line, including heroic last stand as the scrum, which had been under pressure all day stood firm in the face of multiple resets. Any penalty infringement would have resulted in a penalty try under the sticks and when the ball was won against the head, Matt Cox cleared for the win. Although not always pretty, a 5 point Cumbrian win is a rare thing, and Eccles celebrated all the way home.
Report by Nick Spooner