Sitting in Pole Position, with three games to go, Eccles last home game of the season against National Intermediate Cup semi-finalists Aspatria, who were still looking for promotion themselves, lived up to its billing and turned out to be on Heck of a Game. And to top it all some idiot had organised a Beer Festival to boot, the incentive being if you want to enjoy your beer tonight boys, you’d better come away with a win.
The game started with Eccles playing into a deceptively strong wind, a 10 pointer at least I’d say. With most of the game evolving around the ground between the 22’s, both sides went for it big time. A real Gladiatorial Contest. The runs were hard and the hits were harder. Not one quarter was asked for, and not one given, by either side.
Eccles eventually broke the deadlock with a Greg Wilson try from short yards. Danny Holland converted from out wide. 7 – 0. Aspatrial quickly showed they weren’t here just to make up the numbers with a well worked try from their own 22 which was also converted. 7 – 7.
Eccles then found a self-destruct button to press when a wild “scary monster” pass presented the visitors with a loose ball to kick on and touch down for a soft try, which was again converted. 7 – 14. With Eccles still finding ways to throw the game away an Aspatria penalty extended their lead to 10 points. 7 – 17.
With a few minutes of the half to play another penalty attempt by the visitors went just wide. From the 22 drop out the ball was claimed in the air by Will Parkinson with only foul play prevented him from making progress. From the ensuing penalty a series of line outs and more penalties being conceded by the visitors allowed Eccles the opportunity of an attacking lineout on the visitor’s 5m line. All this was aided by Connor Thornley hitting his mark, despite excessive verbal distractions, and “Meadowlark” Donovan reaching high into the air to claim each throw. With the need for a clean catch and drive, a cleverly worked lineout allowed Greg Wilson to claim his brace of tries for the day, which Danny Holland again converted on the stroke of the half time whistle.
Half Time score 14 – 17.
From the start of the second half, using the advantage of the wind, Eccles laid siege to the Aspatria line and very quickly, in a rampant mood, ran in two tries. Both of which were scored by Joe Dale, and both being converted by the Dutchman, who had definitely packed his kicking clogs. 28 – 17.
With Eccles sitting on a comfortable lead a “hand bags” episode resulted in a player from both sides being shown a yellow card. This was noted by one spectator to be all to Eccles advantage as they had lost their slowest back while the visitors had probably lost their quickest. Still taking the game to Aspatria the Eccles lead was extended with a Freddie Oakey try, from an old fashioned switch move. Which again the Dutchman converted. 35 – 17.
With the visitors desperate to get back into the game, the play became frantic. The Eccles lineout reverted to the shambles of last week’s proportions allowing Aspatria to have almost 100% possession. This also allowed the visitors to come back at Eccles and soon an Aspatria try and conversion, followed by another try reduced the Eccles lead to a meagre 6 points. 35 – 29.
With the clock running down slower than a Club Chairman’s thought process, Eccles defended to a man, notably by Luke Cullen, who was, as ever, knocking down anything that came his way. With one final throw of the dice, Aspatria tried to run the ball out again from their own 22, but this time a kick ahead was cleaned up to bring the final whistle.
Final Score 35 – 29.
Now then, what was that I said about a beer festival, must pay that a visit.