Eccles started the New Year with a score which suggests it was a bang, but in reality it was more of a splutter, in their home game against visiting Aldwinians.
Within the first few minutes Aldwinians were on the board with a penalty kick. Then Eccles replied with a good period of pressure, attacking the visitor’s line and ignoring an easy penalty kick they moved the ball quickly to allow Simon Donovan to stretch out an arm for a try, Danny Holland converted.
With the lead gained Eccles kept the pressure on the visitors and soon one too many penalties conceded resulted in a yellow card for an Aldwinians player and a Danny Holland penalty under the posts. As an aside it was notable that Tom Chapman thought the yellow card was for him, guilty conscience or what.
Eccles then got stuck in their own third of the pitch and only a series of hard hits and big tackles prevented a try for the visitors. However, all the Aldwinian pressure eventually resulted in another penalty for the visitors to make it 10 – 6. Aldwinians kept up the pressure, or should I say Eccles let them by taking the wrong options far too many times. This all resulted in the game changer. With another penalty awarded against Eccles just to the right of the posts it looked as if the Eccles lead was to be reduced to a single point, however the kick was sliced wide and from the resultant drop out, which itself was missed kicked, Will Parkinson seized onto the ball and taking it forward started a series of inter-passing between the Eccles players which was a pleasure to watch, enhanced by the fact it was finished with another Simon Donovan try and another conversion by the Dutchman this time from the touch line.
With their tails up Eccles took the ball from the restart and another series of passes soon had the visitors line beckoning, alas the ball was eventually passed to the Griffalow who chose to drop it. However even the Griffalow, Nemo (who was having a personal nocturnal tremor) and a missed penalty by the Dutchman couldn’t stop the Eccles Juggernaut. The missed penalty gave Tom Dutton the opportunity to make his cameo appearance with a charge down of the following drop out and then making a tackle on the man clearing up the ball he won another penalty for the Duchman to make amends and knock over.
Again from the restart Eccles took the game straight back at Aldwinians and another series of inter-passing saw Will Parkinson, who was definitely having a purple patch, run free down the wing with only the fullback to beat. With a desperate tackle being made the ball was slipped inside to the supporting Joe Dale who crashed over from 2 yards out. The Dutchman again converted from the touch line.
Half time was then blown with the score standing at 25 – 6.
Almost from the start of the second half Aldwinians fortunes took an even worse turn by having a player replace with concussion. But even this did not stop them taking the game to Eccles. Big hits were coming in again from the Eccles lads, alas one by the Eccles No8 was far too big for comfort so he was rightly shown a yellow card. Having the numerical advantage for once it was the visitors turn to have their tails up and sustained pressure resulted in an Aldwinian try.
Eccles then kept the pressure on themselves by again making the wrong decisions, and just like the little lad who sees ghosts, all the time. It was therefore no surprise that the visitors should kick another penalty to make it 25 – 14. With the lead reduced to almost single figures the Eccles players decided it was time to start playing again. From the restart Eccles attacked with force and purpose. Showing the inter-passing that had worked so well in the first half, they took the ball to within a yard of the visitor’s line and with a quarter back sneak Mark Greenhalgh squeezed his way through for a try under the posts. The Dutchman converted.
With the game appearing to be in the bag and the bonus point gained Eccles kept the show on the road and with more all-round support play by the whole team Spick Nooner went over unopposed, shame about the swan dive. The Dutchman converted.
Eccles then took the foot off the gas for about the third time in the game and Aldwinians mounted one last attack and only solid Eccles defending prevented more points being conceded before full time was blown.
Final score 39 – 14
Before the post-match formalities had to be seen to, Mike Henry of the North West Colts League gave the club an update on Callum Crombie, a senior colt from Littleborough RUFC who sustained a serious neck injury on the Sunday just before Christmas. I am sure I can say on behalf of all at Eccles RFC that our thoughts and prayers are with Callum and his family.