Eccles made the short trip to a bitterly cold, but thankfully dry Ashton on Mersey this week, looking to build on the strong showing against Wigan a fortnight ago and secure an all too rare away win.
Despite playing into a strong wind, Eccles controlled much of the early territory, with Stu Grieves at 12 and a new look back three of Scott Morton, Danny Holland and Gareth Lewis all making inroads into the Ashton defence. It was Stu who crossed first in the game, powering through a would-be tackler or two to touch down, with Scott Morton adding the extras.
Eccles were then put under some considerable pressure through the middle with Ashton’s defensive line getting up dubiously quickly and attempting to force mistakes. This allowed Eccles the exploit some space out wide, sending Gareth in in the left corner to give Eccles a 12-0 lead going into the half.
Encouragingly, the Eccles pack had also taken a firm hold of their opposite numbers and with Pete Jones rolling on the subs of Ross Seward and a returning Daniel Stenstrom from the side-line; they went close with a number of driving mauls and scrums.
Into the second half and with the wind behind them, Eccles resolved to make this advantage count where Ashton didn’t and with effective kicking from Carl Wilkinson and Scott, Eccles were able to ensure that Ashton were more or less constantly on the back foot, with a string of penalties offering their only reprieve.
Ashton’s unwillingness to trust their backline was also a thorn in their side, with the Eccles pack happy to deal with the strong carriers of Ashton with Andrew Maddocks, Craig Fagan and the self proclaimed ‘Widest Man on Campus,’ Joe Dale a threat at the breakdown as always.
Maddie benefitted from being in the right place at the right time to smuggle the ball out of a maul close to the line and dive over almost untouched, sending the racous travelling support into overdrive and shortly after, Craig Fagan rounded off the scoring with the final score being 22-3 to the visitors.
In truth, only a perceived forward pass, which denied Alex a well deserved score and a fumbled offload to Scott stopped the score from illustrating Eccles’ dominance more clearly. However, this was a very physical game, with many injured bodies on show at the club on Sunday and credit is due to Ashton for ensuring this game was a contest from start to finish.
Thanks to Pete Jones for assisting in the match day organisation and with five games still to come, a strong finish would ensure the seconds’ first season in this league is a successful one, so please ensure you get down to training and make yourselves available on Saturdays.