Eccles made the short trip down the road to Sedgley Park for the final away game of the season hoping to maintain the momentum built up over the past month and finish strongly.
Things started badly for travelling side, losing Craig Fagan before the meet, Daniel Stenstrom in the warmup after he trod on a flagstone. This was further compounded by the loss of Lee Morris ten minutes into the game.
However, as the rainclouds gathered, Eccles were galvanised in adversity and one of the hallmarks of this season has been the resilience of their defence when back are against the wall. That was the case here, as the weather put paid to any attempts at free flowing rugby, Eccles were forced to defend their line for prolonged periods, twice forcing the home side to take 3 points.
With the forwards holding their own in the scrum and lineout with Dave Roper, assisted by JK and Huw Ohri, winning several against the head and Jordan Bromley defying physics and his own waistline to make the lineout his own, Eccles were finally able to gain some field position and forced a penalty of their own, with James Wright slotting the three.
Into the second half it was clear that Eccles robust tackling was starting to take its toll on Sedgley, with the home side having to make several changes as players were visibly struggling with the intensity of the Eccles contact areas. Unable to make any changes of their own, the Eccles fifteen were throwing their all into the task. Powerful running from Maddie and Stu Grieves, defence from Carl Wilkinson and Alex Binnington throwing themselves into tackles and Chris Wilson and Sandy Brunt proving a nuisance at the breakdown.
With the wind behind them, the Parkinsons and Gareth Lewis were making ground returning kicks, with Gareth even putting his looks on the line and getting stuck into a maul. Further penalties were exchanged, with the score poised at 9-6.
Midway through the half, the pressure finally told, with the returning Tommo (Badger) switching with Carl and breaking the line before offloading to Brom in support for the crucial try. Bromley who had finally regained his composure after losing with the Seniors to the Junior Colts last week said afterwards of his red mist, “Don’t quote me on this, but you can take the boy out of Salford, but you can’t take Salford out of the boy.”
With 20 minutes still to play, Eccles’ tired bodies managed to summon the strength to hold out, reducing Sedgley to a couple of long range penalty shots into the wind, which both drifted wide and the final score was a very close 11-9 to the visitors.
Eccles bring the curtain down on the season with Preston coming to Gorton Street and will be looking for revenge on close fought league and cup defeats by spoiling the visitors’ parade and need a win themselves to consolidate their league position.
Also, if you are planning on coming to the annual dinner and sitting on the 2XV table, please can you get your money in to me either on Wednesday or Saturday this week!