Eccles were hunting a third successive victory this week and welcomed Vale of Lune to Gorton Street. The visitors, possibly disrupted by the Easter weekend scheduling came with a bare 13, however, with the third team training in the morning, Danny Rice and Shaun Barlow were able to step in to the fray and help bolster their ranks, so thanks for that lads.
Determined not to underestimate the visitors, and mindful of the baying pack of spectators on the balcony, Eccles wanted to start strongly and force the tempo. Wary of the strength of the Vale centres earlier in the season, Eccles pressed hard, forcing errors early on and allowing Carl Wilkinson to break a number of tackles out wide for the first score, which James Wright converted from the sideline.
Keeping the pressure up, the Eccles forwards began to turn the screw in the set piece, winning both opposition scrum and lineouts more than once and winning the battles in loose with their opposite numbers. That is, apart from Joe Dale getting swatted away with disdain from the visiting number 8, which was greeted with wild cheers from the balcony.
There were further scores from Gareth Lewis, limbering up for the highlight of his year next weekend in Aintree, Jordan Bromley, who took the ball from Tom Othick about 30 metres out to outpace the visitors’ defence and a couple from James Wright and at the half, the score was 34-0.
At half time, Tom took a voluntary early bath to join the departing tourists on the balcony, with Will Parkinson almost immediately making an impact in his place, beating a number of men on the way to a 60 metre try.
Despite struggling with the interpretation at the breakdown and spurning several chances with a string of ‘forward’ passes, tries from Daniel Stenstrom and Alex Binnington, Gareth and Will completing their braces and James going over for his hat-trick left Eccles to see out a comfortable 77-7 win. The only blot in the copybook was down to Maddie who, after fumbling a restart, pulled up in anticipation of a volley of abuse from the sidelines, only to allow Vale to cross untouched for a consolation try.
Apologies if I have forgotten to mention any other scorers but needless to say, if I have forgotten you, get over it. However, this game may well be remembered in the weeks ahead for the footwear of JK. His tweed loafers may well be the most ridiculous shoes seen at Gorton Street and to see them on a prop is even more astonishing.
With only three league games left, please get to training on Wednesday (and Friday if selected) and let me know if you are available on Saturday, a strong finish could yet see us climb the table further.