This week’s challenge for Eccles 2 XV came from West Park, still bitter from lasts week’s narrow defeat they were desperate to make amends. Although on first glance it seemed it wasn’t going to be as physical upfront as last weeks game, West Park still seemed a well drilled side, particularly in the backs, which was no surprise coming from Rugby League territory.
Yet again Eccles 2’s were left short, whether it was from players moving to the 1’s or 3’s or being let down by others, so some familiar faces stepped into help out. Pete Heseltine and Danny Nic, both originally on the sidelines as spectators, both put on a shirt in order to help out their club. As Danny was mocking Pete for his “Extra Padding” it was Pete who had the last laugh as yet again Danny’s shoulder popped out, this time just simply by passing the ball in the warm up. Seems like Sir skin and bone could have done with some extra padding himself.
Eccles started the game at a high tempo determined not to make the same mistakes as last week. They used the pods well making good ground crashing the balls in numbers and offering good support. Putting the defence on the back foot Tom Wilson dictated the right time to distribute and with the return of Tommo at centre along side Mike Lewin there was finally some good service to the backs.
It wasn’t long before Eccles took the lead due to once again excelling in the line outs and a driving maul allowed Shaun Barlow to peel off and crash over the line. Unlike last week, after scoring the first try Eccles this time turned up the tempo. West parks forwards were no match for Eccles’ and with strong breaks from Danny Robinson, Jordan Bromley and particularly Connor Thornley mixed with big hits from Sandy Brunt and Chris Wilson it meant that whenever West Park did have the ball it was quickly turned over.
This then allowed the backs to run riot, it wasn’t long until they added to the scoring. After a fluid backs move, the ball was kicked down pitch and after great work from Brendan Cullen, to keep the ball in play and flick it inside, it made easy work for MOM Matthew “the better one” Parkinson to cross the line. The 3rd try came just before half time with great work from Connor and Mike in the lead up to a good finish for newcomer Nathan Cooper to score from the wing. Half time came and Eccles were 19-0 up.
The second half was a different story, perhaps it was due to the heat of the day but Eccles seemed to run out of steam. Although they didn’t lack effort the same level of retention from the first half was not there. This allowed West Park’s well drilled backs to enter the game and pile pressure on the Eccles defence. However, as per usual, Eccles heart and determination stood strong and their defence could not be broken down. It wasn’t until Pete Lillie was harshly binned that West Park finally broke the line, when inexplicably one of the most……rotund, players to have ever stepped foot on Eccles 1XV pitch literally danced his way through the Eccles defence with a 20m “Dash” using side steps and dummies that Mark Greenhalgh would be proud of. He was however, stopped just short of the line; the try came from the next phase.
The 2nd try soon followed and with the scores at 19-12, it looked like Eccles might be about to throw it away. Order was restored with the return of Pete Lillie and although still under the cosh, the defence stood strong and a good break from Tommo, against the run of play, resulted in a penalty, in which Carl Wilkinson coolly slotted between the ‘sticks’ putting the game out of West Parks reach.