The score line may sound like a game in which defence was non-existent and to be fair, you wouldn’t be far from the truth.
The tone for the day was set when the 3rds were marched to the land far far away under the tunnel, put the flags and post pads up, only to discover that the pitch wasn’t marked out and so back under the tunnel they went to set up camp on the hallowed turf that is the 2nd team pitch. With 15 minutes to go until kick off, a coach with 10 members of the Vale of Lune side arrived and quickly got changed, only to inform us that the coach they arrived in contained all available members and so Eccles were faced with a decision to play a 10 v 11 game or lend Vale players to make up numbers. In hindsight, the decision to allow 1st team 2nd row Steve Lillee to join the opposition has to be questioned as he took great delight in running at Eccles defence all game long and coincidentally won Man of the Match for Vale.
With the preparation to the game far from ideal, the instructions were to keep it simple and get the job done. The whole Eccles team decided to do neither in the first half being far too elaborate with the ball in hand and offloading when not necessary, allowing Vale to get into the game. Will Kester eventually opened the scoring for Eccles around half an hour in after the forwards made some good yards with pick and goes. Sam Thompson missing the conversion (It was a windy day to be fair). Ryan Chattington followed up soon after in the corner what was probably the best worked move of the match, the backs with some swift exchanges after the forwards had sucked in the majority of the opposition. Sam Thompson made amends and duly knocked over the conversion from the touchline. A 12-0 lead and Eccles looked like taking hold of the game but a number of handling errors and lacklustre defence led to Vale of Lune getting a try just before half time. The resulting restart from this ended up with Adam Austin doing his finest NFL impression and taking out the opposition second rows knees with his head. Unfortunately for Adam he forgot that in Rugby no helmets are worn and tackling with your head isn’t the best idea and in his case, lead to concussion and spend the rest of the match on the sideline.
I don’t know what was put into the water at half time but what happened in the next 20 minutes seemed like a complete blur with try’s being scored at either end at a rate of knots and, I think luckily, I cannot remember the finer details but my notes state that Ryan got a further 2 to give him his hat trick (the obligatory beer jug is yet to be seen), Nic Hageman got 2 and Andy Waring got 1. This took the score to 45-31 in Eccles favour. The best was yet to come though as superstar fly half Sam Thompson returning after a 4 week spell on the side-lines, dazzled the opposition with his footwork and drop of the shoulder to scoot in under the posts. The conversion was successful and the final score was 52-31.
In summary, a much scrappier game than it needed to be and Eccles made much more hard work of it than they should of done, although in fairness some of this was down to the determination of the 10 vale players who gave it their all throughout and also the willing participants from Eccles who donned the red and white shirt to play for them. Onwards and upwards for Eccles who will need to eradicate many of the errors that dominated the game today, as they welcome Aldwinians 3rds to Gorton Street next week in what will be a much sterner test.