Eccles 4th 14 v Rochdale 4th 29 06/09/2014

The fourths set sail for the opening encounter with Paul Newton at the helm for this years campaign though I think he has been watching too many pirate movies for though I understand the captains beard the peg leg is a touch too far . Jesting aside the skipper can be justifiably proud of his crew for after a sluggish start they performed outstandlingly to a man to make their visitors work for a hard fought victory when cakewalk appeared on the cards in the opening period .The slow start was perhaps excusable as a couple of non arrivals at kick off meant having to borrow a player Craig by name from Rochdale who in fact was no lemon being one of outatanding performers for Ecccles so fair play to the visitors and a juggle round of playing positions was also required with Stuart Smith having to slip into the outside half role where he produced a man of the match performance despite his complaints about his dodgy bits there was nothing dodgy about his hands.So to the opening quarter as Rochdale exposed the home flanks with two runaway tries showing devastating speed which set alarm bells ringing that cricket score was about ensue.Those fears were allayed as the forwards settled down to competative and equal tussle with opposite numbers and the backs worked hard in defence to stifle the Rochdale attacks. It must have been a shock to the visitors when centre Mike Lewin back from a spell down under produced a neat step and used his strength to squeeze their defence to speed under the posts to score with Smith adding the conversion. This fillip must caused a energy rush in the home ranks as needless forced passed was intercepted for Rochdale to race away and score .Despite this setback Eccles once again came back into the match as Smith breached the Rochdale defensive line
with peach of hand off to surge under the posts to plant the ball down firmly for try which he then converted. The scoreline of 19-14 in Rochdale’s favour would have been unimaginable after 15 minutes of play which is testament to home teams endeavour. The second half continued to be an entertaining match with referee allowing play to flow with Alex Pugh having a fine match in the forwards and Lewin ever dangerous in the backs .Rochdale had slightly more of the possession and their lively centres caused more than few scares for the fourths defence so it a disappointing that misalignment in home defence created a route for the visitors to score in the corner. A period of pressure saw Eccles concede a penalty and from the ensuing tap a Rochdale froward crashed over from close range to score the conclusive try. A splendid game played in good spirit and thanks to Rochdale who contributed a further two players when injuries sidelined fourth members late in the match. Well done to the team who played with committment and ambition so come on down so Saturday shoppers dig those boots out and join what promises to be an amiable and lively bunch in the fourth team.