Eccles 4th 6 v Didsbury Toc H 4th 45 09/01/2016

The fourth outing in the revised league programme saw the pirate crew at last achieve success not in the result of course which was a resounding defeat but in starting with 15 players for the first time this season  . The squad was the usual mix of the weatherbeaten (the Andy’s Davies ,Coop and Wareing plus Gary Hamer back from his festive oompharing ) and the youthful (the rest) with playing positions sorted out minutes before kick off .Eccles got off to the worst possible start as from the kick off the visitors no 6 (was to prove their star man of the match) took the ball beat one tackle then ran 50 metres under the posts for a try. The 4ths shaken by this setback steadied the ship and after a couple of strong breaks from centre Connor McKinney gained a penalty which Skipper and stand off Sam Delaney slotted over .  Unfortunately another promising break saw the ball spilt and recovered by a Toc player who sped away from his own half to add a second try for the visitors and compiled the misery minutes later when their fullback fielded a kick ahead in his own 22 ran wide outpaced the cover until brought down in the Eccles 22 but the move continued resulting  in a third try  .A leg injury ended McKinney’s day necessitating a team shuffle as 4ths battled away but could not prevent  Toc from adding to further tries to lead 33-3 at the interval .Davies decamped at the break to join the 3rd team front row with Stuart Smith coming from dry dock to board the trireme. Eccles had the fillip of a second penalty from Delaney  which encouraged the team to new efforts in the heavy muddy conditions which obviously told on some of the home forwards who had to have of spells of recuperation on the quayside .Its credit that the team only conceded two tries in the second half that included in the latter stages a double yellow carding Andy Wareing for persistent team offences (right decision by the referee but it jarred that the visitors constant taking out of the guards at the rucks went unpunished) and Andy Coop for his “vehement ” objection to the decision.A comfortable scoreline and a deserved victory for the visitors who but for the spirited and resilient performance of the crew who though not the Barbary pirates of yore are certainly not a Captain  Pugwash outfit it would have been a total shipwreck. The Jolly Roger went Dave Cusick ( always getting his name wrong its my alka selzer you know) not the biggest of the bilge rats but put in a nonstop effort with Jason Davies shunted in as flanker from the wing and Nate Cooper as Button Boys (they could easily fit on with room to spare) . The euphoria of having a full team and the team performance led me to consider not to awarding Blind Pugh but the devil’s quill has been twitching due to inactivity so Coops step up to the gangplank for  injudiciously  sticking your beak with your two penny worth with the arbiter of fact.