First XV 23-26 Hawcoat Park

It would be easy to describe this as a game of two halves but rarely have the words been truer. A first half that Eccles would like to forget, and a second that provided a fight back worth remembering that came up just short.

In the opening exchanges both teams looked very closely matched with neither achieving ascendancy in the set piece or open play. The home side had the better of the territory and opened a 3-0 lead via the boot of James Wright. The lead should have been extended further but what should have been a simple penalty drifted wide of the posts. From there Hawcoat Park fought back, not by doing anything particularly fancy but by getting the basics right. The hard running by their backs found the Eccles defence wanting and the visitors had soon scored two tries, opening up a 12-3 lead.

The Eccles defence jammed in tight to cover the threat coming up the middle, but seemed to forget that they then had to drift out wide. The Hawcoat back line scored two tries on first phase play with hardly a hand laid on them. Eccles did pull some ground back with a penalty but the half-time score made unpleasant reading, 26-6 to the Cumbrians.

In the second half home side finally remembered what defence was which allowed them to start building some pressure of their own. After 15 minutes and a sustained period right on the Hawcoat line scrum half Sam Vincent darted over under the posts. Amazingly the conversion was missed but nobody really felt that it would matter at that stage. Five minutes later Luke Cullen made a great break to convert defence into attack and when he was brought down short Mark Greenhalgh was able to crash over the line. This time the conversion was added so the score was 26-18 and suddenly the game was back on.

Eccles continued to pile forward. The forwards were able to control it for multiple phases which sucked the defence and created space out wide. The backs moved it through hands and Will Parkinson shrugged off a couple of tacklers to touch down in the corner. The touchline conversion couldn’t be added so Eccles trailed by three with 10 minutes left. But try as they might the last break wouldn’t come, the efforts required to get themselves back in it clearly taking their toll. A scrappy last few minutes unfortunately petered out and the score finished 26-23 to the visitors.

Another disappointing result for Eccles. But with a much improved performance in the second half and the chance to correct some of their defensive problems in training this week they can be optimistic as they prepare for their first away trip of the season, up to Aspatria on Saturday 21st September.