First XV 31-10 Upper Eden, 12/10/13

Eccles returned to winning ways with a hard earned victory over Upper Eden. The score does little to represent the closeness of the game as two tries in the last five minutes make it look a lot more one-sided than it was.

A different looking Eccles side took to the field this week with Luke Cullen, Greg Wilson and Sam Simpson returning from injury and Simon Donovan back from his pilgrimage to Zion. With this spirits were high despite Upper Eden being something of a bogey team over the last couple of seasons.

Just eight minutes into the game Eccles’ spirits were raised further as Connor Thornley crashed his way under the posts for the game’s opening score. Danny Holland knocked over the simple conversion. This should have settled any nerves but right from the kick off Eccles looked devoid of confidence as the ball was allowed to bounce, the visitors recovered and were on the offensive. When a penalty was awarded they turned down the shot at goal to go for the corner. Their confidence was rewarded as off the back of the resulting line out they crashed over for a simple try under the posts, and converted to level the scores. The remainder of the first half was incredibly tight with both sides creating chances but scrambling well to the keep the opposition out. 7-7 at the break.

Eccles started the second half as brightly as they’d started the first and marched into opposition territory. With the line-out working better than it has in recent weeks the kick to the corner was back as a potent weapon. After an infringement to stop a driving maul the tap was taken quickly. Sam Vincent chose a strange time to demonstrate his juggling act but managed to keep hold of the ball and fed Mark Greenhalgh who crashed over. The Cumbrians wouldn’t go down quietly though and soon pegged ground back with a penalty. Then just a few minutes later the scoreboard operator was busy again as a Simon Donovan break was finished off by Connor Thornley. Neither try was converted to the home side’s lead was a slender 17-10.

Similar to the first half, after an early flurry of points the game tightened up. Defences were working hard for both sides and chances were few and far between. But on 73 minutes, after the forwards worked well to produce quick ball on the left hand side of the field, the ball was worked quickly through the backs’ hands, with James Wright finding Luke Cullen on a fantastic line, cutting between the opposition centres. He fixed the fullback and pushed a perfectly weighted pass to Freddie Oakey on the inside, who coasted away from the covering defenders to score between the posts. Danny Holland duly converted. With just a couple of minutes later, and the visitors’ defence tiring, the ball was moved wide again for Will Parkinson to run in his fifth try in as many games #twitterwillhearaboutthislater. Danny Holland added the extras again to make the final score 31-10.

A hard earned but well deserved win for Eccles, with all parts of the team working well. And with more players returning from absence next week, competition for places will be fierce, which bodes well for the future. Eccles are at home again next week as they welcome Fleetwood to Gorton Street for a 15:00 kick off.