I’m not going to repeat myself about how hard it is to write a match report for a game you play in, but I’d like to add that it certainly isn’t helped by firing into a beer festival straight after the game. Anyway, better late than never:
Undefeated Wigton came to Gorton Street knowing that a win would secure the (already inevitable) league title and promotion, but Eccles were in no mood for turning this into a victory parade. They started the game at a frantic pace which seemed to unsettle the usually composed Wigton back line and forced them into mistakes. From there James Radcliff was able to open up the defence before putting the supporting Lewis Cooke in under the posts for an early 7-0 lead. In fact the opening 10 minutes was dominated by Eccles and but for the shaky boot and grounding skills of Toms Dutton and Chapman the score could have been 17-0. But as these things go, just as Eccles looked in full control a scrum was turned over in the opposition 22 and the Wigton back line showed their handling ability and speed to race the length of the field and bring things back level. Shortly after they scored again to go 12-7 up but the game was still very close. On 39 minutes it looked like half-time would come with less than a try in it but a moment of madness from Radcliff saw him kick the ball much to everyone’s surprise, and the Wigton back three capitalised on the lack of chase to score and make it 19-7 at the half.
Not to be deterred Eccles started the second half brightly. Good running from Martin Thompson and James Finch got Eccles on the front foot and Sam Simpson crashed the ball over from close range. Alas this was as close as Eccles would get as a series of mistakes let Wigton run in three more tries to establish a commanding 40-14 lead.
With 10 minutes to go the home team could only target two more tries to try and salvage a bonus point. But with an enthusiasm which has occasionally lacked this season they went about the task in some style. A Herculean effort, retaining the ball for some 20 phases, resulted in Martin Thompson touching down next to the posts with Luke Cullen adding the extras. Then with time running out Adam Wilkinson was able to break a tackle out wide and cross in the corner to earn what could be a very important bonus point. With confidence running high and the possibility of a second bonus point to be earned Eccles threw caution to the wind, and the ball from side to side, which put Tom Chapman in space where he demonstrated the pace he always claimed he had to race in the corner. Unfortunately the touchline conversion fell just short so an unlikely second bonus point was not to be. Final score 31-40.
Eccles will hope to channel their form of the opening and closing 10 minutes (and hopefully stretch it to a full 80) for their all important trip to Aspatria on 09/03.