For the last home game of the season Eccles welcomed Keswick to Gorton Street for a highly important game for both teams; Eccles needed a win to continue their push for a promotion play-off place, Keswick were looking for a win to stave off the threat of relegation.
The game started at a frantic pace but with fractured flow as both teams were pinged by multiple penalties. Indeed it was during the advantage play from another penalty that Tom Dutton was put through a gap before offloading to Andrew Frost for the first try of the game. Amazingly, but unsurprisingly, the conversion was missed. Keswick came back strongly and were soon pressuring the Eccles line. More indiscipline led to the awarding of further penalties and the visiting kicker showed how it should be done by slotting two to give the away team a 6-5 lead.
Eccles shrugged off this set back and came back in fine form. Good running from Sam Simpson and Tom Chapman got them up the field before Mark Greenhalgh and Simon Donovan combined to open up the Keswick defence and got the ball away to the supporting James Radcliff for another try. Straight after Eccles mounted more pressure and were rewarded with a scrum five metres from their opponents’ line. As usual the Eccles scrum was strong and pushed the visitors back over their own line, and as usual Glen Cahill messed it up and was denied. But a few minutes later he was given the chance to make amends in a carbon copy of the situation, and this time managed to touch down. Heading towards half time the home side were in cruise control and looking to extend their lead. But they were guilty of forcing the pass once too often and were intercepted by the Keswick centre who could not be caught before crossing the line to make the half time score an uncomfortable 15-11.
Eccles knew that if they could keep up the same level of performance but cut out the mistakes then the game would be theirs. So to start the second half they went back to basics and what they do well. Glen Cahill touched down another pushover try, then on a subsequent scrum for the opposition Joe Dale pounced on a loose ball amongst a lot of confusion and scored another. With a Tom Dutton penalty the score was now 28-11.
With a bonus point secured and the game seemingly in the bag Eccles seemed to relax which allowed them to play some lovely flowing rugby. Adam “must be a home game” Wilkinson crossed under the posts, only for another easy conversion to be missed, before James Radcliff touched down in the corner for his second of the game. With the most difficult kick of the day Tom Dutton finally added the game’s first conversion and the final score was 40-11.
With just one league game left Eccles know that their destiny is in their own hands; a win at St. Benedicts next week would secure them second in the league and set up a promotion play off against Broughton Park on 27/04. But West Cumbria is always a difficult place to go so the boys will have to be more focussed than ever to get the job done.