Eccles entertained Kendal on Saturday in what can only be described as conditions ‘wetter than an otter’s pocket’. Having put in a sterling effort at Penrith the previous week, the home side knew they would need to improve even further if they were to take valuable points from the game.
Eccles kicked off and were on the front foot and were rewarded with a penalty which George Oakey slotted for an early 3-0 lead. It was apparent that handling was going to be crucial in the monsoon conditions and with no quarter given by either sides ‘brick wall’ defense. Kendal were out of the traps when it came to the rush defense and as a result of a good hit, a lucky break the ball broke kindly as the visitors subsequently went over for a converted try, 3-7.
As the half wore on, the man in the middle found himself giving more and more penalties for breakdown infringements for over exuberant competing. Still tight, the game was turning into a slugfest and was not for the faint hearted, Eccles were illustrating dominance at the set piece and were guaranteeing own ball and threatening opposition, some great throwing in by Tom Coe and scrummaging by the front five. The home side went to sleep however down the blindside from a scrum and within the blink of an eye, the lively scrum half tore down the channel to slide over for another converted try taking the score out to 3-14.
Eccles immediately came back and hammered the black & amber line. The Kendal Lock pleaded innocence after numerous warnings for infringements in the red zone but he was warned for coming through and yellow carded by the ref. With a man short, came the most important part of the game. Eccles lay siege on Kendal on numerous occasions. Eventually the line broke & they cut through, but Kendal stole the ball and broke away. Eccles had great efforts thwarted and with near misses by Sam Simpson and Mark Greenhalgh.
On into the Second half and it was a similar story of the Gorton Street outfit hammering at a resilient Kendal defense, some good forays by the home side were continually met with a strong tackle or handling error in terrible conditions. After a clash of heads, Sean Griffin was forced to leave the field with blood streaming from a head wound. After the resulting halt in play, Eccles continued down field and after more indiscipline, George Oakey was able to kick another penalty to make the score 6-14.
The crowd were giving every ounce of encouragement to the Navy & White (all black) men but the bounce of the ball or decision from the whistle blower just wouldn’t fall for them and as the game came to a close, one last charge from a lineout saw Eccles pushed into touch and that was that.
Eccles have now played Penrith and Kendal in quick succession and will look back on both games with a ‘what could/should have been’ – it was quite apparent in the post-match debrief that we should not be content to with a losing bonus point or ‘a goo effort’ – we threw away opportunities on Saturday and last week to win both games.
After licking wounds and a good week in training Eccles will travel to Kirkby Lonsdale who are flying high in North One West, but go there expecting to get more than ‘something’ from the game….bring it on.
Report by Sean Griffin