After just falling short at Altrincham last week Eccles wanted to put things right against Wilmslow. But with more players ruled out this week – Simon Donovan, Sean Griffin, Tom Coe and Adam Wilkinson – it would be far from an easy task.
The opening quarter of the game was a scrappy affair with neither side able to establish themselves. Wilmslow had the better of possession but had nothing to show for it other than a couple of missed penalty attempts. Eccles created some half chances but weren’t respecting the ball. They were also under pressure in the scrum restricting their chances further. Even so, a couple of George Oakey penalties managed to open up a 6-0 lead by the half hour mark.
This lead wasn’t to last long though as just a minute or so later the Wilmslow flanker walked past two or three poor attempted tackles to touch down out wide and reduce the gap to a single point. Eccles responded with a couple of forays into opposition territory but seemed to slow the play down at the wrong moment and the momentum dissipated. James Wright’s frustration showed as he was shown a yellow card. No further scores gave Eccles the half time lead at 6-5.
Everything to play for in the second half and it was Wilmslow who struck first. After missed penalties in the first half this time they opted to kick to the corner. And a regulation catch and drive was executed well to lead for the first time. The conversion was added to make it 12-6.
Eccles came back brightly and looked to increase the tempo of the game. The visitors struggled to keep up and the inside centre was shown a yellow card for leaving hands in the ruck too long. Everyone expected the kicking tee to be sent on but instead Eccles called for a scrum. In keeping with the pressure they’d been under all day, the ball was turned over and another chance had passed. But Eccles still looked to press forward and on 56 minutes the ball was kicked wide towards support. On another day the ball would have sat up nicely but on this occasion it bounced straight to the Wilmslow winger who swatted aside a couple of attempted tackles as he raced nearly the length of the field and touched down in the corner, to open up a 17-6 lead.
This score seemed to deflate Eccles and it was mainly one way traffic after that. On 67 minutes the dominance of the Wilmslow scrum was asserted again as they pushed over from close range. On 72 minutes another messy scrum resulted in the ball coming out of the side, and it was the visitors who reacted fastest to swoop on the ball and crash over the line. Then with the last play of the game, with Eccles throwing the ball around loosely, possession was lost and the Wilmslow winger was able to run in his second try of the game. The conversion made the final score 34-6.
Eccles will be hoping to get some of their more experienced heads back on the field next week, and tighten up all around, as they make the familiar trip to Blackburn.