It’s pretty difficult to report on a game that you play in, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story? Despite the icy conditions of earlier in the week, Friday’s rain meant the game could go ahead, so Whitehaven were cleared for departure early on Saturday morning. It was the first return of the fixture of the season and the first chance for Eccles to redress what had gone before when the big ‘haven pack had worn Eccles down to pick up the win.
In the opening exchanges it looked like it could be another difficult day for Eccles as strong running from the visitors opened up gaps in the defence and forced the home side to concede penalties. Luckily for them the kicker had left his kicking boots at home so the scoreboard remained untroubled. This time waiting for kicks allowed Eccles to regroup and soon their defence was looking much stronger. With ball in hand they were making yards forward and an offload to Greg Wilson saw him outpace the defence and a limping full back to score next to the posts. Lee Robson added the extras.
Eccles were now on top in the game and looking dangerous. The set piece was working well and the visitors were under a lot of pressure. When they conceded a penalty close to their own line Eccles decided to test their upper hand and called for a scrum. A few seconds later Glen Cahill managed to do what he’s failed to so many times this season and put his hand on the ball over the line. Robson again added the conversion. Approaching half time Whitehaven conceded another penalty in a similar position and were rewarded with the same result. This time the conversion was missed so the half-time score was 19-0.
Into the second half and the only thing that looked like it could trouble Eccles was taking (Tom Dutton) or receiving (Glen Cahill and Andrew Maddocks) kick offs. Good to see all that practice in training paid off. The pack were denied a hat-trick of pushovers when ‘haven resorted to collapsing the scrum which the ref didn’t penalise, but it didn’t hold up the scoring for long as Greg Wilson “crawling like a slug” (that’s what the notes say) got in for his second and the team’s fourth to claim the bonus point.
After that it was a simply a question of how many points could be scored before it went dark. Ellis O’Neill worked out which pitch he was meant to be on just in time to receive the ball and score his first try for the club. And in the final minutes another Mark Greenhalgh break was finished off by Andrew Frost. Tom Dutton managed to direct one of his kicks where he intended to make the final score 36-0.
A good win for Eccles and a good day as results in other games meant that they moved up to second in the table. They can enjoy the Christmas festivities and break now before returning to a game that will have a big say in the play-off place battle, away at Aldwinians on January 5th.