Eccles Travelled to Kendal on Saturday knowing that points needed to be taken from the game if they were to keep out of the relegation zone.
The game set off at a frenetic pace with the Eccles side putting a great passage of play together into a strong wind, after twenty five phases of play, it appeared that Kendal were in for a game. Using their strong running winger, Kendal finally broke the deadlock however Eccles would be disappointed with the defence, or lack of it.
It wasn’t long however until James Wright broke through to let the onlookers know that the visitors were up for the challenge, George Oakey levelled the scores. Some great work by both backs and forwards kept pressure on the home side but fighting into the biting wind and with some very strong defence, Kendal held out.
Shortly before half time, after being awarded a questionable penalty for not releasing, Eccles were reduced to fourteen men after Sean Griffin was shown yellow for an alleged infringement on the scrum half who looked to break free from a quick tap. Kendal used the wind to gain territory and though defending resolutely, the visitors defence was breached as a Kendal player bundled over to take a lead into half time.
Shortly after the break whilst still down to fourteen men, things got worse for the Eccles side as Simon Donovan saw yellow for a similar incident which opened the floodgates for Kendal to run in three tries in quick succession before the sin bins were back on and Eccles back to a full compliment.
Eccles now looked deep inside, realising the game, whilst probably out of reach, the losing bonus point was on after some great forward work at the scrum saw Mark Greenhalgh plunder over in the corner. George Oakey converted but it was the lure of two more tries that was the order of the day. After some great forward surges, a superbly measured cross field kick was gathered in by Matt Parkinson who made it three tries to the visitors and though the gap was reduced, Eccles main focus was on one last try to keep the season’s destiny in their own hands.
From the kick off, Eccles drove hard at Kendal with great ball retention, a scything marauding run from Simon Donovan saw him redeem his earlier misdemeanour and crash over from thirty yards to get the valuable fourth try and the priceless bonus point.
Eccles will look back and ask ‘What if’ and the game clearly illustrated that at level six, you cannot afford to go down to fourteen men never mind thirteen as sides will make you pay, experienced players like Griffin and Donovan know this only too well. Kendal were a strong well drilled outfit with excellent halves who kept the defence guessing all day but they certainly knew they were in a game and the 43 – 26 winning margin could and should have been so much less.
Eccles will front up in training this week in preparation for a blockbuster of a weekend as they entertain Carlisle and hope Bolton don’t better their result against Penrith – game on.
Match report by Sean Griffin