With a week’s rest following a tidal flood of the upper reaches of the Eden valley Eccles once again had another early meet for a day out to Keswick. Passing through the Tebay Gap and going over the Shap Summit the views of snow on the mountain tops was impressive. Stopping off at Tebay services the only thing missing was a rendezvous with one of our Lancashire League mates on a similar trip of their own. However we did bump into Vale of Lune on their way to Carlisle. Why they had to stop at Tebay heaven knows, they must have small bladders in Lancaster that’s all I can say.
The pitch at Keswick apart from one elephant trap I found and hurriedly filled in, was impressive. The only discussion was when do we switch on the flood lights and who had a shilling for the meter. Believe me, they were needed by the end.
As you would expect from the home side Keswick made all the early pressure including a missed penalty attempt. After this let off Eccles started to put together the type of rugby they know they can play and with the customary driving play we eventually had Andy Frost reaching as far as his little arms would let him to score on the line. Lee Robson, who had brought his own band of travelling supporters, knocked over the conversion.
The home side came back at Eccles and were soon rewarded with a penalty kick which was made good. With a true repost Eccles started to apply the pressure and dominate proceedings but as fate wishes to do, an attempted wide pass in the backs was intercepted by Keswick resulting in a try close to the sticks which was converted.
Again Eccles came back looking for justice on the board. With a penalty being awarded in the last minute of play the attacking lineout option was chosen rather than the 3 points. Admirable determination and self belief but not good game theory to my mind, as alas the lineout was not effective enough and the half finished on 10 – 7 to the home side.
At about half time the bucket that had been sent round the crowd was considered sufficiently full to cover the cost of the Lecky for the lights and so the formal switch on was held. OK someone flicked a switch somewhere in the clubhouse.
The second half kicked off with Eccles having all the play, possession and territory and after a series of bungles attempts by what appeared to be every one of the forwards Eccles eventually scored with a push over try. As I’ve said before credit goes to all the forwards for a PO so no name check for actual scorer. Lee Robson again kicked the conversion.
Eccles continued to look for more points but were unable to find any reward for all the hard work being put in, not only by the forwards but also the backs with Freddy Oakey playing at scrum half and battling all day and Tom Chapman fresh off operations tackling like a demon. As Eccles were unable to capitalise on all the hard work Keswick started to scent blood and looked for the chance of a try to clinch the game. A few long punts were send down field by the home side and with Eccles failing to clear their 22, Keswick were allowed to mount wave after wave of attack on the Eccles line. However the thin, for some, blue line held strong and after a period of added time that could have been measured in epochs the final whistle was blown.
Good warm hospitality from Keswick in the bar after the game with Eccles cleaning up the raffle prizes. The only down side was seeing Greg Wilson (voted the man of the match) disgrace the club with his failed attempt at the 2 ½ pint challenge.