The visitors from Nottingham avenged their reversal from earlier in the season in a textbook ‘game of two halves’ to kick off 2014.
West Bridgford were on the score sheet within 90 seconds after Eccles conceded a penalty which was kicked from 20 yards out. But this was pretty much the only scoring chance the Midlandsers had in the first half as Eccles dominated.
Good runs from Katie Houghton, Kelly John and Fawn Lucas were moving Eccles up the pitch and they were unlucky not to break away a couple of times. But on 20 minutes they managed to cross the line as the ball was moved out wide allowing Igemi Ekoku to carry the full back over with her. The conversion fell short so the score was 5-3. Eccles continued to apply pressure but were taking contact too often when there appeared to be an overlap on the outside. A number of chances were blown but Eccles were still confident heading into the half time break.
The start of the second half was a disaster for the home side. A scuffed kick off was picked up by the opposition #8 and she broke through multiple tackles to run 40m down the pitch. A few phases later they were pressing the Eccles line which caused a penalty to be conceded. From the resulting tap the WB scrum half seemed to knock on the ball before passing it, causing the Eccles girls to stop, but the referee didn’t agree so the runner crashed over for an easy try. A costly lesson of playing to the whistle for the home side.
Eccles struggled to maintain possession despite some excellent tackling and work at the break down from Jin Zhou and Shelley Powe. West Bridgford had their tails up and were running with renewed vigour. After 53 minutes the game was held up as Jemima Killick suffered a nasty cut to her leg. This used up Eccles’ only replacement which would prove telling late in the game. From the stoppage WB resumed where they left off and piled more pressure on the Eccles defence. After 60 minutes they forced their way over next to the posts and added the conversion to take 15-5 lead.
The visitors were perhaps guilty of taking their foot off the gas as Eccles came back into the game. More good yards were made by the backs, with Sally Morris and Abi Thompson combining well. Then after the forwards retained the ball for a couple of phases it was shipped out in the opposite direction and Igemi Ekoku raced away for her second try of the game. The conversion attempt agonisingly hit the post but with only five points in it the game was most definitely wide open.
With 10 minutes to go the lack of Eccles replacements started to take its toll, with at least four players carrying injuries which would normally have seen them replaced. This meant they couldn’t quell the resurgent visitors, who scored a final try to wrap the game up, 20-10.
Eccles have just seven days to pick themselves up but will be looking forward to reinforcements returning from holidays and injuries to boost the numbers. Novocastrians are the visitors to Gorton Street on 19/01/14 for a 14:00 kick off.