For the third time in their last four games the Ladies lost out to less than a score, with yet more late heart break. If points were given out for effort they’d be top of the table but unfortunately the league doesn’t work like that and now face a must win game against Carlisle next week.
With a few players returning from absence the mood before the game was positive, despite some still playing out of position. And the game was started well with Alex Stokes and Igemi Ekoku making inroads through the visitors defence. The Eccles defence was also working well with Sadie Light and Siobhan Mullen leading the way. But after 11 minutes it was Camp Hill who were first on the score sheet, driving their way over for an unconverted try. Both teams worked hard for the remainder of the half but both were guilty of too many unforced errors, particularly when in attacking positions. The only further score was a penalty kick on the stroke of half time which extended the midlandsers lead to 8-0.
In the second half Camp Hill came out strongly and piled pressure on the Eccles line. Only good defence from Jenny Whittle and Sara Davis prevented them from scoring, and some deep kicks from Kelly John eased the pressure. But Eccles struggled to clear their lines and conceded another penalty which was kicked to make it 11-0.
With 20 minutes left Eccles came to life and started building some pressure of their own. After strong runs from Katie Houghton and Barbara Daher, Igemi Ekoku was able to wrong foot some defenders and accelerate away to score next to the posts. Sadie Light slotted the extras to make it 11-7 and bring Eccles right back into it. At this point Camp Hill looked like they were just trying to hold on for the win, so all the pace and impetus was coming from the home side. 10 minutes passed with Eccles in the ascendancy due to some darting runs from Fawn Lucas and good work at the breakdown from Karen Radband. Finally Eccles got the break they had worked so hard for as Igemi Ekoku broke again and had enough speed and strength to round the full back and score under the posts. Another conversion from Sadie Light gave the home side the lead for the first time, 14-11 with eight minutes to go.
Unfortunately, in what has happened too many times this season, Eccles failed to deal with the restart and turned over possession in their own half. Camp Hill mounted one last attack and despite some good last ditch defence from Jem Killick and Jin Zhou Eccles were unable to keep them out. The conversion was missed so the score was 16-14 with five minutes left. Eccles came forward again but this last time the last pass wouldn’t stick and a couple of chances were missed. The visitors kicked the ball out much to their relief, final score 16-14 to Camp Hill.
Another huge effort from the Eccles Ladies against a team they’d been soundly beaten by earlier in the year, and with so many players unavailable. They can take solace from the possibilities in front of them when they get a little more experience back on the field in the new year. But before then they have a crucial game away at Carlisle on Sunday, 14:00 kick off.