Eccles Ladies 1XV played Loughborough last Sunday in a tense battle. It was far from the most high scoring game, but arguably it was the closest contest of the season. The away fixture against Loughborough had not been a high point for Eccles with the final score leaving Eccles far behind the opposition. Determined to set the record straight Eccles were excited to catch Loughborough off guard and play the better rugby.
It was a cold, dark day at Gorton street but both sides started the fight right from the whistle with both laying down early attempts at gaining the advantage with clean, open play around the half way line. Both sides had chances giving the spectators quite a show with great tackles, clean line breaks and beautiful interplay. Unfortunately Eccles conceded a penalty just outside their 22 and the Loughborough 10, clearly a confident kicker, was able to convert it into 3 points. Another penalty followed closely behind and the ball again was sent between the posts: 0-6. After the restart Loughborough had possession again and were pressurising the Eccles line. However, Eccles were determined to not let any more points in and conducted some text book defence under pressure making tackle after tackle, holding up tries and clearing their lines. Still Loughborough kept pressurising, continuing to gain momentum. Eccles maintained their focus and held them off up to half time: a mini victory.
After half time Eccles came back refreshed and enjoyed more possession and territory. Fresh legs from the bench were also used and added a great injection of pace. Words had been had about maintaining the ball and utilising the chances given and Eccles were keen to show they had listened. However, the Loughborough defence proved to be just as determined as Eccles’ had been and they refused to concede tries. Despite valiant efforts from across the field there were to be no points; the game ended 0-6. Forward of the match went to Mavis Tam for her excellent work at the break down and in defence; and back of the match Igz Ekoku who was looking particularly sharp in attack and defence as well as playing in a new position. However, all the squad needs to be congratulated for showing serious grit and real Eccles heart.