This Sunday Eccles Ladies 1st team faced Novocastrians. Novos travelled down from Newcastle to defend their unbeaten record against Eccles. Eccles were looking to put an end to their string of losses that had plagued them since the 3rd game of the season.
Eccles got out of the blocks strongly, and straight from the kick off were able to put the pressure on inside Novos’ half. Eccles had some of their most fluid play of the season and pieced together a number of phases. A break down the wing allowed for quick ball from the ruck and Charlie Wild, playing at 8, put in some good footwork to find the try line.
Novos were then able to return the pressure in the Eccles half and they put up some strong defence and forced mistakes from the Eccles’ hands. However, a strong scrum (a special mention to Eto Ding’s hooking) turned the ball over and again Eccles were able to use their pace out wide to make ground. Lauren Harris, one of our wingers was constantly testing the Novos’ defence, and some lovely interplay between her and the rest of back three (Kirsty Griffiths and Igz Ekoku) allowed her to use her great pace and reach for the line in the corner.
Fired up from being 10-0 behind Novos kicked back. Their strong running in the centres and a bit of miscommunication in our defence allowed Novos to make yards. Eccles gave away a couple of penalties and suddenly found Novos knocking on the 5metre line. However, Eccles rallied together, stuck their studs in and refused to concede. Strong scrums and some great kicking from Claire Knapp and Joey Edwards allowed Eccles to clear their lines.
Again Eccles had chances within the Novos’ 22, but Novos are formidable opposition and their defence was solid. However, Eccles were patient and maintained possession, when the ball was lost we returned pressure and won it back. There were some notably good rucking and turnovers from Karen Radbrand and Sophie Rogers. The Eccles forwards were happy to carry and retain the ball- Nina Martyn and Mavis Tam making some important yards. Eventually the pressure paid off, a break from Babs Daher down the middle opened up the space, giving Lauren Harris the chance to cross the line once again. Eccles went into half time 17-0.
Novos clearly entered the second half with new gusto and the balance of play turned towards them. Despite some smashing tackles from Selena Lockyer and Shelley Powe in the centres Novos retained possession. They used the space around the ruck cleverly and were able to gain valuable yards. Eventually after a penalty conceded by Eccles they kicked to touch and had their strongest attacking position of the game. Novos were able to sent up a textbook driving maul and crossed over the try line. 17-5.
But that was not the end of the game and Eccles were determined to end the game on their terms. Sally Morris was as vocal as ever and urged us to steady the ship. She lead by example and put Eccles back on track with steady phases. Cathy Hassett and Hayley Bennett offered fresh legs and ran strongly for the forwards. Whenever Novos regained the ball the defensive effort was lifted, Emma Connolly counter rucked brilliantly and Siobhan Mullen put in some crunching tackles. After continued pressure it was Charlie Wild who again made it over the try line making the final score 22-5. It was an absolutely superb effort from all involved; spectators gave huge credit to both sides and the quality of the rugby they had seen.
What made the day even more special was the representation across the whole Ladies and Girls section. The Ladies 2nd team secured a very convincing 71-7 victory over Workington which gave the Ladies their first ever double header victory. The girls had fixtures in the u18s, u15s and u13s ages and all were won by Eccles. The female section of the club continues to go from strength to strength; 1 day, 5 matches, 5 wins, over 70 ladies and girls playing rugby in navy and white!
Report by Katie Houghton