Eccles Ladies faced West Bridgford on a surprisingly warm October afternoon. We have met West Bridgford a number of times in the past and the games have always been very closely fought, last season both teams managed a victory at the opposition’s ground.
The game kicked off in near perfect rugby conditions. Straight away Eccles were able to put pressure on after the kick and had an early opportunity within the opposition’s half. We could not deliver on that occasion but managed to retain possession. With a long passage of pressure Eccles were finally able to get over the line, with Selena Lockyer from the centres running through the defensive line to score beneath the posts. Joey Edwards added the extras to make it 7-0.
However, possession then went in West Bridgford’s favour and it was their turn to put on the pressure. They had some strong forwards and quick backs and they put the Eccles defence to the test. A scrum in the 22 gave them their best opportunity yet, and some confusion from the Eccles pack gave West Bridgford the chance capitalise; they sent the ball out wide and made the score 7-7. Another try from West Bridgford followed soon after some strong running from their number 7. Eccles learnt the hard way what happens when you try to tackle strong runners up high, 7-12.
With some new determination Eccles were keen not to go into half time on the back foot. We marched forward and played with clearer structure and passion. There was strong running from both forwards and backs and West Bridgford conceded a number of penalties. One of these penalties gave Nina Martyn the chance to do what she does best and she charged her way over the line. The extras could not be added so we went into half time 12-12.
The second half was just as closely fought, and Eccles’ defensive line was maybe not as strong or united as they would have liked. After more continued pressure a strong run from the West Bridgford 8 took the score to 12-17. After a stern talking to under the posts we made sure we would not go out without a fight. A few substitutions were made to give us some fresh legs and we attacked the last quarter of the game with new gusto. An excellent run from Selena Lockyer down the right wing brought us right back into it. Unfortunately, despite a valiant effort, the extras could not be added, 17-17.
The last few minutes seemed to go so quickly, and we felt that momentum was finally back in our favour. Although it was clear West Bridgford too were not happy with the draw. Eccles conceded a penalty in the last play of the game and the West Bridgford kicker stepped up to the pressure and placed a brilliant kick between the posts, 17-20 full time. It was extremely disappointing to lose after such a closely fought game, but we just weren’t quite good enough on the day. Forward of the match went to Cathy Hassett for her continued strong running and go forward, back of the match was awarded to Kirsty-Lee Griffiths, who had her first game at 15 and made a number of crucial tackles and was very strong on the ball.
Report by Katie Houghton