The Ladies made it back-to-back wins with a hard fought victory over Buckingham Swans.
Following the Ladies impressive win last week and the Buckingham squad ravaged by injuries some people were expecting the game to be a one-sided affair, but this was never the case. The opening exchanges were an incredibly tight affair with Buckingham controlling possession and territory thanks largely to their size advantage in the scrum, but being held by strong defence from Sadie Light and Sophie “Nemo” Rogers. Eccles wasted opportunities to score on the breakaway, treating their support runners with disdain.
It was 30 minutes in when an improving Eccles line-out provided an opportunity for Selena Lockyer to breakaway and her speed and evasiveness took her round a couple of defenders to score underneath the posts. Vickie Merrick added the extras. A few minutes later, following some good running from Rebecca “Titch” Owen, the backs cut through again allowing Selena to score her second of the game. Vickie again added the extras. Half time 14-0.
The second half started in much the same vein as both teams conspired to cancel each other out. It took something of a freak occurence to break the arm wrestle; the majority of players from both teams stopped following what appeared to be a knock on, but Igz Ekoku didn't agree and neither did the referee as she shot down the line to score in the corner. “Play to the whistle” has never been more true. But Buckingham didn't dwell on the decision and came back strongly. A sustained spell of pressure resulted in a penalty being given away just short of the Eccles line. The Swans elected to take a scrum and pushed their way over despite the best efforts of the outsized Eccles pack.
The last quarter of the game started to open up a bit as the effort levels from both sides began to take their toll. First Sally Morris showed a delightful dummy and step to split the defence and race away under the posts. Then Buckingham came back again and barged their way over out wide. With time running out Sadie Light was cruelly denied what would have been a bonus point try by an unsighted referee, leaving the score at 26-10. Forward of the Match went to Rebecca Owen for her excellent tidying-up at the scrum and strong running all day. Igz Ekoku was named Back of the Match for her inspirational footwork despite claiming to have dancefloor-inflicted bad knee.
After the game there was some disappointment that a bonus point, which would have moved the team to fourth in the league, was missed but some solace was taken in picking up a win despite not being at their best. One thing learned for sure is that there are no easy games at this level, and next week's trip to Birkenhead Park will be no exception.