Eccles Ladies 2XV took the field for the first time against another development side in the form of Halifax. In awful conditions the game was a testament to the improving standards of ladies rugby as both sides had good moments, resulting in a 31-10 victory for the home side.
The team comprised new recruits from local universities and the development days that took place before Christmas, old recruits that have decided to put their boots back on, and a few first team players that hadn’t had much game time recently. For many of these players the changing rooms before the game were the first time they’d met, so the warm up entailed no small amount of bonding alongside the physical and mental preparation, all of which was received with good humour.
With soft ground underfoot and a slippery ball the opening exchanges were a tight affair. Both sides were fully committed to the breakdown resulting in some big collisions. There wasn’t much flowing rugby but the ball was being moved surprisingly well. After 10 minutes Barbara Daher found herself in some space on the outside and passed to the supporting Sally Morris to trot in under the posts. Sally also added the conversion. More tough running and tackling followed, particularly from Nina Martyn and Emily Wetherell, but there were no further scores for 20 minutes. When a chance did come it was on the outside again and Sara Davis put her foot down to outstrip the covering defence.
A third try quickly followed as the Eccles girl began to gel. Again the ball was moved well despite the mud and Gabby Bullen showed great pace and timing to hit the ball at speed and run to the line untouched. Sally’s second conversion opened a 19 point lead. But just before half-time Halifax showed it wasn’t going to be one way traffic by crashing over for their own try. 19-5 at the break.
The second half started much like the first, though tiredness and cold were now starting to creep in, with handling mistakes being made by both sides disrupting the flow of the game. It took nearly 20 minutes for the next score to be added when Hannah Robinson showed great strength to pull a number of defenders over the line with her. Next it was Halifax’s turn to show what they can do, and kept the ball through multiple phases to progress up the field. The Eccles defence stood as strong as they could but eventually the pressure told and the visitors picked up their second score of the day.
With time running out Eccles pressed forward again looking for a final score. After another good run from Rachel Twigg space opened up for Selena Lockyer and she didn’t need to be asked twice to race away and score behind the posts. Sally Morris added her third conversion of the day to make the final score 31-10.
Despite the conditions both teams really enjoyed the day and got a lot out of it. An extremely encouraging start for the Eccles 2XV who will be looking to build on this for their next game in a few weeks’ time.