The Ladies made a return to winning ways with a hard-earned result against Preston Grasshoppers in the National Intermediate Cup.
With the recent weather reducing the number of pitches available the game was held on the training pitch, reducing the open space for flowing rugby and setting up a physical encounter. Right from the off this proved to be the case with both teams getting stuck in at the breakdown, Jenny Whittle and Rebecca Owen leading the way. The visitors were coming up with some big tackles that were thwarting Eccles’ efforts up the middle. But after 10 minutes the ball was moved out wide that allowed Igemi Ekoku to break away and come in behind the posts to score. Sadie Light added the extras. 10 minutes later Sadie added her name to the tries section of the scoresheet too, breaking the line 20 yards out and carrying the full back across the line with her. The conversion couldn’t be added from out wide.
The Grasshoppers team continued to give a good account of themselves in defence and at the ruck, but their attacking play was a little predictable which allowed the home team to swarm forward. Despite conceding a couple of penalties they never really looked in danger. When Eccles gained possession they were carrying the ball forward well, particularly Karen Radband and Katie Houghton. On 33 minutes, after tying the tiring defence in, the ball was moved wide quickly and Igemi Ekoku broke away for her second. Sadie added her second conversion which brought the score to 19-0 at half-time.
60 seconds into the second half Ekoku swooped on a loose ball and sprinted away down the wing to complete her hat-trick. Shortly after she was withdrawn from the field for a well-earned rest as Eccles began to use their bench. This disrupted things a little but not too much as was proven after 51 minutes when Jemima Killick crashed her way over for her first try in navy and white. There were signs that the floodgates may open but Preston stuck to their task and never made it easy for Eccles. One more try was added late on as Barbara Daher forced her way over following a great run, one of many on the day, by Jin Zhou. With one more conversion from Light the final score was 36-0.
The win will have boosted the Ladies confidence ahead of their final league game and remaining cup matches. They’re next in action on 16/02 against Darlington for a 14:00 kick off at Gorton Street. Let’s hope the weather has improved by then.