The Ladies welcomed near neighbours Altrincham-Kersal to Gorton Street in the first round of the “National” Intermediate Cup. There were few candidates for the end of season highlight reel (apart from maybe a couple of bloopers) but was still a comfortable win in the end.
Barring a couple of early mistakes and penalties that allowed the visitors to temporarily visit the home side’s half, the opening quarter was spent with Eccles camped in the Altrincham-Kersal 22. But despite the territorial dominance there were no points on the board due to forced attempts at final passes and some uncharacteristic handling errors. On the 18 minute mark scrum half Fawn Lucas took matters into her own hands and darted across the line for the opening score.
Eccles came forward again but this time were thwarted by a combination of white line fever and last ditch defence, with multiple opportunities to score out wide being shunned in favour of scrappy play up the middle. It took until the 32nd minute, while A-K were down to 14 players following a yellow card for deliberate offside, before Eccles scored their second try through debutant Mikayla Hale. Natalie Gill added the extras. The message to move the ball around finally seemed to sink as Igemi Ekoku ran in a third try just before half-time which Nat Gill again converted.
At half-time there were wide scale changes to keep bodies fresh ahead of the team’s return to league action next weekend. But the rhythm of the game didn’t seem to be disrupted too much as on the resumption Mikayla Hale went in for her second try. A few minutes later, following some impressive hand-offs from Kelly John, Natalie Gill was able to cross for a score out wide.
To the visitors credit they stuck with their task and following a string of penalties mounted some pressure of their own. Following a clumsy tackle from Hale she was shown a yellow card, and after it was explained to her what that meant she left the field for 10 minutes. During this time Altrincham-Kersal had their best moment of the game as their fly half accelerated through the extra space in midfield and held off the chasers to cross the line and make it 31-5 with 20 minutes to go.
Eccles were keen to extinguish any hopes of a fight back and after some good running from Natasha Hopkins it was Alex Stokes that threw an audacious dummy to split the defence and go in under the posts. Natalie Gill slotted her third conversion. With the game now settled the last 15 minutes played out without much incident, until the dying moments when Sara Davis peeled off the back of a scrum for a well taken try, making the final score 41-5. Natasha Hopkins hard work in defence and at the breakdown was rewarded with the Forward of the Match award. Mikayla Hale’s two tries earned her Back of the Match.
Eccles safely through to the second round which picks up following the conclusion of the league season in February. Altrincham-Kersal will enter the plate competition where we wish them all the best. The Ladies next game is a return to league action when they visit Birkenhead Park on 17/11/13, before welcoming West Park Leeds to Gorton Street for their next home game on 24/11/13, with a 14:00 kick off.