Well, which cliche do you want? A game of two halves, more like three thirds, it’s not over till the final whistle, don’t switch off, no relaxing, if it’s working don’t change it, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Any permutation of any of the above would do to describe last Saturday’s game.
Eccles started as you would expect from the performances of the last few weeks, playing rugby with ball in hand and moving it well. This was very soon rewarded with a Mark Greenhalgh try following good running from the backs and then a forwards set piece close to the home try line. Lee Robson converted. Littleborough came straight back with a try of their own to show all there was a game to be played.
We then had twenty minutes or so of total dominance by the whole Eccles team playing probably their best rugby of the season. This comprised of two tries by Luke Cullen, both with substantial contributions from Fred Oakey, the first following a return of a Littleborough 22 drop out with the whole three quarter line in full flow, Lee Robson again converting. The second came from a ball being won from a home side line out and again saw the backs running wild to score with ease. With Eccles in full control the ball this time was moved right and Will Parkinson was set away down the wing, to maintain momentum the ball was passed inside to the supporting players who then linked together and set James Radcliff free to score.
With Eccles leading 5 – 24 and the bonus point secure everything was looking sweet and dandy, or so we thought. With Eccles in total control the game plan appeared to change, the foot slip, or was it kicked? off the pedal and the motor stalled. The home side then came back at Eccles again and by the half way mark had scored two tries of their own, one of which was converted. Half time score 17 – 24.
Where the first half was full of flowing rugby by both sides the second was dower. A hard battle between the forwards prevailed and despite much huffing and puffing by both sides no one appeared to hold dominance. Then with 15 minutes to go Lee Robson slotted a penalty to give Eccles a 10 point lead and room to breathe. Alas this was quickly reduced by a Littleborough penalty.
With the clock ticking down and the pressure mounting Littleborough scored their fourth try to put themselves within 2 points of Eccles. The apparent coup de grace then came in the form of a drop goal on or about the final whistle which gave the home side the narrowest of leads. With seconds to play Eccles went back at the home side and in the dying seconds they were awarded a penalty outside the Littleborough 22. The attempted kick struck the post and with Eccles regaining the loose ball and pressing for the line the final whistle was blown. Final score 28 – 27.
To say the very least a frustrating game, especially when we consider the lead that was thrown away. But as Eric Idle would say, “always look on the bright side of life”. Two bonus points were gained, the same for a draw and only two less than a low points win. Also, and you could say more worrying, was the number of injuries picked up.