It was an early start for the Ladies first game of the season as they made the three hour trip north to Newcastle.
In the opening exchanges the long journey looked to have taken its toll as Eccles were uncharacteristically passive in both defence and at the breakdown which allowed the home side to exert the early pressure. Their back line was looking dangerous which the inexperienced visitors’ backs were struggling to deal with. The game was 14 minutes old when their winger showed great pace racing in the corner. A few minutes later it was their centre doing much the same on the opposite side of the pitch, this time with the conversion added to make it 12-0.
Suddenly Eccles sprang into life, led by some mean defence from Siobhan Mullen and Barbara Daher. Alex Stokes and Rebecca Owen were being a nuisance at the breakdown and causing turnovers. It was one of these on 26 minutes that saw the ball moved out wide for Shelley Powe who sent in the returning Kelly John to put the visitors on the board. Eccles piled on more pressure and a Stokes break was unlucky not to be finished off. Unfortunately the home side swooped on the loose ball and moved it through hands to break away the length of the field. Despite the best chasing back efforts of Fawn Lucas Novo’s kept the ball alive to put their other winger on the scoreboard. Again the conversion was good. With time running out in an eventful first half Claire Knapp caught the home side’s defence knapping as she raced in from 40 yards. Half time 19-10 and everything to play for.
The first score in the second half would be important but unfortunately it went to Novo’s as their backs hit a 20 minute purple patch that would kill the game off. A second try for the winger, two and three for the #13 and one for their hard working fly half made it 41-10, despite the heroic attempts of stand in full back Sally Morris. Eccles wouldn’t go down without a fight and Rebecca Owen crashed her way over from short range to spark a chase for a bonus point. Alas the only further scores came for the home side, again creating space out wide, to make the final score 55-17. Siobhan Mullen was named Forward of the Match for her fearsome defence around the ruck and Sally Morris was named Back of the Match for her best attempts at keeping the home side out.
Despite the one-sided score there were only a couple of problem areas that got repeatedly exploited. Hopefully these can be corrected in this week’s training. And with a few players returning from absence there’s no reason the team can’t be optimistic for this coming Sunday’s game at home against old rivals Birkenhead Park, kicking off at 14:30.