Eccles Ladies returned to action following the Christmas break with a long trip to the North East to face Novocastrians. But with the recent poor weather the game was switched to the artificial surface at Gosforth RFC.
The surface played its part in the opening exchanges of the game as it appeared neither side wanted to land on it, resulting in some uncharacteristically generous defence. The game was just two minutes old when the Novo’s winger dived over in the corner for the first score of the game. Seven minutes later Igz Ekoku scored a very similar try for Eccles to level things. But the parity didn’t last long as Novo’s marched straight down to the other end of the field and bundled over for another score.
After some severe “words of encouragement” from the coaching staff Eccles then woke up and the game started to resemble something close to rugby. Strong running from Kath Wilkinson and Rebecca Owen, complimented by creativity from the back three of Igz, Lisa Campbell and Fawn Lucas, built the pressure which allowed Claire Knapp to wrestle over and make the score 10-10.
With the journey and any worries about the pitch now a distant memory, Eccles broke from half time in optimistic mood. Tough tackling from Alex Stokes and Sadie Light got Eccles on the front foot which gave Igz the space she loves to attack, which she did successfully to score her second and give the visitors the lead for the first time, 15-10.
The momentum now behind Eccles, they hoped they could capitalise and kill the game off. Unfortunately what happened next was one of the more bizarre passages in recent memory. Due to a combination of silly mistakes and harsh refereeing decisions Novo’s took up camp on the Eccles line for literally 20 minutes. The defensive efforts of Karen Radband, Faye Warrender and many more were outstanding but eventually the relentless pressure paid off and the Novo’s winger dove over for her second try of the game to bring things back level.
These efforts had obviously taken their toll on the team, particularly on the back of an early start and a long journey, and the walk back to halfway was short of the usual enthusiasm. Subsequently, while the desire to win was obviously still there, the spurt required to support the ball carrier and secure possession dropped off. A scrappy 10 minutes followed before, with just seconds left on the clock, the Novo’s back line combined excellently to open up space for their 15 who drew the full back and sent the 13 in to score from 40 yards. A heartbreaking end to the game that made the final score 20-15 to the home side.
Although gutted by the result the squad soon returned to good spirits after the game. Hopefully this will carry into this week’s training as they prepare for another long trip on Sunday 20/01/13, this time to Buckingham. The next home game is the week after, 27/01/13, as we welcome West Park Leeds to Gorton Street for a friendly.