Eccles 2XV 3 – 17 Southport 2XV
Saturday 6th January 2017
09 mins PENALTY Eccles (missed) 0-0
19 mins PENALTY Eccles (A.Davies) 3-0
28 mins YELLOW CARD Southport
44 mins TRY Southport (converted) 3-7
68 mins YELLOW CARD Eccles (N. Morrissey)
72 mins TRY Southport (unconverted) 3-12
79 mins TRY Southport (unconverted) 3-17
The full time score doesn’t tell the full story of the fixture. This was a game of two halves, in which Eccles struggled to sustain their strong start.
Southport kicked off in bright, breezy conditions. The ball bounced out on the far touchline, Eccles retained possession from the line-out and moved play across and upfield, into Southport right-flank territory, where it remained for long periods of the first half. Although the Eccles line-out and passing was inconsistent, squandering possession in good areas, Eccles did succeed in maintaining pressure on the visitors, keeping the ball on the fringe of their 22. A resulting penalty kick for Eccles was unfortunately missed with the ball dipping under the cross bar. The wind continued to effect kicking accuracy and the cold played its part with fumbles and knock-ons being a feature for both teams throughout. 10 minutes later Eccles eventually turned their pressure into points with Captain Alun Davies broke the deadlock, slotting home a penalty awarded in front of the sticks. Sadly this promising start was to be the end of the home team’s tally. Although the Eccles 2s continued to command the first half, they never really came closer to threatening the opposition Try line. The rare Southport advancements into Eccles territory were determinedly defended with good tackling and jackaling. In one such foray, Joe Gaffey’s rapid exit with the loose ball from a ruck was stopped by the Southport props’s high tackle and the visitors were down a man for the remainder of the half, which concluded with Eccles, unable to capitalise on their opportunities, ahead HT 3-0.
The sun faded away and so did the Eccles ascendancy. The visitors began the second half with more determination and purpose than the hosts. An immediate Southport attack from the restart put the Eccles defence in disarray. It was a matter of minutes before the Southport no.8 powered through to score the first try of the game to the right of the posts. The 3-7 score remained static for 20 minutes. The game was played mostly in the middle of the pitch with Eccles, regaining composure, but failing to make any significant attacks into the opposition territory. Momentum shifted to Southport with 12 minutes left when Eccles prop Nick Morrisey was sent to the sidelines for ‘coming in at the side’. Southport took quick and full advantage of the extra man and within few minutes, from a scrum on the right, they stretched the Eccles defence, moving the ball across the pitch for their winger to hit the space and score a try, unopposed, in the left corner 3-12. There was time for Eccles to regain equal numbers but not any influence over the result. Minutes later a very similar move resulted in a late Southport try, scored by their no.18, again in the left corner. The referee brought the game to an end shortly after the restart. FT 3-17.
Although the Eccles pack were tireless and strong in the scrum, dominating it throughout, regularly driving their opponents off (apart from when it was briefly uncontested), the Eccles backs didn’t really get the opportunity to use their speed, with the ball rarely making it beyond the centres. A lot of effort was expended but a bit more collective urgency, alertness and aggression earlier in the match may have delivered a different result in what was a close, competitive contest until Eccles ran out of steam and perhaps conviction. Southport earned themselves a win with the stronger second half performance. A disappointing home defeat for the 2s, but good to see two crucial replacements on the touchline, and no injuries.
1. Stuart Cork
2. Will Rowlands
3. Nick Morrisey (Y)
4. Dec O Regan
5. Joe Gaffey
7. Dan Richardson
8. Stew Poole
9. Alun Davies (C)
10. Andy Stimson
11. Rory McGrath
12. Gavin Ackers Johnson
13. Zac Donlan
14. Ben Hogan
15. Lee Murphy
16. Dave Cusick
17. Antony Dutta
1 Penalty: Alun Davies