Sedgely Park 4th 18 v Eccles 3rd 25 08/12 /2012

The thirds travelled up the M60 for what is always a closely fought encounter and this one was no exception as Eccles dominated the first half and Park came roaring back in the second with the visitors hanging on to claim the victory. Eccles caught Park on the hop with their aggressive forward play ,solid defence and cutting thrust in attack right from the kick off (okay after Dave Bates knock on) .Dominating territorially Eccles turned this pressure into an early try as great hands and backing up saw play into the Sedgley 22 where scrum half Matthew Twigg spotted a blind side gap to plunge over. He soon added a second as great interpassing down the left flank create a chance for him to go over in the corner. A yellow card to one of the Park forwards compounded their misery   and Eccles made them pay when a Sedgley move broke down and the ball was booted downfield and Nick Hageman was quickest to react hareing  off in pursuit to toughdown . After all the conversions had gone astray it was a relief to see Sam Thompson slot over a penalty to leave the thirds a deserved 18-0 .Obviously stunned Park were in no mood to take matters lying down and pressed the visitors line but Eccles again turned the tables breaking up a Sedgely attack and kicking upfield which caught the home defence in a muddle allowing the bal to be regathered and fed to winger Richard Holland who raced under the posts to score and Thompson converted . A strong position but not impregnable as the match seesawed for then next fifteen minutes  with both sides having chances but it was Sedgley who grabbed their opportunities to score two tries neither converted the second a rushed one right under the posts. Spurred on the home side tore into attack but found the Eccles defence in resolute mood snuffing out any half breaks and covering from one side of the field to the other determinded to not succumb to this onslaught. An already tetchy match became even tetchier as the home sides attacking ambitions where thwarted not only by the Eccles defence but by the penalties they conceded but as just in the first half what they perceived as in justice was in reality an over abundance of infringements.A  converted penalty kick gave Park a glimmer oh hope as the Eccles defenders became a bit weary thought no less steadfast ih their efforts to hang to the win.  In the gathering gloom the match became increasing fraught and Eccles had couple of narrow escapes as kicks ahead were dealt with  difificulty and cleared with only inches to spare. The defensive cause was hampered by a succession of penalties for incorrect binding in the front row prompting skipper Dave Bates to engage in a prolonged debate with the sole arbiter of fact  in defence of the miscreant prop tovarich Barlow.Sedgley eventually managed to break the Eccles line scoring in the corner but with only one play left from the restart the thirds safely held on to bag winning points which sees them lie second in the league table.As ever a hard fought game and the result just as unpredictable but on balance and for a superb first half were the better side.What cannot be doubted was the work rate and defensive effort of all the squad who showed a ready willingness to be expansive when in possession. The scrums held up well and the line outs worked extremely efficiently and it was pleasing to see the forward drives make ground with players eager to come in support.  John Cook at second row showed up well on his debut  and also with storming breaks prop Richard Owen who might gone all the way but for a  lack  of superglue on his mitts. Flanker Kris Whitehead as ever was never far from the the action taking a few bumps and bruises and being ablely supported by the rest of the pack. Skipper Dave Bates led from the front always being in the right place at the right time (it must be true he told me so himself !! )Centre John Farrell was the pick of the attacking options running great line and angles greating a number of breaks with stand off Sam Thompson keeping things ticking and relieving pressure with well timed kicks.Twigg took his two tries with great syle and Hageman and fullback Brendan Cullen showed a neat turn of foot.  So all in all it was a good day at the office though it was hard graft the team spirit endured to the final whistle with safisfaction of merited victory.