Vale of Lune 3XV 0 – 36 Eccles 2XV
11th November 2017
Following a run of defeats, commitment and conviction resulted in an convincing away victory for the Eccles 2s at Vale of Lune yesterday.
The early afternoon weather in Lancaster was bright and cold as the red and navy hooped shirts gathered in remembrance at Powder House Lane to observe a minute’s silence before kick off. An inconsistent line up has influenced the 2’s fortunes this season, but yesterday’s assembly of youth, experience and fresh faces was cohesive and combative from the whistle.
The match began with uncontested scrums. The opening minutes were an even contest played in the middle of the park with the opponents testing the resolve of the other. The home team had a strong pack but the defiant visitors stood up to the early pounding on the left flank and McGrath and Kilby combined to drive a right flank attack into touch. Eccles asserted themselves early on in the line out with locks Lillie and Gaffey leaping like Salmon to dominate possession. 10 mins into the game, with Eccles growing in confidence, Shaw took an intuitive pass from inside centre Swan, blitzed through the Vale line on the right, cut in field, swerved the advancing fullback, evaded the pursuing tacklers and powered through to claim the first try to the left of the sticks. Swain stepped up to slot home the conversation. The explosive Shaw and Swan combination continued to cause havoc for the remainder of the game.
Vale made a concerted effort to respond but Eccles stopped everything thrown at them, defending on their own goal line to deny an equalising try. Shortly after Fullback McGrath was unfortunate not to progress to a score with a flying break up the left wing. As Eccles looked to consolidate the territory gained, Cusick sustained a knee injury carrying the ball into contact which Janey’s magic sponge is unable to revive and he left the field. 10 minutes of graft from the forwards and some crafty passing from half-backs Stimpson and Davies, lead to Hesletine being released in the centre; the ball is shipped across to the left wing where Othick opens up and finishes in the corner for a second try. With their tails up, Eccles continue to take the game to Vale. Destructive carrying from the forwards turns the pressure into more points with Higgingbottom smashing through to score Eccles’ third try approaching half time.
Eccles begin the second half with similarly positive attitude with Swan bursting through the middle in the first few minutes, releasing McGrath, who weaves through several tackles on the left before being stopped just short of the line. With close support possession is retained and the ball moves to the right flank where Shaw crosses over for Eccles 4th Try and his second. Vale rally and enjoy a period of possession but Eccles soak it up, concede little territory and are tenacious as a team. With 10 minutes remaining, Gaffey sparks an Eccles attack on the half way line, pouncing on a loose ball and bursting through the red wall on the left flank; quick support builds forward momentum towards the Vale 22; from the resulting scrum no.8 Higgingbottom spins and bulldozers his way through the opposition to a ruck 10 metres out; Heseltine is alert to the opportunity and fires through a gap in defence to score. As the game draws to its conclusion there was still time for another S&S charge up the centre, with Shaw sent through, outpacing the defenders to chalk up his hat-trick try to the right of the posts.
An enjoyable game played in a good spirit by all with no cards issued. Great to see former colts teammates making big contributions to a big result. Hopefully a catalyst for optimism and momentum for the 2s in Division 2 North.
11 mins TRY Eccles (Shaw) converted (Swan) 0-7
26 mins TRY Eccles (Othick) converted (Swan) 0-14
36 mins TRY Eccles (Higgingbottom) converted (Swan) 0-21
43 mins TRY Eccles (Shaw) unconverted 0-26
75 mins TRY Eccles (Heseltine) unconverted 0-31
79 mins TRY Eccles (Shaw) unconverted 0-36
1. Stuart Cork
2. Dave Cusick
3. Matt Hill
4. Pete Lillie
5. Joe Gaffey
6. Pete Heseltine
7. Dan Richardson
8. Cameron Higgingbottom
9. Alun Davies (C)
10. Andy Stimson
11. Tom Othick
12. Matt Swain
13. Mike Shaw
14. Josh Kilby
15. Rory McGrath
16. Liam Constain
6 Tries: Mike Shaw 3, Tom Othick, Cameron Higgingbottom, Pete Heseltine
3 Conversions: Matt Swan