To be fair and honest, which of course suggests that normally I’m not, I could write a full report on the events leading up to just getting to St Benedicts. A bit like the Hobbit films, part 1 & 2.
Part 1 – getting there.
Players missing due to a desire to go and watch a forgone conclusion (unforgiveable), a late cry off due to work commitments (partially forgivable), the Bus breaking down before we had passed Little Hulton, requiring a quick change of Vehicle (getting to be a bad habit this one), a player travelling direct in an 8th hand motor, breaking down at Rivington (more Hobbit references, sort of), being informed of a change of ground when we were on the motorway (just a post code is no good when you don’t have a satnav). Then to top it all Dutty turned up.
On arriving at our new venue, Lowca ARLFC we knew it was really going to be one of those days. A sloping pitch into one corner, RL markings, ad-hoc 5m markings installed with spray paint, and don’t even ask about the 15 meter markings. At least the changing facilities were far superior to others we’ve been to recently.
Part 2 – first half.
With Eccles playing uphill first half the game started very much as it ended. Just like Scoobie’s little friend, it was a Scrappy Doo but with Eccles edging the play. Absorbing the home side’s pressure, Eccles were able to march up the field and a driving maul resulted in a Greg Wilson try. Eccles then fell for the sucker punch and gave away a penalty straight after the restart to reduce the lead. St B’s then kept the pressure on Eccles and recorded another penalty to take the lead. During this period Eccles were lucky to keep all 15 men on the pitch as a pull back of a shirt on a home side player could have resulted in a yellow card. The calamity of the day and location was highlighted with an Eccles player calling for a mark outside the 22, which was really a 20 metre line, and being giving it by the ref, he was clearly allowing for the missing 2 metres, only to be brought back for not playing the ball.
Eccles responded to the two penalties with intent, but with far too an open attitude. And so it was that a loose pass gave St B’s the opportunity, which they took, to run in a soft try which they converted. Eccles came back again but were unable to register any more score before half time.
Half Time Score 13 – 5 to the home team.
Part 3 – second half.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with Eccles giving their all but being unable to take control of the game and use the slope to their advantage. Eccles then gave the home team the opportunity to extend their lead with a penalty which they surprisingly missed.
With the game degenerating into a bigger mess then before, a yellow card was shown to a player from each side and Eccles continued to press. A high tackle on an Eccles player resulted in another yellow card for the home team and Eccles continued to press.
All the hard work and all the pressure exerted by Eccles was finally rewarded with a Mark Greenhalgh try to reduce the deficit to 3 points. But again very soon after the restart St B’s were awarded another kickable penalty, which this time they took. With the clock rundown going into single figures Eccles tried their all to get into the St B’s 22 (or should I say 20) and press for the try line. Alas it was to be one of those days you would want to remember to try and forget, as no matter how hard the lads tried they could not find the last winning score and time and the game ran out with the score standing at 16 – 10 to the home side.
Part 4 – Getting Home.
After the game it was a quick drink upstairs in the Lowca bar then onto the bus to visit St B’s clubhouse, enjoy more libations, a bite to eat, the social formalities, a raffle which we couldn’t even cheat in to win, then back on the bus to make a stop off in Penrith. Now the Griffalow knows the one way system of Penrith like the back of his coffee machines, however he hadn’t counted on dealing with closed streets due to a Christmas Market. After taking the bus into a dead end and saying to the driver see you in 90 minutes it was off into the local hostelries. More libations, a few songs in the pub, just like the good old days, then back on the bus for the journey home.
A good day out, shame about the game, but as Eric Idle says, always look on the bright side of life. That bonus point may make all the difference in April.