Village Spartans 1st 17 V Eccles 4th 15 23/11/2013

The fourths trip to Sale proved to be a frustrating experience with victory thrown away in match they dominated to a large extent. Two incidents which top and tailed the game summed up the afternoon for in the very first minute a sweeping move saw Eccles create chance out wide but winger Danny Rice failed to hold onto a pass just inches from the line and in the very last minute a penalty shot at goal from John Cook drifted wide .In contrast to last week the forwards dominated their opponents whilst the backs suffered from too many changes with flanker Stuart Smith having fill in at stand off no doubt to cope with scrum and captain Gary Hamer’s Barnes Wallis style passes. There were debuts for Cumbrian not a Jammy Head he insists John Cook , Craig Wells and Ray Stubbs . Despite missing out on their first opportunity Eccles soon gained a lead as prop Johnny Pan found a gap a surged 30 metres through the flailing tackles to score under the posts with Stubbs adding the conversion .Another fine move saw the fourths expose the home defence and winger Chris Moncaster raced in near the corner but Eccles were pegged back the Spartans centre waltzed through from hallway shredding the visitors defence to score . Though only 12-7 ahead Eccles looked in control with home sides only realistic threat lying with two pacey backs but a nasty collision with one of his own players meant Gary Hamer leaving the field for running repairs to a bloody head wound and consequent shuffling of the team with veteran forward coming on at centre and Rice switching to scrum half. Eccles looked to be on the verge of increasing their lead as their out and out man fullback Ryan Chattington burst through a gap and was just about put on the after burners and scoot clear when pulled up in a mad hop and collapsed to the floor and the chance was gone. A survey revealed nothing suspicious on the grassy knoll it was “just” his hamstring giving up the ghost and again resulting in another round of positional changes with Hamer returning bandaged to scrum half Dore moving to fullback and Rice back on the wing.Eccles did manage a score before the interval with Stubbs slotting a penalty. Eccles merited more than a 15-7 lead at this stage and altered the line during the interval with Smith reverting to normal role of flanker with Simon Rogers taking over at fly half. The fourths continued to enjoy most of the possession but were again caught napping by one of the Spartans dynamic duo who raced through for a unconverted try. a period of sustained pressure seemed to gained the fourths due reward as the forwards battered home line and Pan plunged over through a huddle of defenders to score only for the referee to deem the ball held up leaving Eccles completely mystified though 3 minute lie down by Pan on the tryline is the doziest tantrum I have ever seen. Paul Rogers came on in the second row to finally achieve an ambition to play in the same match as his son Simon and Eccles seemed to be holding on despite the game becoming a tetchy and scrappy. The Eccles nerves were put to the test when punt ahead was fielded by Hamer in his own 22 to set up Chuckle brothers moment with Gary hemmed he passed to Steve Dore who feigned to run and promptly passed it back and somehow the ball was cleared. But proved only to be reprieve as another scrap of possession saw Spartans exploit a gap in the visitors ranks for their centre to race for what would prove to the winning try. A final surge caused the home side to infringe and with Stubbs off the field Cook was selected to kick
for goal but unfortunately redemption was not to be as the attempt drifted wide. It was clearly match which the fourths could and should have won dominating the possession and they did but not closing down the danger men cost them dear. Smithy was nominated as man of the match for his display in the dual roles of stand off and flanker and Danny Rice muffin of the match ( is there a conspiracy afoot as Danny man of the match in his first game and now has landed the dreaded muffin award three times) for his opening minute fluff.