The Ladies delivered their best performance of the season to win away in Nottingham.
Due to a mix up in kick off times Eccles arrived bright and early for the game. They obviously used the extra time to get their minds on the task at hand, so avoided their usual “slow start”. Right from the off the defence was in fearsome form with Sadie Light and Shelley Powe delivering some crunching tackles. The attack was also looking good with less of the forced passes that blighted last week’s performance. Barbara Daher and Alex Stokes were among those getting across the advantage line. On 15 minutes the Eccles pressure finally told and Sadie Light was able to smash her way through and reach out to get the ball down.
West Bridgford responded well and created a couple of breaks of their own, but Igemi Ekoku’s tackling was of its usual high quality and the chances were snubbed out. Eccles again came forward, retaining the ball through multiple phases with Katie Houghton and Siobhan Mullen leading the charge. When Alex Stokes was held up just short Karen Radband reacted the quickest to seize the ball and dart over the line from close range. Natalie Gill added the extras for a 12-0 lead.
With the forwards rampaging down the middle the home team’s defence had to condense. This gave the backs the chance they needed to exploit the space and following a quick tap from Fawn Lucas, Natalie Gill showed what she can do racing in from 20 yards. The conversion couldn’t be added but Eccles’ 17-0 lead was well deserved.
West Bridgford obviously received the rounds of the kitchen at half time as they came out in the second half with renewed purpose. Their forwards were running hard and making yards. But their backs continued to misfire due to the pressure being applied to them in defence, particularly from Fawn Lucas. However they were able to retain possession and Eccles were doing their best to give it away. After 60 minutes the pressure told and the home side were able to bludgeon their way over.
The game was tight with lots of competition at the break down and strong defence from both sides. Eccles again failed to clear their lines and after a string of penalties they conceded another try out wide to set up a grandstand finish. In the last few minutes West Bridgford gave it their all to salvage a draw but great last ditch defence from Abi Thompson and Jin Zhou kept them out. As the final whistle sounded Eccles cheers were a mixture of elation and relief at how well they’d played but how close they’d come to losing it. Still lots to work on but a massive step forward going into the mid-season break. Sadie Light was awarded Forward of the Match for her work in both attack and defence, while Fawn Lucas was named Back of the Match for her organisation and cover tackling.
The Ladies enjoy a week off from fixtures next week when they’ll be hosting a Development Day to bring new players into the game. They’ll be back in competitive action on 10/11/13 as they welcome Altrincham-Kersal to Gorton Street in the first round of the National Cup.