In a painfully similar story to their last visit, Eccles were left to rue missed opportunities in the first half as they crumbled in the second.
The game started at a frantic pace with both teams running hard and breaking tackles. Whitehaven broke the advantage line a couple of times but some great turnovers, particularly from Andrew Frost, thwarted their advances. It was then Eccles turn to go forward, and they applied pressure to the Cumbrian’s line. The opportunity to go for posts was spurned in favour of going for the corner, but a mistake from the line-out wasted the chance.
The game swung back the other way and it was Whitehaven that came forward. After initially making yards up the middle they were now shipping the ball wide, where Eccles were penalised for a late tackle. The kick opened the scoring, 3-0. A few minutes later that same side of the field caused Eccles problems again and this time ‘haven were in for an unconverted try and an 8-0 lead. Eccles needed to respond and they did with their best period of the game. The forwards combined well to keep the ball through multiple phases which sucked in the defenders, so when it was shipped out wide Will Parkinson found himself in acres of space and sped in for a try. Danny Holland landed the conversion and the deficit was cut to one point. On the stroke of half time further indiscipline from Eccles presented the home team with another penalty which they landed to make the half-time score 11-7.
With the sun on their backs and the occasional gust of wind now favouring them Eccles were feeling confident going in to the second half. But right from the get go their play seemed rudderless with too many passes going to ground and the ball being kicked away in attacking situations. Whitehaven were looking more threatening and 10 minutes in exploited space in between the centres to race in out wide. A few minutes later Eccles missed four or five tackles as the ball came across the field allowing a try close to the posts that was converted. By the time 60 minutes came up on the clock the home side were running in their fourth try, this time going around the outside, to extend their lead to 28-7.
In the final quarter Eccles worked hard to try and salvage something from the game, but for all their efforts the direction simply wasn’t there; the forwards meandered left and right while the backs looked static and nervous. Joe Dale ran hard and went close to scoring but Eccles couldn’t get the ball across the line. In the 78th minute the referee did it for them, awarding a penalty try after a 5m scrum was broken up as it went forward. Danny Holland added the extras. But there was no last minute drama to salvage anything more, so the score finished 28-14.
Difficult to pinpoint what went wrong with so many mistakes being made right across the team. Lots to work on in training and Eccles will hope that the return of some long term absentees next week will lift them as they welcome Upper Eden to Gorton Street on 12/10/13.