Another Saturday and another long trip up to the West Coast of Cumbria, known by some as the grave yard. With a three hour journey ahead of us an early departure call was made by the management. Trouble is some of the management are not on message, as they say, or is it they just can’t read a text. Anyway, Thorpey decided he was exempt from mere details and chose to turn up late blaming everyone under the sun, including the wood delivery man, who has one of them these days, or any day?
The uncontested highlight of the journey up came just before Tebay as we passed another coach carrying the Bolton team on their way to Whitehaven. As it turned out it wouldn’t be the only time that day that Bolton would be overtaken by Eccles.
With rearranged backs and “new” red shirts Eccles took the field with a slight breeze in their favour. Despite the advantage of the elements Eccles chose to spend the next 40 minutes playing some of the worst rugby of the season. They were awful, and that’s putting it politely. The game plan, if there was one, was a mess, the lineout was a shambles, the only saving grace being the defence was as solid as ever with the home side spending very little time in the Eccles 22.
Despite all this Eccles did manage to put themselves on the board with a Freddy Oakey try, breaking free from the halfway line and running in unopposed. Danny Holland converted. The score would have been increased with another Eccles try if a Workington player had not been pulled back during the build-up.
At half time, and standing at a safe distance we could see there was plenty of rantings going on as to why things weren’t as they should be. It’s just as well no one had brought out cups of tea or an electrical extension for a hairdryer.
Anyway, whatever was said at halftime had clearly worked. From the very restart the Eccles team were a totally different team from the one that had turned up for the first half. Playing the usual mix of driving play and ball movement when necessary the Eccles team were soon bearing down on the home side’s try line resulting in Joe Dale touching down to extend the Eccles lead and settle a few nerves.
With the possibility of relegation staring them in the face Workington came back strong and were rewarded with a penalty goal and in so doing putting the pressure back onto Eccles. However the Eccles response was almost immediate as they themselves took the game back to Workington and started to apply the pressure. The Eccles endeavour was rewarded with a bit of fortune as a loose pass falling just short of a hand was fly kicked by Luke Cullen and quickness of mind, not something we associate from the young lad, saw him follow up the kick and cease onto the loose ball to score.
This put Eccles back into top gear and a series of good handling movements by all resulted in Will Parkinson being put free through a narrow gap on the wing. With only one man left to beat a “wee shilly shally” accompanied by a stiff hand off saw the lad go over in the corner and run round to the posts to allow the Dutchman the easiest of conversions.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, a 21 point lead, and the bonus point in the bag all decided it was job done and time to clock off, have a shower and get back on the coach. Trouble is Workington, who really were fighting for their lives hadn’t read this script and yet again came back at Eccles to score a try of their own. Behind the posts more harsh words were spoken with people being dragged back off the coach and told to start playing again.
Reluctantly they all did as told and started to get back onto the front foot looking for more points. With a few minutes left on the clock a scoring opportunity went astray as one of the young wingers, clearly suffering from giddiness following his previous effort, chose to dummy and go himself. His effort took him close to the line, but as we all know close is not good enough.
With the pressure still firmly placed upon the home side Eccles fifth and last try came in the final minute of the game with the ball being moved wide again allowing Recce James, who apparently has been spending all season watching grass grow just so he can go and cut it, the opportunity to fall over the line and score.
Final score 8 – 29 in Eccles favour.
With results of other games coming in all knew that this meant Eccles were now top of the league with only three games left to play.
The journey home was very quiet with nothing happening at all on the bus, until of course when we got back to the club and then the place rocked.