MATCH REPORTS NCL 2012 DIVISION 1

Saturday 3rd November 2012

RL Challenge Cup Qualifying Round 2

 

MILLOM 40-12 ECCLES

 

Eccles were forced to make a further 6 changes from the side that won at Bristol, due to injuries and work commitments and that resulted in them making the long journey to Cumbria with the last remaining 16 fit players in the club, many of them playing out of position. It was not surprising that they exited the Challenge cup at the second stage and to be fair, considering the number of absentees, it was a very good effort from the Salford side. They came from 16 points down at half time to get with 8 points of their hosts but finally faded in the last third of the game. At the end of the game most of the players were just glad to see the end of a long hard season!

 

It took 12 minutes for the home side to open the scoring When Jamie Sandham broke down the wing before passing inside for Ricky Donaghue to go round the posts, leaving Ross Brookes with an easy conversion (0-6), and Brookes doubled the advantage on 20 minutes with a try and conversion after man of the match Tom Sibley off loaded out of the tackle (0-12). 4 minutes later Eccles conceded a goal line drop with Christian Higgins booting the ball to safety, but Eccles resolve was broken again 3 minutes from the break when Anthony Green forced a try 12 metres from the corner where Brookes found the angle too tight to convert (0-16).

 

Eccles, having faced a strong wind and driving rain in the first half were hoping to use the elements in their favour for the second half but amazingly, as they re-emerged from the dressing room the weather had calmed. Even so, Eccles started brightly and just 4 minutes into the second period Richard Openshaw shot through a gap to record Eccles’ first try and Adam Taher converted (6-16). Openshaw went from hero to villain on 47 minutes when he received a yellow card for disputing a dubious refereeing decision and Millom took advantage within a minute with Green crashing over again in the corner where Brookes failed with the conversion (6-20).

 

Millom almost made the extra man count again on 52 minutes but 17 year old stand off  Eze Harper came to Eccles rescue, kicking the ball to safety and thus conceding another drop out, yet it was Eccles who scored next whilst still a man down with Taher running hard onto a short pass to burst the defence wide out. Taher also added the conversion (12-20) but Eccles had given everything they had by then and Millom ran away with game in the last 20 minutes. On the hour John Banham was quickest to a kick to the in goal and Brookes converted (12-26) then, on 65 minutes Green went over in the corner for his hat trick of tries with Brookes missing this time (12-30).

 

Brookes also went on to complete a hat trick of tries scoring 5 metres from the post on 70 minutes and adding the conversion (12-36) then completing the scoring on 75 minutes with a try half way between the posts and corner. He was unlucky to see his kick come back off a post though (12-40).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Mike McGrath, Simon Brown, Martin Judge, Christian Higgins, Eze Harper, Bradley Lonsdale, Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw (1T), Adam Taher (1T, 2G), Chad Grant (MoM), Alan Wands, Chris Smith, Danny Kelly, Paul Viller, Mark Moore.

Mark Moore.

Saturday 27th October 2012

RL Challenge Cup Qualifying Round 1

 

BRISTOL SONICS 24-36 ECCLES

 

Eccles made the long trip to the West Country and successfully negotiated a tricky first round qualifying tie in the Challenge Cup, but they were given a real tough test by the Bristol side. To be fair to Eccles they were far from full strength, but had enough fire power to progress to the next round. Bristol actually played the better rugby with ball in hand in the first half, and with more possession they might have scored more points, but a penalty count of 2-8 against them and sterling defence from Eccles kept them at bay. On the other hand Eccles took their chances better than the home side and ran up a lead that was big enough to hang on to despite being out-scored in the second half by 2 points. Richard Openshaw topped the tackle count for Eccles and was adjudged man of the match, just, ahead of Mark Thomas.

 

Eccles took just 4 minutes to open the scoring with Steve Barry sending a long pass to the wing for Christian Higginsto make progress before passing inside for Ben Williamson to score wide out. The angle was too tight for Andrew Muscat to convert (4-0) but The Bristol kicker – Don Swann had more success 4 minutes later, converting the first of his 4 goal from 4 attempts to give Bristol the lead after Marcus Brooker had forced a try (4-6).

 

Bristol were fancying an upset when they extended the lead on 16 minutes, getting the ball out in the tackle for Josh Duran to score (4-12) only to be left reeling by Eccles scoring 3 tries, all converted by Muscat, in a 6 minute spell starting in the 20th minute.  First, a short pass from Barry saw Mike O’Boyle burst through and go round the posts (10-12) then Barry and Openshaw contrived to send Thomas over, handing off a defender on the way (16-12) beforeOpenshaw sent Adam Taher crashing over after a strong run by Thomas(22-12).

 

Eccles gave themselves some breathing space on 34 minutes with Marc Jones and O’Boyle combining to sendHiggins over in the corner for an unconverted try (26-12) and the tie was just about settled 9 minutes into the second half when Thomas was stopped just short and “quick hands” through Openshaw, Barry and Muscat saw Williamsonrace in for another unconverted try (30-12).

 

To their credit, Bristol never lost heart and Marcus Brooker was rewarded on 63 minutes, picking up a dropped pass by Eccles to race 80 metres between the sticks (30-18), but hopes of a come-back were dashed 5 minutes later whenThomas again wreaked havoc in the home defence before Openshaw scooted over the line from dummy half for a try that Muscat converted (36-18). The last say went to the home team however, on 74 minutes, with speedy winger Duran racing in from the half way mark for his second try (36-24).

 

 

Eccles Team:  Andrew Muscat (4G), Mike McGrath, Ben Williamson (2T), Martin Judge, Christian Higgins (1T), Steve Barry, Will Rigby, Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw (1T, MoM), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Alan Wands, Mark Thomas (1T), Eze Harper, Bradley Lonsdale, Mark Moore, Adam Taher (1T)

Saturday 20th October 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 26-42 BRADFORD DUDLEY HILL

 

With nothing left to play for but pride in this last league game of the season Eccles made 5 changes from the previous week, and included only 7 first team regulars for the game against championship chasing Dudley Hill. Before the game, all the signs were that Eccles could be heading for a record home defeat, but although the Bradford outfit did go on to record a big win, Eccles made it a lot less comfortable than scoreline suggests.

The first score came on 9 minutes when Eccles’ defence was sucked into the middle and the ball was moved quickly wide where Jamie Steward scored, albeit too far out for Neil Wall to convert (0-4), but Wall did manage his first conversion after Steve Lamond burst over for a try 12 metres from the post on 15 minutes (0-10), then, 2 minutes later, Adam Jefferson made a break that Sam Broadley took further before Lamond scored his second try in the corner. Wall found the angle too tight again (0-14).

 

On 23 minutes Steward also scored his second try, stretching out of a tackle to score in the corner and this time Wall converted brilliantly (0-20). The thrashing that everybody was expecting now looked on the cards but Eccles had other ideas and opened their account on 25 minutes. A Martin Judge tackle just inside the Eccles half dislodged the ball andMike McGrath picked it up and raced 60 metres to score wide out and Andrew Muscat added a great conversion (6-20). Unfortunately Hill retained the ball from the re-start and 4 minutes later Dale Lee forced the ball down close to the posts, leaving Wall an easy conversion (6-26), but again Eccles responded with an unconverted try on 32 minutes. A good pass from Ben Williamson saw Muscat squeeze through a gap and go over in the corner where he was unlucky not to improve on his try (10-26).

 

4 minutes into the second half the impressive Christian Higgins was held just short of the line and Adam Taher burst through a couple of tackles to score half way between the posts and corner. Muscat’s conversion reduced the arrears to just 10 points (16-26) only for the visitors to hit back with 2 tries, the first converted by Wall from Adam Jefferson on 50 minutes (16-32) and Lewis Evans on 59 minutes (16-36).

 

Williamson again provided a great pass to send Muscatround the posts for a try that he also converted (22-36) andMuscat was only denied his hat trick on a harsh intervention by a touch judge on 71 minutes when the referee looked set to award the try. To add insult to injury Jefferson immediately broke the line for the Yorkshire club and sent Nathan Kitson racing between the sticks to score their final try with Wall adding the conversion (22-42). Eccles continued to attack though with man of the match Marc Jones leading the way, and on 77 minutes they forced a goal line drop out withMuscat applying pressure to a high kick to the in goal from Richard Openshaw. A minute from time they finally got the reward their enterprise deserved with the final try of the game. Williamson sent a short kick across the half way like to the wing where Eze Harper showed great pace to catch the ball just before it went dead and beat the winger to race 50 metres and score wide out. Muscatwas again very unlucky with his shot at goal (26-42).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (2T, 3G), Mike McGrath (1T), Martin Judge, Mike O’Boyle, Christian Higgins, Ben Williamson, Will Rigby, Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones (MoM), Chad Grant, Alan Wands, Chris Smith, Danny Kelly, Eze Harper (1T), Adam Taher (1T), Mark Moore.

Saturday 13th October 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 10-38 HUNSLET WARRIORS

 

Hunslet Warriors came to Eccles looking for a victory to keep them in the hunt for a promotion spot and they went back toLeeds with both points after a great display of power and speed with stand off Richard Wheelhouse in devastating form. By contrast, Eccles have nothing to play for but pride now and are already certain to finish in the 9th place that they currently occupy. There was plenty of effort from the home side, particularly home man of the match Steve Barry but on the day Hunslet just needed victory more than Eccles did.

Eccles actually opened the scoring on 8 minutes when a long pass from Barry found Carl Mort who sent Christian Higgins racing over in the corner, although too far out for Andrew Muscat to convert (4-0), but Hunslet took the lead 6 minutes later Mark Cunningham broke the line and went 85 metres to score next to the sticks, leaving Gary McCelland an easy conversion (4-6).

The Warriors increased their advantage on 26 minutes when Cunningham slipped the ball out of a 2 man tackle to send Lee West over in the corner where McCelland failed to add the extras (4-10), but Eccles leveled again inside 2 minutes.Higgins managed to release the ball out of a tackle and Muscatwas on hand to take the pass, beat the full back and go in from just over half way. He also added the conversion (10-10), but that was to be Eccles’ last score.

On 34 minutes McCelland broke from half way and drew Muscat to him before sending Cunningham over for his second try, which McCelland converted (10-16) and two minutes from the break McCelland converted his own try after Wheelhouse broke across the half way line and kicked ahead for him to touch down (10-22).

The game was over for Eccles 6 minutes into the re-start when Luke Raynor finished off another 40 metre break and McCelland converted off the far post (10-28), but Eccles did make a better defensive effort in the second half, even surviving the 56th minute sin binning of Adam Taher, after a high tackle, although they did concede again in the last 10 minutes with Jack Corney going in the corner on 70 minutes (10-32) then Raynor scoring his second on 76 minutes, McCelland converting the last try (10-38).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T, 1G), Ben Williamson, Payden Candland, Carl Mort, Christian Higgins (1T), Steve Barry (MoM), Will Rigby, Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Bradley Lonsdale, Chris Smith, Adam Taher, Mike Foster, Chad Grant, Alan Wands.

Saturday 29th September 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 32-34 STANLEY RANGERS

 

Stanley Rangers need to win their last 4 matches to have any chance of avoiding relegation this season and after a good victory against promotion chasing Egremont Rangers last week they pulled off a victory against an Eccles side that have nothing left to play for but pride, yet Eccles squandered several chances to win the game.

 

Captain Chris Smith was added to the missing list on a family holiday as was winger Mike McGrath but the club welcomed back Martin Judge who has been working away most of the season, along with Mike O’Boyle and Carl Mort, both coming back from injuries.

 

Rangers opened the scoring with their first attack of the game on 2 minutes with Shaun Abson going over the line close to the sticks, leaving Danny Grice an easy conversion (0-6) and 2 minutes later Joel Marsh broke from half way to score in the corner, but this time Grice missed the kick (0-10).  The game was only 10 minutes old when the Yorkshire side took a 14-0 lead with an unconverted try from Oliver Wood, but this forced Eccles into action and on 14 minutes Richard Openshaw sent Christian Higgins away to touch down just inside the corner flag, too far out for Andrew Muscat to convert (4-14). Openshaw scooted over the line from dummy half to score the next try himself, just 4 minutes later, and this time Muscat converted (10-14).

 

On 22 minutes Rangers had Kyle Sampson sin binned for persistent offending and Eccles immediately responded, forcing a goal line drop out with Will Rigby chasing Steve Barry’s low kick to the in goal, forcing full back James Senkiw to kick the ball dead. Obviously Stanley had not read the script though, because instead of Eccles taking advantage of the extra man the visitors came up with 2 tries of their own! Both were long range efforts with Paul Hughes breaking away to score a try that Grice converted on 25 minutes (10-20) and then Rangers’ man of the match Senkiw scored an unconverted try on the half hour (10-24). Eccles gave themselves a lifeline 3 minutes from the half time break however with Adam Taher bursting through the defence next to the posts, allowing Muscatto convert (16-24).

 

Eccles started the second half brightly but on 54 minutes Rangers forced Eccles into a goal line drop out when Payden Candland won a race to catch a kick to the in goal and boot the ball dead, although 3 minutes later Scott Childs broke through the line to score a try against the run of play, that Grice converted (16-30).

 

On the hour Liam Crawley scored the visitors final points of the day with an unconverted try (16-34), but the last quarter of the game saw Eccles take control and almost pull off an unlikely looking come back which left Stanley breathing a huge sigh of relief at the end. On 62 minutes Mitchell Krog, playing his last game before returning to Australia, ran powerfully to burst through two defenders and score half way between the posts and corner flag. Muscat converted (22-34) and he also added the conversion 5 minutes after that when Mike O’Boyle stretched out of a tackle to further reduce the arrears (28-34).

 

Eccles threw everything into attack, sensing that they could still get something out of the game, and on 73 minutesBradley Lonsdale received a pass in an area where there seemed to be no danger to the visitors but his looping run ended with him squeezing over the line in the corner. Change kicker Taher attempted to draw the game level with the touchline kick but was unlucky with his attempt and although Eccles pushed hard to steal the points the Rangers defence held from for the remaining 7 minutes, and with 2 easy looking fixtures left to play the Wakefield side may yet avoid the drop that has been looming all season.

 

Andrew Muscat (4G), Christian Higgins (1T), Payden Candland, Mitchell Krog (1T), Martin Judge, Steve Barry, Will Rigby, Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw (1T), Chad Grant, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Alan Wands, Bradley Lonsdale (1T), Marc Jones, Mark Thomas, Carl Mort, Adam Taher (1T, MoM).

Saturday 15th September 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

OLDHAM ST. ANNES 22-46 ECCLES

 

This victory over struggling Oldham St. Annes ensured that Eccles are safe from relegation and will finish no lower than the 9th place they currently occupy and yet, with Mike O’Boyle, Marc Jones, Mark Thomas, Simon Brown and Carl Mort added to an already lengthy absentee list it was a game where they could have slipped up.  

 

Mark Moore was handed a first team debut, John McAtee was brought out of retirement and Will Rigby played well after being drafted in from the second team for the first time this season.   Despite the number of players out of action Eccles still had too much fire power in their arsenal for the home side to deal with. With only 2 league victories all season the Oldham side are certain to be relegated after this defeat. 

 

It took just 4 minutes for Eccles to open the scoring when Chad Grant was stopped on the try line and man of the matchRichard Openshaw scooted over next to the post making the conversion for Andrew Muscat a formality (6-0), but Saints hit back in the 8th minute when a long pass from Richard Badby saw David Harris stretch out of Christian Higgins’ tackle to score in the corner. Eccles remained in front when Jordan Galloway missed the kick (6-4), and doubled their score just 3 minutes later. Openshaw made a great break down the middle of the park before handing on for Rigby, who had supported him all the way, to go between the sticks. Muscat added the second of his 7 conversions from 8 attempts (12-4).

 

The home side forced a goal line drop out on 16 minutes when Rigby was called into on to kick the ball to safety but it was Eccles who scored next on 24 minutes when Rigby provided a pass for Payden Candland to beat 2 defenders and score a converted try 12 metres from the posts (18-4). Saints were not ready to give in though and in the 33rd minute Chris Carter forced a try next to the posts that Galloway converted (18-10), and they also forced a second drop out just before the half time whistle with Mike McGrath knocking the ball dead under pressure.

 

It was Eccles who came out firing for the second half though and within 10 minutes they had more or less made sure of the points. On 45 minutes Adam Taher left 4 defenders scattered on the pitch as he charged over the line in the corner, and Muscat proved that he could convert the difficult kicks as well as the easy ones (24-10), then, 5 minutes laterOpenshaw sent Mitchell Krog crashing over between 2 defenders 12 metres from the corner for another converted try (30-10).

 

St. Annes reduced the arrears on 58 minutes with Galloway diving over the line 10 metres from the post and also adding the conversion (30-16) but any hopes of a comeback were ended 4 minutes later when Muscat was held up close to the line and from dummy half McAtee forced the ball down 10 metres from the corner. Muscat recorded his only miss of the afternoon (34-16), but he did add 2 more conversion as Openshaw completed his hat trick with 2 tries in 2 minutes. The first came on 70 minutes when Krog off loaded out of the tackle for him to dive over 5 metres from the post (40-16) and then he scampered between the sticks from a play the ball after Higgins was hauled down 8 metres short (46-16).

 

To their credit the Saints never gave up and they had the final say 2 minutes from time with Chris Richards forcing a try that Galloway converted, but it was too little too late for the home side (46-22).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (7G), Mike McGrath, Payden Candland (1T), Mitchell Krog (1T), Christian Higgins, Steve Barry, Will Rigby (1T), Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw (3T, MoM), Chad Grant, Alan Wands, Bradley Lonsdale, Chris Smith, John McAtee (1T), Ben Williamson, Adam Taher (1T), Mark Moore.

Saturday 8th September 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 16-4 MILLOM

 

Eccles made it 7 wins in 8 meetings with Cumbrian outfit – Millom after a hard fought game which, perhaps, on the balance of play, they should have won much more comprehensively. Neither side can be promoted now, and both are virtually assured of avoiding relegation, meaning the only thing left to play for was pride. To be fair to Eccles, they have at least 8 first choice players missing through injuries, holidays and work commitments and the first team have used 37 different players so far this season. They did well to limit the visitors to a single try with Marc Jones contributing 33 tackles to a great defensive effort. Unfortunately the game was littered with unforced errors and wrong options from both sides. The tremendous heat the game was played in did not help matters either.

 

Eccles opened the scoring on 14 minutes when Mike Foster was stopped close to the line and from dummy halfRichard Openshaw feigned to pass and shot through a gap to score 10 metres from the posts. With no recognized goal kicker on the park Mitchell Krog volunteered to take the conversion but failed to get enough height on the shot (4-0). Adam Taher though, on as a substitute, did manage to convert the next try which came on 27 minutes when man of the match Chad Grant burst through 2 weak tackles from 30 metres out to score next to the post (10-0).

Millom had not offered much in attack up to this point but they did trouble the scoreboard within 4 minutes of Grants try with Ricky Donaghue scoring in the corner. The same player found the angle too tight to convert (10-4), but the Barrow side finished the half strongly and forced a goal line drop out when Christian Higgins was tackled in goal.

 

Good defence and poor attacking options contributed to a lack of points in the second half but when Grant was sin binned just before the hour for disputing the referees decision that he knocked on Millom sensed a come back and launched an all out attack. At one point Eccles defended 4 successive sets of 6 on their own line, including a try saving tackle by Payden Candland on Ross Brookes over the try line.

 

Millom were frustrated time and again by a sterling Eccles rearguard action and when Grant re-entered the field refreshed on 69 minutes he off loaded out of the tackle for Bradley Lonsdale to scamper between the sticks for the points clinching try. Steve Barry stepped up to convert the try (16-4) and that was game over for Millom. To their credit both teams continued to give 100% in the last 10 minutes but the score board was not troubled again.

 

Team:  Bradley Lonsdale (1T), Mike McGrath, Payden Candland, Mitchell Krog, Christian Higgins, Chad Grant (1T, MoM), Steve Barry (1G), Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw (1T), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Carl Mort, Chris Smith, Simon Brown, Chris Irwin, Adam Taher (1G), Alan Wands.

Saturday 1st September 2012

National Conference Divsion 1

 

MILFORD MARLINS 52-18 ECCLES

 

Milford kept alive their slim promotion hopes with an emphatic victory over a very depleted Eccles side, and yet Eccles had as much of the possession as the home side did, but the difference was that the Leeds outfit were solid in defence and broke well to take all of their chances. The fact that Eccles highest tackler was Mike O’Boyle with just 19 proved that Eccles matched their opponents in all but points on the board. Eccles already “paper thin” squad was further stretched with Paul Morgan suffering a broken foot and 3 players – Steve Barry, Andrew Muscat and Ben Williamson away on holiday. There was no lack of effort from the visitors but they struggled with several players playing out of position.

 

The Leeds outfit opened the scoring on 6 minutes. Christian Higgins was called on to kick the ball dead, conceding a goal line drop out and 4 tackles later James Barker shot through a gap to score 15 metres from the post. Martin Loveridge missed an easy looking conversion (0-4), although he did go on to convert the next 8 tries, although there was some controversy as to the validity of his next attempt!

 

Eccles took the lead on 12 minutes when Richard Openshaw fed man of the match Carl Mort who “shrugged off” 2 attempted tacklers to score a try that Mitchell Krog converted 6-4, yet this only inspired the home side to a greater effort and they scored the first of 3 converted tries in 6 minutes in the 16th minute. Sam wood broke down the wing to score in the corner (6-10) then good back up play over 80 metres saw Adam Fairhead finish off a a break (6-16) before Barker off loaded out of a tackle for Josh Parle to send Ryan Oxtoby racing between the sticks (6-22).

With 20 minutes gone a “good hiding” was looking likely but Eccles upped the defensive effort and it looked like there would be no further additions to the score until, with seconds remaining of the first half Loveridge wrong footed the defence to stroll between the posts (6-28).

 

Eccles are not a side for “throwing in the towel” and they came out for the second period believing they could still turn it round, throwing everything into attack. They were rewarded on 46 minutes when Bradley Lonsdale was stopped just short after a great break from Chad Grant and Adam Taher handed off a defender to score a try that he also added the conversion to (12-28), then, on 53 minutes, the unlikely comeback looked a possibility. Taher again attacked strongly before Openshaw squeezed through a gap 25 metres out and handed off the full back to score a try that Taherconverted (18-28).

 

There was a feeling around the ground that the next team to score would win it now and unfortunately that score went to Milford, with more than an element of luck, just before the hour. Lonsdale attempted to boot a chip through from Parle to safety but the ball spun off the side of his boot straight into the arms of Luke Reeves for an easy try (18-34).

Milford made sure of the points on 69 minutes with Fairhead finishing off a break from the half way line (18-40), then 2 converted tries in the last 4 minutes from Marc Gibson (18-46) and Oxtoby (18-52) made the winning margin look much more comfortable than it actually was.

 

Team: Bradley Lonsdale, Mike McGrath, Payden Candland, Mitchell Krog (1G), Christian Higgins, Chris Smith, Daniel Derbyshire, Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw (1T), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Carl Mort (1T, MoM), Chad Grant, Simon Brown, Mike Foster, Adam Taher (1T, 2G), Daniel Kelly.

Saturday 18th August 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 36-24 YORK ACORN

 

Eccles all but ensured their first division survival after grinding out a third successive, and unlikely looking victory over promotion chasing York Acorn. The Eccles squad are now down to “bare bones” as injuries and other commitments bite deep into the playing register, but Eccles have always been a “backs to the wall” club and this was evident once again after an enthralling game against tough opposition. Eccles will be thankful that the referee played 5 minutes injury time at the end of each half and they scored 6 points in each of those periods with 12 points being the eventual winning margin.

 

Despite all the injuries it was a player returning from injury that led the way, although he too – Paul Morgan, will now miss the rest of the season. It was he who put in a high kick on 5 minutes which was taken by full back Leigh Rentoul who dropped the ball after a ferocious tackle from Payden Candland and Morgan picked the ball up and dived over 5 metres from the post, leaving Andrew Muscat an easy conversion (6-0). 3 minutes later Eccles forced a goal line drop out when Morgan followed up his own kick and along with Bradley Lonsdale made a tackle in goal, although it was Acorn who troubled the scoreboard next on 11 minutes. A quick play the ball caught Eccles “napping” and Nick Speck scored in the corner. Anthony Chilton found the angle too tight to convert (6-4), and Eccles were thankful that the kicker had an off day, converting only twice from 5 attempts.

 

Muscat’s kick off from the re-start was dropped behind the line giving Eccles possession again via a drop out, but Acorn were in top form now and in the 16th minute a slick passing move across the field ended with Joe Burns sending Joel Johnson over in the corner for a unconverted try (6-8). Acorn then extended the lead 5 minutes later with Joe Budd breaking from half way to go between the sticks for Chilton to convert (6-14). At this point it looked like the visitors could run away with the game but Eccles responded inside 2 minutes. Adam Taher was stopped just short of the line, between the sticks and quick hands from Chris Smith and Muscat saw Mike O’Boyle dive over in the corner. Taher took over the kicking duties and was unlucky with a difficult attempt (10-14) and he too only managed 1 conversion from 4 efforts.

 

Eccles drew level on 32 minutes with an identical try to the previous one with Taher again held up short, but this timeSmith and Chad Grant combined to send Muscat over in the corner, again too far out for Taher to convert (14-14). That score prompted a response from Acorn and they forced a drop out with Christian Higgins knocking the ball dead under pressure, then, from that drop out Matthew Woods sped over for a unconverted try 4 minutes from half time (14-18).

 

It looked like the York side would take a lead into half time but the game changed with extraordinary events in injury time. With 2 minutes extra played Eccles were awarded a penalty for a high tackle in front of the sticks and believing that the referee was about to blow for the break Taher converted to reduce the arrears (16-18). The referee however, told the players that he would blow up after the next tackle so, on collecting the kick off Morgan sent a high kick deep into Acorn territory. Acorn allowed the ball to bounce and Morgan kicked it into the in goal and followed up to score wide out. Taheragain missed the kick (20-18).

 

Eccles had 2 tries disallowed in the first 8 minutes of the second period with Mark Thomas losing out after the referee ruled Marc Jones’s off load went forward and then Richard Openshaw scrambled over only for the ref to penalize him for a double movement.  It took until the 54th minute before a legitimate try was scored and it came from Eccles. Carl Mort ran hard before passing for Candland to hold off 2 defenders and score in the corner. Muscat returned to the kicking duties and he too was off target (24-18). Acorn were back on the attack straight away though and 4 minutes later Woods was denied his second try when the ref pulled him back for a forward pass. The same player would not be denied 2 minutes later however after Chris Rushworth put him over 10 metres from the corner. Chilton booted a superb conversion to make the score level at 24-24.

 

Eccles were livid on 65 minutes when they had a third try chalked off with a touch judge ruling that Higgins put a foot in touch after O’Boyle sent him over the line, but there was no doubt about the try that restored Eccles lead on 70 minutes when Grant passed to Richard Openshaw, and the hooker displayed great strength to wrestle out of a 3 man tackle and touch down under the crossbar. Muscat converted (30-24).

 

Acorn are not promotion contenders for nothing and they threw everything at Eccles in the last 10 minutes. They were encouraged just 3 minutes from time when Eccles were reduced to 12 players. Acorn’s stand out player Adam Endersby was held up just short of the line by 3 Eccles defenders and when the referee called held the ball was in the hands ofGrant who was sin binned for ball stealing. The Eccles defence held firm though with debutant Daniel Derbyshireputting in a great defensive stint.

Eccles ensured the points 2 minutes into injury time when they were awarded a penalty 37 metres out for dissent. CoachPaul Viller ordered the team to go for goal and up stepped Morgan to convert brilliantly (32-24). The York resistance was broken now and Muscat put the “icing on the cake” with a try on the back of a powerful break across the half way line by Mort, although Muscat failed to convert his own try (36-24).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (2T, 2G), Mike McGrath, Payden Candland (1T), Mike O’Boyle (1T), Christian Higgins, Chris Smith, Paul Morgan (2T, 1G, MoM), Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw (1T), Mark Jones, Chad Grant, Carl Mort, Bradley Lonsdale, Daniel Derbyshire, Mike Foster, Alan Wands, Adam Taher (1G)

Saturday 11th August 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

CASTLEFORD PANTHERS 18-28 ECCLES

 

A second half hat trick of tries from man of the match Richard Openshaw proved to be the only difference between Eccles and bottom side Castleford Panthers in a mistake riddled match played in very hot conditions, and not helped by an over officious referee who awarded 23 penalties in a game that did not contain a dirty tackle. 13 of them went to the home side.

 

Having lost Mike Carney and Adam Walker during the week, the pair having left for a working holiday in Australia, Eccles are now down to the “bare bones” regarding players available and they knew that they would be in for a tough game at struggling Panthers. Steve Barry was moved to scrum half to replace Carney and loose forward Chris Smithdrew the “short straw”, filling in the problem stand off spot. On the up side for Eccles was the performance of 17 year old first team debutant Eze Harper who is surely one to watch for the future. Young centre Payden Candland also impressed and pushed Openshaw for the man of the match.

 

The home side opened the scoring on 7 minutes when Jamie Chappell forced a try 10 metres from the posts, leaving Panthers stand out player – Chris Knowles an easy conversion (0-6), but it only took 5 minutes for Eccles to open their account. Barry sent a low kick through the defence and Andrew Muscat hacked it on for Christian Higgins to score wide out, although too far out for Barry to convert (4-6).

 

On 26 minutes Candland finished off a slick passing move to score in the corner only for the try to be disallowed on the intervention of a touch judge for a foot in touch. Then, as Panthers moved quickly to restart the game Bradley Lonsdalegot in the way, in an off side position and was sin binned for a professional foul. Eccles survived being a man down though and went in level at half time when Panthers were guilty of holding down just 10 seconds from the break and change kicker Adam Taher converted from in front of the posts (6-6).

 

Eccles conceded a goal line drop out straight from the second half kick off when they allowed the ball to bounce dead, but they defended well and went on to take the lead for the first time on 49 minutes when Openshaw “shot” through a gap for his first try after both Candland and Mike McGrath had been stopped just short. Taher added a great conversion from wide out (12-6), but Panthers fought back to level the scores on 55 minutes. Eccles were drawn into the middle and the ball was moved quickly to the wing where Knowles touched down and also added a very difficult conversion (12-12).

 

It was tough on Panthers that straight from the re-start Taher’s kick off was dropped into touch putting Eccles on the attack via a drop out, and the game breaker came on the hour with Eccles scoring 3 tries in 5 minutes. Taher and Carl Mort ran powerfully to set up position, and Openshaw sent Mitchell Krog over for a try that Taher converted (18-12), then Mark Thomas ran strongly before sending Openshaw between the sticks for change kicker Muscat to add the extras (24-12), and finally Thomas again off loaded out of the tackle for Openshaw to race 35 metres for his hat trick. This time Muscatmissed the kick (28-12) and the final say went to the home team with Scott Holder diving over from dummy half for a try on the back of 4 successive penalties. Knowles converted, but with only 2 minutes left to play it was too little, too late (28-18).

 

TEAM:  Andrew Muscat (1G), Mike McGrath, Payden Candland, Mitchell Krog (1T), Christian Higgins (1T), Chris Smith, Steve Barry, Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw (3T, MoM), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Chad Grant, Bradley Lonsdale, Eze Harper, Mike Foster, Carl Mort, Adam Taher (3G)

Saturday 4th August 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 36-20 WIGAN ST. JUDES

 

Eccles just about ended St. Judes’ outside chance of winning promotion this season in what was a very entertaining game involving two very committed teams. Eccles only had 16 players available in order to put a second team out, andAndrew Muscat and Payden Candland were forced to play in positions that were unfamiliar to them, but both excelled as Eccles fought off the challenge of a determined young St. Judes team.

 

Eccles opened the scoring on 5 minutes when a delayed pass from Steve Barry sent Andrew Muscat through a gap to score 18 metres from the corner. Mike Carney added the goal (6-0) and he went on to convert all 6 of the Eccles tries, although when he took a high tackle on 13 minutes his penalty shot rebounded off a post. Eccles were in control early in the game and 2 minutes before the Carney penalty Eccles forced a goal line drop out when Richard Openshaw’s kick to the in goal was collected by a defender who put a foot in touch. Openshaw also provided the pass that allowed Mike O’Boyle to stretch out of a tackle and score the try that doubled Eccles’ lead in the 27th minute (12-0).

 

Eccles extended the lead on 33 minutes when Chris Smith and Openshaw combined to send Carl Mort crashing through 3 defenders to score (18-0), but St. Judes gave themselves a lifeline in the last 2 minutes of the half when a chip over the defence saw Scott Robinson get a hand to the ball in the corner and Gareth Thomas converted brilliantly from the touch line (18-6) and there was just time for Thomas to add a long distance penalty when Eccles were pulled for ripping the ball out with 2 players in the tackle (18-8).

 

Ten minutes into the second half St. Judes had full back Nathan Jones sin binned for holding down and Eccles took advantage 6 minutes later when Mike McGrath made a break across the half way line and then Carney andOpenshaw engineered a try for Chad Grant (24-8), but even with a man down St. Judes got on the score board again on 58 minutes when Barry Rothwell squeezed through a gap and raced in for a try between the sticks that Thomas converted easily (24-14).

 

There were no further scores until 10 minutes from time when Carney swapped passes with O’Boyle before sendingPayden Candland over for a try 15 metres from the corner (30-14). St. Judes though, still felt they could get something out of the game and a long pass on 74 minutes enabled Conal Bevan to “stroll” over in the coner. Thomas’s conversion from the touch line increased the visitors hopes (30-20) only for Eccles to seal the victory 3 minutes from time.Candland was stopped 5 metres from the line in the corner and then a long pass from Openshaw saw Mark Thomaspush off two defenders to crash over 12 metres from the sticks (36-20). To their credit, St. Judes never gave up and finished the game on the attack, forcing a goal line drop out with McGrath being called on to boot the ball dead.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T), Mike McGrath, Payden Candland (1T), Mitchell Krog (MoM), Christian Higgins, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (6G), Chad Grant (1T), Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Bradley Lonsdale, Chris Smith, Mark Thomas (1T), Carl Mort (1T), Adam Walker.

Saturday 21st July 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

STANNINGLEY 42-18 ECCLES

 

Influential Aussie full back Mike Forgham played his last game for Eccles and the side were hoping for a victory to get the bon voyage party started, but this was a day when anything that could go wrong for Eccles – did! There is no way that the Stanningley side were worth such a large winning margin over Eccles, but it was just one of those days that nothing went right. A very poor refereeing performance did not help either, but it seemed all so different in the first 10 minutes.

In the opening 10 minutes Eccles were awarded 4 penalties to nil and took a 12-0 lead, but it all went wrong after that and the referee went on to award Eccles only 2 more penalties while awarding the home side 14, and this fact frustrated the Eccles side as the official missed several dubious tactics from the Leeds outfit.

 

After just 3 minutes Mike Carney’s clever kick was touched by a defender before going dead and from the ensuing drop out Paul Morgan beat one defender and rolled out of a tackle to score next to the post, leaving Carney an easy conversion (6-0) then Morgan turned provider on 9 minutes, sending a smart pass out to Muscat who stepped inside a defender to score half way between the posts and corner and Carney converted again (12-0).

 

The home side got their first try on 24 minutes when, on the back of 2 successive penalties, Adam Benn forced the ball down in the corner, too far out for Sean Cooper to convert (12-4), but Eccles also lost Carney with a back injury at this point and Stanningley turned the scores round before half time.

 

On 33 minutes Danny Renwick got through a gap to score and Cooper converted (12-10), then they took the lead on 37 minutes when Simon Thompson struggled out of a tackle to score in the corner and Cooper added a great conversion (12-16) and Cooper also added a long distance penalty right on the half time whistle when Eccles were penalized for dissent (12-18).

 

9 minutes into the second half Anthony Glynn wriggled out of a tackle to score between the sticks, leaving Cooper an easy conversion (12-24) but Eccles hit back on 54 minutes with Morgan and Steve Barry combining to send Forghamin for a try with a defender hanging on to his shirt. Barry took over the kicking duties and converted (18-24). This was a good period for Eccles and 4 minutes later Mitchell Krog claimed to have scored a try that would have brought Eccles level with a the conversion but the referee ruled it out for some reason and Stanningley went straight up the other end and scored through winger Josh Tate with Cooper converting again (18-30).

 

In the 70th minute Muscat charged down an attacking kick on the last tackle but the ball went straight into the hands of Cooper for a “walk in” try that he also converted (18-36) and just to compound Eccles’ misery Tom Kent intercepted an Eccles pass and raced 80 metres for a final try on 77 minutes that Cooper converted again (18-42).

 

Marc Jones was adjudged the Eccles man of the match but there were other strong performances from Muscat,Morgan, Chad Grant and Carl Mort.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham (1T), Tom Pratt, Andrew Muscat (1T), Mitchell Krog, Bradley Lonsdale, Paul Morgan (1T), Mike Carney (2G), Mark Thomas, Steve Barry (1G), Marc Jones (MoM), Mike O’Boyle, Chad Grant, Chris Smith, Ben Williamson, Payden Candland, Carl Mort, Mike Foster.

Saturday 30th June 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 6-44 EGREMONT RANGERS

 

Eccles saved their worst performance of the season for the visit of promotion chasing Egremont Rangers. To be fair, Eccles suffered injuries early in the game to NCL player of the month Mike Forgham and powerful Aussie centreMitchell Krog, but even so, Eccles had enough talented players on the pitch to have done much better than they did. At the end of the day their Cumbrian visitors gave them a lesson and thoroughly deserved the points.

Eccles got off to a great start with Mike Carney’s kick off bouncing dead to force the visitors into a goal line drop out, but Eccles failed to capitalize on the possession and it was Rangers who opened the scoring on 10 minutes when Matthew Brewsher stretched out of a tackle for a try that John Paul Brocklebank converted (0-6).

Eccles drew level on 19 minutes when Forgham sent 17 year old Tom Pratt through a gap to score his first ever first team try and Carney added the goal points (6-6), but they were only level for 4 minutes before Brocklebank spun out of a tackle to score a try that he also converted (6-12). Rangers took control of the game at this point and after twice forcing goal line drops out with first Forgham and then Mike McGrath being tackled in goal they went further ahead an unconverted try from Leon Crellin a minute from the break (6-16).

Marc Jones made 26 tackles for Eccles in the first half but he also suffered an injury and didn’t appear for the second period which started disastrously for the home side. Within 8 minutes of the re-start the game was over as a contest. Alistair Leak scored 2 minutes after kick off (6-22) and 2 tries in 2 minutes from Brocklebank gave him a hat trick of tries and he also converted all 3 (6-34).

Brocklebank was a constant threat to the Eccles side and his long pass, just before the hour allowed Ryan Barnes to score in the corner, although too far out for Brocklebank to convert (6-38), but he did convert the final try which was scored by Rhys Davies right on the final whistle.

Adam Walker who came on as a second half substitute made 28 tackles but was pipped for the Eccles man of the match award by international hooker Richard Openshaw.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham, Mike McGrath, Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krogg, Christian Higgins, Paul Morgan, Mike Carney (1G), Chad Grant, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Bradley Lonsdale, Steve Barry, Tom Pratt (1T), Adam Walker, Carl Mort, Chris Roughley.

Wednesday 20th June 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 46-14 CASTLEFORD LOCK LANE

 

Eccles’ injury situation has got so bad now that they were forced to bring Jason Carter out of retirement for his first game of the season and also draft in Sean Watson for only his second ever game in the first team. From the 13 who played at Hunslet last time out they lost Kashley Watkins with a knee injury that could see him miss the rest of the season, but on the plus side they did welcome back scrum half Mike Carney, captain Chris Smith and forward Adam Walker. Despite all the problems they showed that the club has strength in depth by producing one of their best displays of the season to thrash promotion chasing Castleford Lock Lane.

 

Aussie full back Mike Forgham was again outstanding at returning the ball and his fellow countryman Mitchell Krogcaught the eye with some powerful running, but the man of the match award went to a man that has played on the wing most of the season, yet stood up when he was needed and took the accolade as a second row forward – Mike O’Boyle.

 

Eccles “blitzed” the visitors with 22 points to no reply in the opening 19 minutes with 4 tries and Carney converting all but the second. The opening try came on 4 minutes when Paul Morgan’s chip over the defense bounced kindly back toMike McGrath who returned it to Morgan to send Forgham over 15 metres from the post (6-0), then on 10 minutes a fast cross field passing movement involving Steve Barry, Carney and Chad Grant was finished off 10 metres from the corner by Smith (10-0). Grant was the scorer of the third try in the 14th minute, running hard to bust the defensive line and go round the full back (16-0) and he was followed over the line 5 minutes later by O’Boyle who ran strongly into the defense before stretching out of a tackle to score 10 metres from the post (22-0).

 

Lock Lane managed to stop the onslaught and got on the scoreboard just after the half hour with Joe Burton forcing the ball down 18 metres from the sticks, allowing Danny Rowse to convert (22-6), but from the re-start Carney’s kick off was dropped, giving Eccles possession and Morgan “dummied” his way over too far out for Carney to convert (26-6).

 

Two minutes from the half time break Carney was pulled down 10 metres from the try line and from the play the ballForgham handed off a defender to score his second try, wide out, but this time Carney added a great conversion (32-6).

 

Predictably, Lock Lane came out for the second half with a determination to make up for the first half and enjoyed their best period of the game, forcing a goal line drop out after 2 minutes with McGrath tackled in goal, but Eccles defended manfully and then broke away to end any hopes of a comeback on 54 minutes with slick passing through Morgan, Grant and Andrew Muscat ending with McGrath diving over just inside the corner flag, again though too far out forCarney to add the extras (36-6).

 

To their credit, the Castleford side never gave up and 3 minutes after the Eccles score Mikey Hayward squeezed over in the corner for a try. Rowse missed the conversion (36-10) and Eccles responded with 2 tries from Krog in 6 minutes, the second converted by Carney. The first came on 63 minutes when Forgham sent a long pass for Krog to power over 5 metres from the corner (40-10) and he handed off a defender to score his second half way between the posts and corner after good work from Watson and Carney (46-10).

 

On 75 minutes a high tackle on Forgham caused a fracas that saw Carney sin binned and spoiled an otherwise highly entertaining game that was played in great spirit from both sides and excellently refereed by Andrew Smith.

The Yorkshiremen settled down quickest after the melee’ and had the final say with a try in the corner from Adam Garlick that Rowse was unlucky not to convert (46-14).

 

Team: Mike Forgham (2T), Mike McGrath (1T), Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krog ;(2T), Christian Higgins, Paul Morgan (1T), Mike Carney (5G), Chad Grant (1T), Chris Roughley, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle (1T, MoM), Bradley Lonsdale, Steve Barry, Sean Watson, Adam Walker, Jason Carter, Chris Smith (1T).

Saturday 16th June 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

HUNSLET WARRIORS 20-14 ECCLES

 

The words “unlucky” and “the best team lost” have been used many times this season by opposition coaches to describe Eccles performances, but in this case both would certainly apply. It was a bad start to the day for the club with Mark Thomas (holiday), Chris Smith (family reasons), Richard Openshaw (rested for the NCL Eagles test in France next week) and Mike Carney, Payden Candland, Carl Mort, Adam Taher, Adam Walker all injured from the previous week, and even replacement Alan Wands pulled out hours before the team were due to leave after an accident at home, resulting in the club travelling to Leeds with only 13 fit players. On the flip side though they welcomed backKashley Watkins from injury and all the players who were brought in as replacements were outstanding. All 13 played the full 80 minutes and were terribly unlucky to lose the game in the last seconds. Hooker Chris Roughley was particularly impressive and topped the tackle count.

 

Things started awfully for Eccles as they knocked on straight from the kick off and the home side opened their account with a try from Olly Graham, although some spectators claimed he never grounded the ball, so maybe it was justice when Johnny Dawson missed the kick (0-4), and on 5 minutes Eccles drew level. Mike Forgham took a pass 15 metres out and rounded the centre and full back to score wide out, too far out for Andrew Muscat to convert (4-4).

 

There was some doubt about the second home try as well, possibly a forward pass, on 9 minutes, when Holmes and Mark Cunningham combined to send Luke Rayner over in the corner, again too far out for Holmes to convert (4-8). At this point it looked like the game could turn into a high scoring affair but defences got on top and the scoreboard was not troubled again in the first period.

Eccles grew in confidence as the game went on and started to take control in the second half, and they drew level on 48 minutes when Steve Barry and Chad Grant sent Mitchell Krog barging through the defence to score wide out. Grant, who just pipped Marc Jones for the man of the match award, took over the kicking duties and was very unlucky with a difficult shot (8-8), but Eccles were behind again 3 minutes later when Cunningham broke from half way to touch down in the corner and change kicker Richard Wheelhouse slotted over a great conversion (8-14).

On 59 minutes Warriors had Caldon Bravo sin binned for mouthing at the referee, but as hard as Eccles tried to take advantage the home defence stood firm, until the 75th minute that is when a low kick across the ball by Barry bounced perfectly for Watkins to score and Grant levelled the score again with the conversion (14-14).

 

A draw may have been a fair result but Eccles lost it in the dying seconds. They were on the attack and looking ready to set up a field goal when a penalty went against them. Hunslet took a quick tap and caught the tired Eccles side out with a break by Cunningham leading to a try from Matty Scott, and as Wheelhouse added the conversion (14-20) there was no time left to restart the game.

 

Team:  Mike Forgahm (1T), Mike McGrath, Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krog (1T), Mike O’Boyle, Steve Barry, Paul Morgan, Chad Grant (MoM, 1G), Chris Roughley, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Bradley Lonsdale, Kashley Watkins (1T).

Saturday 9th June 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

BRADFORD DUDLEY HILL 48-18 ECCLES

 

Eccles travelled to the league leaders Dudley Hill with only 16 fit players and suffered further blows with the loss of scrum half Mike Carney after 2 minutes with a back injury and young forward Payden Candland after 14 minutes with a rib injury, so it was no surprise that they were well beaten. They can at least take heart though from a slid second half performance in which they matched their hosts at 18-18, but the damage had already been done in the first half with theBradford side scoring 30 points to nil.

 

Dudley Hill opened the scoring on 6 minutes when Nathan Kitson broke from half way to score a try that he also converted (0-6) and 2 minutes later he was on target again after Aidy Batey spun out of a tackle to score 10 metres from the post (0-12). Eccles man of the match Mike Forgham chased his own kick to force the home side into a goal line drop out on 16 minutes, but that was all the visitors had to cheer in the first period as Dudley Hill dominated.

 

Kyle Bateman forced the ball down for a try on 27 minutes (0-18), followed 4 minutes later by Kitson scoring his second after a break from half way by Simon Sewell (0-24), and finally Lewis Evans went round the posts for a try 4 minutes from the whistle with Kitson converting all of them (0-30). Dudley Hill also forced a goal line drop out when Forgham was tackled in goal in the 38th minute.

 

The second half also started badly for Eccles with the kick off bouncing off Adam Taher’s foot straight into the arms of Alex Dickinson who darted through the defence to score in the corner. Kitson missed his kick for the first time (0-34) and he also missed a much easier effort after Daniel Softley scored a great individual try from the half way line on 49 minutes (0-38). Eccles got on the board on 51 minutes though with Richard Openshaw and Steve Barry combining to sendTaher crashing over 12 metres from the corner, albeit too far out for Taher to convert (4-38).

 

On 56 minutes Eccles should have been awarded a penalty for kicking out but somehow the referee saw it the other way round and Dudley Hill went on to score through Bateman again, with Kitson converting (4-44), but to their credit Eccles never gave up and finished the last quarter the stronger side. Forgham side stepped 3 defenders to score a try thatTaher converted on 64 minutes (10-44) but he was unable to add the extras to either of Mitchell Krog’s tries, which came in the 70th minute after Chad Grant slipped him a pass out of the tackle (14-44) and 76 minutes after a great passing movement involving Taher, Forgham and Grant (18-44). The last say went to the home side though with Kitson intercepting and racing 70 metres for his hat trick, although Krog’s chase back forced him into the corner and he was unable to convert (18-48).

 

 

Team:  Mike Forgham (MoM, 1T), Mike McGrath, Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krog (2T), Mike O’Boyle, Steve Barry, Mike Carney, Chad Grant, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Payden Candland, Carl Mort, Chris Smith, Bradley Lonsdale, Adam Taher (1T, 1G), Adam Walker.

Saturday 2nd June 2012 

National Conference Division 1

 

STANLEY RANGERS 24-30 ECCLES

 

Eccles recorded a third successive victory with a first ever win at Wakefield side Stanley Rangers, and they did it the hard way, coming back from 16 points behind after a disastrous opening quarter. With 5 tries each the difference between the two sides at the end of 80 minutes proved to be Mike Carney’s goal kicking. The victory lifted Eccles up to 7th in the table and left Stanley facing battle to avoid relegation.

 

Rangers had a dream start with 2 tries in the opening 3 minutes, although kicker Danny Grice failed to convert either. Eccles knocked on from the kick off and Luke Crawley made them pay with a try in the corner (0-4), then before any Eccles player got a hand on the ball again, a kick to the corner saw Joel Marsh get a hand to the ball just before it went dead (0-8).

 

Eccles reduced the deficit on 7 minutes when Carl Mort attacked strongly before Richard Openshaw sent Mitchell Krog powering through 3 defenders to score a try 12 metres from the corner (4-8). Carney missed the conversion and Rangers went on to record 20 points in 21 minutes. On 11 minutes Eccles were drawn into the middle and the ball was shipped quickly wide where Oliver Wood stretched out to score. Grice converted (4-14) and he converted again after David Baxby produced a great side step to wrong foot the Eccles defense and score (20-4). It could have been worse on 23 minutes but for a try saving tackle on Dominic Hunt from Eccles’ man of the match Forgham.

 

Rangers continued to threaten and forced a goal line drop out in the 29th minute, tackling Forgham in goal, but there was no panic in the Eccles ranks, and the general feeling was that the game could still be won. That faith was rewarded as Eccles hit Rangers with 2 Carney converted tries in 2 minutes. The first came on 33 minutes when Steve Barry sentAdam Taher crashing over between the sticks (10-20) and that was quickly followed by a fine long range try from youngPayden Candland. Candland took a pass just before the half way line after a good drive by Taher and wrong footed the defence, racing 60 metres and leaving defenders trailing to score half way between the sticks and corner (16-20).

 

Eccles started much the brighter side in the second half and they took the lead for the first time on 48 minutes withForgham taking a pass 15 metres out and “jinking” past several defenders to score 10 metres from the post. Carney’sconversion edged the visitors in front (22-20), and Eccles thought they had scored again on 55 minutes when a great move involving Chad Grant and Chris Smith was finished off by Krog, but joy turned to despair as the try was ruled out by a touch judge for a forward pass. Eccles did increase the lead though, on the hour with Mort again running hard leading to Openshaw passing for Mark Thomas to crash over 8 metres from the post, leaving Carney an easy kick (28-20).

 

There was still 12 minutes left to play when Grice sent Crawley over for his second try, although Grice failed to hit the target with his kick again (28-24), but that set up a frantic finish with both sides desperate to add to their tally, although defences held firm and the scoreboard was only troubled again with Carney converted a long distance penalty in the 75th minute when Rangers stripped the ball with 2 men in the tackle.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham (MoM, 1T), Paul Morgan, Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krog (1T), Mike O’Boyle, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (5G), Chad Grant, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas (1T), Payden Candland (1T), Carl Mort, Chris Smith, Mike McGrath, Marc Jones, John McAtee, Adam Taher (1T).

Friday 25th May 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 38-16 OLDHAM ST. ANNES

 

Eccles scored an emphatic victory over Oldham St. Annes that was made all the more remarkable by the fact that they played 62 minutes with one player less than the visitors. It was far from an easy victory though and going into the last quarter there were only 6 points between the sides. The strangest statistic was the fact that both sides received a red and a yellow card each, because games between these two sides have never been bad tempered. Maybe the tone was set early on by the referee’s over reaction to Mark Thomas’s challenge. Once he was sent from the field all the players were playing under added scrutiny which created extra pressure.

 

Eccles were on the attack right from the start with Mike Carney’s kick off bouncing dead and forcing St. Annes into a goal line drop out, then 2 minutes later Mitchell Krog forced a defender to kick the ball dead after chasing Steve Barry’s astute kick to force another drop out. Man of the match Krog was soon in action at the other end as well, kicking the ball to safety on 4 minutes to concede another drop out. Play then swung back to the other end and Eccles were awarded a long distance penalty for a high tackle but Carney failed to convert. Eccles opened the scoring though on 8 minutes when Barry and Carney combined to put Christian Higgins over just inside the corner flag, and Carneyconverted brilliantly (6-0).

 

On 11 minutes Thomas received his marching orders for a high challenge, and it was a bad challenge, but so early in the game a lot of officials would have given a warning yet this referee has a history of sending off Eccles players. St. Annes made the extra man count on 23 minutes when Michael Cadd powered over the line and St. Annes stand out player Jordan White converted (6-6). From the re-start full back Ged Roods knocked on behind the line, conceding a third goal line drop out, although Eccles failed to make them pay for it.

 

Four minutes from half time White was given a penalty opportunity for the Oldham side but failed to hit the target and Eccles took a lead into the break with a Carney converted try right on the whistle. An Oldham player was being bungled into touch but managed to release the ball only for Payden Candland to swoop onto it and race 30 metres down the wing then round the sticks (12-6).

All the signs were that it was going to be a very tight game, so when Eccles were awarded a penalty on 50 minutesCarney went for goal and was unlucky to see his shot bounce back off the far post. Eccles only had 5 minutes to wait for the next score though when John McAtee was stopped 10 metres from the try line and Adam Taher, who was seething over a bloody nose he received minutes earlier, charged over the line, although too far out for Carney to convert (16-6).

 

St. Annes still had a belief they could win at this point and bounced back just before the hour with Dane English shrugging off a tackle to score in the corner. White put his kick across the goal (16-10) and they were “sickened” just 3 minutes later, after getting back into the game, to concede again. Richard Openshaw sent Carl Mort on a powerful run down the flank and followed him up to receive a pass back inside and score a try that Carney converted (22-10).

 

When Taher burst through 2 tackles on 68 minutes to score his second try, which Carney converted (28-10), the victory was sealed and the “flood gates” appeared to be opening. Eccles scored again inside 2 minutes after good work in the middle of the park by McAtee saw Mike Forgham go on a “mazy” run through the defence to score a unconverted try (32-10).

On 73 minutes 2 successive high tackles on Krog saw the game erupt and the result was a red card for Oldham’s Carl Fields and sin bins for John Fox and Barry. Eccles settled down quickest after the melee and on 76 minutes McAteesent Forgham through a gap for his second try, which Carney converted (38-10), although St. Annes had the final say with a Jordan Hanley break-away try, converted by White (38-16).

 

Team:  Mike Forgham (2T), Christian Higgins (1T), Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krog (MoM), Mike O’Boyle, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (5G), Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw (1T), Chad Grant, Brad Lonsdale, Carl Mort, Chris Smith, Payden Candland (1T), Marc Jones, John McAtee, Adam Taher (2T).

Saturday 19th May 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

MILLOM  24-40 ECCLES

 

Eccles made the long journey up to Cumbria with only 15 players on the day that Marc Gilligan and Mike Davies left for a working holiday in Australia, and with Marc Jones away in Benidorm added to Kashley Watkins, Mike McGrath, Mike Foster and Payden Candland on the injured list. They did have the motivation though of having Glynn Watsonmake his first appearance of the season, and his last ever for the club before departing for a new life in Australia, and also the fact that the Millom player coach - Anthony Murray was the Eccles player coach 2 years ago. Eccles are renowned for pulling off good performances when their “backs are to the wall” and this was evident once again, although once again they showed that they are capable of letting a good lead slip. They are certainly an entertaining side to watch these days, scoring some great tries but always suspect in defence.

Eccles took the lead after only 5 minutes when Chad Grant attacked strongly before Richard Openshaw slipped the ball out of a tackle for Watson to dive over between the sticks, leaving Mike Carney an easy conversion (6-0), and they doubled the lead on 16 minutes when Chris Smith was stopped just short 8 metres from the post and Openshaw sentAdam Taher crashing over, Carney again converting (12-0).

Millom forced a goal line drop out in the 25th minute with Mike Forgham taking a tackle in goal and 2 minutes later poor tackling allowed Ian Armstrong to score a try that Paul Evans converted (12-6), but Eccles hit back again just after the half hour. A long pass from Murray was intercepted by Andrew Muscat and he raced 65 metres before getting tackled, then a quick play the ball allowed Carney to send Forgham over for the first of his 2 tries in 2 minutes, that Carneyconverted (18-6).

The try of the match came on 33 minutes when Forgham collected a high kick and stepped past 2 defenders to race 70 metres between the posts, leaving Carney another easy conversion (24-6). Carney showed that he can also convert the difficult kicks as well though right on the half time whistle after Ben Williamson managed to release the ball out of a tackle for Bradley Lonsdale to dive over just inside the corner flag (30-6).

Millom came out much stronger in the second half and after forcing another drop out on 45 minutes, Openshaw tackled in goal, they scored through Adam Kelly (30-10) and added a further try 5 minutes later with Jamie Sandham taking advantage 2 successive penalties, but fortunately for Eccles Evans missed both conversion attempts (30-14)

Eccles forced a goal line drop out themselves on 55 minutes with Muscat chasing Carney’s kick to make a tackle, and they made the field position count with Openshaw sending Carney over for a try that he also converted (36-14). Millom managed to get the ball dead from the re-start, forcing a third drop out, but were unable to take advantage and Eccles secured the points with a final try on 63 minutes. Openshaw and Mitchell Krog combined to send Mike O’Boyle over wide out. Carney recorded his first miss of the afternoon (40-14) and once again Millom retained possession from the re-start, and this time they did make it count with Armstrong forcing his way over for his second try, although too far out for Evans to convert (40-18).

Millom, to their credit, never gave up and they gave themselves hope on 70 minutes when Murray broke through the line and drew full back Forgham before passing inside for Lee Edmondson to go round the sticks for a try that Evans added the goal to (40-24), and they forced a fourth goal line drop out 3 minutes later, dragging Forgham back behind the try line, but Eccles held out for the win. Carney had the chance to end the game with another 2 points after Millom were penalized for a high challenge but his long distance kick was taken away from the target at the last second by the swirling wind.

 

Team:  Mike Forgahm (2T), Ben Williamson, Andrew Muscat, Mitch Krog, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Steve Barry, Mike Carney (1T, 6G), Glynn Watson (MoM, 1T), Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas, Chad Grant, Brad Lonsdale (1T), Chris Smith, Carl Mort, Adam Taher (1T).

Saturday 5th May 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 18-20 MILFORD MARLINS

 

For the second successive week Eccles scored more tries than their visitors and failed to win, but, even though he failed to convert 3 tries Mike Carney was given the Eccles man of the match award for his overall contribution. Milford are one of the teams who are challenging for promotion on this season but Eccles edged them in terms of possession and once again did not get the rewards their efforts deserved. The side were severely disrupted this week with Marc Jones, Carl Mort and Adam Taher all away on functions and Marc Gilligan injured, and then Kashley Watkins pulled out the day before the game after an injury at work, although, on the plus side there was a solid first team debut for Alan Wands in the forwards.

 

Milford threatened first when their man of the match Matthew Harding broke down the wing from half way on 6 minutes only to be denied by a try saving tackle from Mike Forgham but Eccles opened the scoring on 13 minutes whenCarney fed Mike McGrath and he held off his opposite winger to touch down in the corner. Carney was unable to convert from a tight angle (4-0) and he was also off target when Eccles scored again on the half hour. Mike Davies was hauled down 5 metres from the try line wide out and from the play the ball Richard Openshaw sent Chad Grantcrashing over the line (8-0).

 

Milford gave themselves a lifeline 2 minutes from the break when Josh Parle burst through a gap between the sticks, leaving Ryan Oxtoby an easy conversion (8-4), but Eccles were first out of the blocks in the second half with a try on 45 minutes. Steve Barry slipped a pass out of a tackle and Forgham shot through a gap to score half way between the posts and corner flag, but again Carney was off target with his kick (12-6).

 

Milford sensed now that luck was not with the Eccles side and they drew level on 51 minutes with Oxtoby converting a try from Joe Ramsden (12-12) before taking the lead for the first time 6 minutes later when James Barker forced the ball down for a try and Oxtoby converted again (12-18).

 

It was obvious that the game was going to be tight, with not much between the teams and Parle attempted a drop goal on 61 minutes that went wide, but Oxtoby gave the Leeds outfit some breathing space with a 64th minute penalty after Eccles were pulled for a high tackle (12-20). That was the end of the scoring for Milford though as Eccles fought hard to get back into the game and on 67 minutes they did just that. Mitchell Krog made a good break before Carney “jinked” past 3 defenders for a try 5 metres from the post that change kicker Davies converted (18-20).

 

Eccles were in the ascendancy now and when Milford had John Elkington dismissed for a reckless high tackle onForgham with 9 minutes remaining they threw everything into attack. Unfortunately, they only had the benefit of the extra man for 4 minutes as John McAtee was sin binned for throwing a punch in a tackle. Even so, Eccles pressed forward and were given a chance to snatch another draw with a penalty 15 seconds from time, but Davies was off target andMilford breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 

 

Team: Mike Forgham (1T), Mike McGrath (1T), Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krog, Mike O’Boyle, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (1T, MoM), Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw, Chad Grant (1T), Payden Candland, Mike Davies (1G), Chris Smith, Christian Higgins, Adam Walker, John McAtee, Alan Wands.

Saturday 28th April 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 28-28 ROCHDALE MAYFIELD

 

Eccles .v. Mayfield games are usually high scoring, exciting games and this was no exception, but having scored 6 tries to 5 Eccles will feel it is a point lost rather than a point gained. Eccles also had 2 tries disallowed, but Mayfield forced Eccles into goal line drop outs 3 times. Over the 80 minutes a draw was probably a fair result but Eccles officials were left fuming at being on the wrong end of a 3-13 penalty count in a game that was played in good spirit by both teams.

 

Eccles opened the scoring with the first attack of the game, Mike Carney and Kashley Watkins combining to sendMike McGrath over in the corner and Carney was unlucky to see his kick from the touch line come back off a post (4-0).  Mayfield threatened on 15 minutes and Mitchell Krog was on hand to knock the ball dead, conceding the first drop out, but two minutes later Eccles doubled their lead. A good break by Carl Mort was followed by some slick passing involving Carney, Richard Openshaw and Watkins that saw McGrath cross the try line in the corner, but once again too far out for Carney to convert (8-0).

 

Eccles were looking comfortable at this point but a kick to the corner in the 25th minute by Steve Barry was caught by John Foy and the Mayfield winger raced 90 metres to score between the sticks, leaving Aidy Gleeson an easy conversion (8-6). The first half was mainly dominated by Eccles though and they scored again on 28 minutes withCarney and Mike Forgham providing Watkins with an opportunity to squeeze between 2 defenders to score wide out. Once again Carney put the conversion just wide (12-6).

 

Mayfield attacks were rare in the first half but they did force a second goal line drop out when Forgham was tackled in goal on 31 minutes, although Eccles made it 18-6 at half time with a Carney converted try 3 minutes from the break.Mark Thomas was stopped right on the try line and from the play the ball Openshaw sent Adam Taher crashing over between the sticks.

Mayfield were a much improved side in the second half and gave notice that they were still in the game on 48 minutes when they forced a third goal line drop out, Taher being forced to kick the ball dead, but there was an element of luck about their next try just a minute later. Carl Abraham intercepted a pass on the half way line and was tackled on the line by Forgham, but after consulting the touch judge the referee awarded a try. Change kicker Ieuan Higgs converted (18-12), and Mayfield were right back in the game 3 minutes later when Higgs turned try scorer, reaching out of a tackle to get the ball down over the line, although he failed to convert his own try (18-16).

 

Eccles gave themselves a bit of breathing space on 57 minutes when Payden Candland was pulled down inches from the line and from the play ball Watkins “dummied” to pass then displayed great strength to force his way over in the corner. Carney was off target with the conversion attempt again (22-16) and then Mayfield hit back again just after the hour. Ian Sampson showed the strength of his biblical namesake with a strong run towards the posts before off loading for Ben Butterworth to score next to the post, leaving Higgs an easy kick (22-22).

 

On 63 minutes Openshaw scampered over between the sticks only to have his effort ruled out for an obstruction by another Eccles player, and Openshaw was involved again two minutes later, providing the pass for Watkins to complete his hat trick. Carney converted (28-22) but the lead was short lived as Mayfield drew level two minutes later with Aidy Gleeson forcing a try next to the posts and also adding the conversion himself (28-28).

 

Chris Smith was sure he had won the game for Eccles on 77 minutes, going over next to the posts, but the referee ruled that he had made a double movement. Both sides battled for field position to score a winning drop goal and just as Eccles had Mike Davies and Carney in position for a one pointer with the last play of the game the referee blew for full time.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham, Mike McGrath (2T), Andrew Muscat, Kashley Watkins (3T), Mitchell Krog, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (2G), Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Marc Jones, Chad Grant, Carl Mort, Chris Smith, Payden Candland, Marc Thomas, Mike Davies, Adam Taher (1T)

Saturday 21st April 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

YORK ACORN 20-10 ECCLES

 

Second placed York Acorn have won all 6 games that they have played this season, but on this occasion Eccles matched them in every department, and were unlucky not to come away with at least a point. Even the Acorn chairman remarked in his after match speech that Eccles are the best team that they have played so far this season.  Eccles defended brilliantly when the home side piled on the pressure, but at the end of the day, the difference between the two sides was the Acorn full back John Waldron, who scored all 4 of their tries. 

 

Eccles conceded a goal line drop out on 4 minutes when Mike McGrath was tackled in goal but 6 minutes later they forced the York side into a goal line drop out with Andrew Muscat making a tackle in goal, as the two teams tested each other out.  It was Acorn who broke the deadlock though on 8 minutes with Waldron breaking down the wing from half way to cut inside and score 18 metres from the posts. Anthony Chilton added the conversion (0-6) but Eccles opened their account on 16 minutes with a slick passing move involving Marc Jones, Chris Smith and Carl Mort ending withMcGrath going round the winger to score, although too far out for Mike Carney to convert (4-6).

 

In the 20th minute Acorns’ Matt Withers had a try ruled out by the touch judge for a forward pass and Eccles went straight to the other end to take the lead. Richard Openshaw and Eccles man of the match Kashley Watkins combined to send McGrath over for his second try, and this time Carney added the conversion (10-6).  Acorn levelled though on 29 minutes with Waldron squeezing between 2 defenders to score wide out. Chilton missed the kick (10-10) and also missed an easy looking penalty 3 minutes from the break after Carney had restored Eccles’ advantage with a penalty on 33 minutes (12-10).

 

Two minutes into the second period Chilton was given another penalty chance and converted it to draw level again at 12-12. This was the home sides best period of the game but the Eccles defence held out well under tremendous pressure until Waldron forced his way over in the corner on 54 minutes. Change kicker Leigh Rothwell was off target with the kick (12-16).

 

On 62 minutes Steve Barry pulled off a try saving tackle on winger Aaron Thompson and a minute later Eccles conceded another drop out with Carney taking a tackle in goal, but Acorn didn’t make the game safe until 72 minutes when Waldron took advantage of a 40/20 kick to force a try in the corner, too far out once again for Chilton to convert (12-20).

 

Eccles finished strongly and tried hard to retrieve something from the game but the nearest they came to a score in the second half was forcing another drop out 3 minutes from time with Watkins and McGrath chasing Carney’s kick to the corner to force a defender to kick the ball dead.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham, Mike McGrath (2T), Andrew Muscat, Kashley Watkins (MoM), Mitchell Krog, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (2G), Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Chad Grant, Carl Mort, Chris Smith, Christian Higgins, Mark Thomas, Mike Davies, Adam Taher.

Saturday 14th April 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 29-22 CASTLEFORD PANTHERS

 

Eccles got back to winning ways with a very hard fought home victory over a very determined Castleford Panthers team, who will feel that they should have gone home with a share of the points. The home side were forced to make changes after the withdrawal of influential hooker Richard Openshaw with tonsillitis and also forward Mike Foster who suffered a broken leg in training, but they still had just enough strength in depth to take the points.

 

Panthers opened the scoring in the 10th minute with Lee Norton crashing over from short range 15 metres from the corner and full Scottish International Jamie Benn adding the conversion (0-6), but Eccles hit back on 18 minutes with strong running from Mark Thomas leading to a try in the corner by Andrew Muscat. Mike Carney missed the conversion (4-6) but was on target 10 minutes later after he and Steve Barry combined to send Mike Forgham over for a try following a good break from Chad Grant (10-6). Panthers went in level at the break though when Aaron Phelps dived low between two defenders to score on 32 minutes, although too far out for Benn to add the conversion (10-10).

 

Eccles started the second half well and forced a goal line drop out after only two minutes with Forgham making a tackle in goal after a neat kick to the corner from Barry, and they re-gained the lead on 50 minutes when Barry off loaded forCarl Mort to beat the last defender and score between the sticks, leaving Carney an easy conversion (16-10).

 

At this point Eccles looked set to forge ahead but Panthers got back on level terms again with Norton handing off a defender to touch down 8 metres from the corner and Benn adding a great conversion on 55 minutes (16-16). They were only level for 3 minutes though before Eccles hit them with 2 “quick fire” tries in 4 minutes, both converted byCarney, the first, from the touch-line. Both were long range efforts involving several players in the build up with the first finished off by Muscat in the corner (22-16) and the second seeing man of the match Chris Smith score between the sticks (28-16).

 

Panthers refused to lie down and hit back again on 66 minutes with Norton chipping over the defence and taking advantage of a kindly bounce to complete his hat trick. Change kicker Steve Gill added a difficult conversion to make it a very nervous last 14 minutes (28-22). With both sides defending well scoring opportunities were limited and Barry saw his drop goal attempt sail wide on 70 minutes. For all the points that were scored though it was a last ditch try saving tackle on winger Nathan Campsill by Smith that probably ensured Eccles won the game, although it was Carney who finally sealed the victory with a drop goal 3 minutes from time (29-22).

 

Team:  Mike Forgham (1T), Mitchell Krog, Andrew Muscat (2T), Mike O’Boyle, Bradley Lonsdale, Steve Barry, Kashley Watkins, Marc Gilligan, Mike Carney (4G, 1DG), Marc Jones, Payden Candland, Chad Grant, Chris Smith (MoM), Mike Davies, Mark Thomas, Adam Taher, Carl Mort (1T).

Thursday 5th April 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

WIGAN ST. JUDES 38-24 ECCLES

 

You never know what to expect when reporting on Eccles these days because anything can happen, and in this game we saw the best and the worst of the team over 80 minutes. If they played consistently at their best they would top the table, but when in their worst form they would be odds on for relegation. St. Judes built up a 20 point lead in 26 minutes and a 60 or 70 point loss looked on the cards, but then Eccles produced an incredible fight back to lead by 4 points just before the hour, only to throw the game away again in the last quarter. Eccles clearly missed the strong running of injured Adam Taher and Mike O’Boyle, but the real reason for their defeat was the speed of the home team. In full back Barry Rothwell, centre Scott Robinson and scrum half Dean Hunt they had 3 of the fastest players in this division, and they punished Eccles, although the final score-line did not do justice to the effort of the Eccles team in the last hour of the game.

 

The Wiganers took the lead with their first attack of the game when Hunt chipped over the defense and re-gathered the ball before sending Luke Belshaw between the sticks to leave Robinson an easy conversion (0-6), and the score was doubled on 7 minutes. Eccles were on the attack and kicked to the in-goal on the last tackle where Rothwell collected the ball and set off on a 70 metre run down the wing before off loading for Robinson to score a try that he converted himself (0-12).

 

In the 13th minute Rothwell was the provider again sending Stephen King over for a try 10 metres from the corner, although too far out for Robinson to convert this time (0-16), and Robinson also failed to convert when Belshaw scored his second try from 30 metres out on 26 minutes (0-20).

 

The “alarm bells” were ringing in the Eccles camp now but they responded positively with two Mike Carney converted tries in the last 5 minutes of the half. Richard Openshaw off loaded out of a tackle for Marc Gilligan to send Marc Jones over 10 metres from the post for Eccles’ opener (6-20) and Openshaw was again involved in a passing interchange with Carney and Carl Mort before Carney finished off the move right on the half time whistle (12-20). The home team were still a danger though as, in-between those tries Forgham was tackled in goal to concede a goal line drop out.

 

The second half was only 3 minutes old when Steve Barry “dummied” his way through a gap and passed for Andrew Muscat, celebrating his selection for the division 1 team of the month, to roll out of a tackle and score a try that Carneyadded the extras to (18-20). Eccles were dominant now and took the lead on 50 minutes with the best try of the night. They kept the ball alive with Muscat, Forgham and Mike Foster all involved before Chris Smith went round the posts for a try and Carney made it 4 goals from attempts (24-20).

 

The visitors now looked favourites to go on and win the game but the mammoth effort they had put in took its toll on them and the home team took advantage of some tired bodies. Hunt also returned from injury for St. Judes at this point and made a huge difference. On 56 minutes Robinson swooped on a loose ball to race 80 metres for a try, with his conversion handing his side the lead back (24-26).

 

Eccles tried hard to win the lead back and went close on a couple of occasions before Forgham was tackled in goal again on 64 minutes, and from the ensuing drop out Robinson went over to complete his hat trick and also add the kick (24-32). Just 3 minutes after that Belshaw also went over to complete a hat trick of tries and Robinson converted (24-38) to give himself a personal points tally of 22 on the night. It was great credit the defenses of both teams that the score board was not troubled again in the remaining 13 minutes.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham, Brad Lonsdale, Andrew Muscat (1T), Carl Mort, Mitchell Krog, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (MoM, 1T, 4G), Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones (1T), Chad Grant, Kashley Watkins, Chris Smith (1T), Payden Candland (not used), Mike Foster, Mike Davies, Adam Walker.

Saturday 31st March 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ECCLES 28-12 STANNINGLEY

 

All of Eccles’ games so far this season have followed a familiar pattern and this game was no exception. TheManchester side played some awesome attacking Rugby League in the first half and built up a good lead, with the visitors looking no threat at all, but just as has happened in the previous 3 games they allowed their opponents back into the game in the second period and ended up hanging on for the points. It was a second successive win though after two defeats in the league and if they can find a way to take their first half form into the second half they will surely be up with the promotion contenders as the season progresses.

 

Eccles dominated from the first whistle but somehow a combination of wrong options by Eccles and desperate defense from Stanningley kept the game scoreless until the 22nd minute, when Chad Grant and Adam Taher combined to send Richard Openshaw round the sticks for a try that Mike Carney converted easily (6-0). 5 minutes later a great pass from man of the match Mike Forgham sent Grant through a gap just before the half way line and he displayed a good turn of pace to beat full back Sean Cooper for a try 12 metres from the corner. This time Carney was unlucky with the difficult kick (10-0), but he added a second conversion after Eccles scored again just 3 minutes from the half time whistle. Carl Mort burst through the defensive line and made a great break before Mike Foster was stopped inches short of the try line, then Openshaw sent Taher crashing over from short range between the sticks (16-0).

 

The second half was 4 minutes old when Eccles added to the score. Steve Barry sent Taher rampaging through the defense and he popped the ball up out of the tackle to find Foster in support to stroll round the posts for an easy try thatCarney converted (22-0). At this point in the game the nothing but a convincing Eccles victory looked on the cards as theLeeds outfit struggled to find any form, but somehow they clawed their way back into the game. Eccles were stunned on 51 minutes when lively hooker Tom Kent squeezed through a gap 10 metres from the posts to score a try that Cooper converted (22-6), totally against the run of play. It should have been a consolation score for the visitors but it gave them something to play for and the “alarm bells started ringing” for Eccles on 65 minutes. Bradley Lonsdale pulled off a try saving tackle after a Stanningley player had intercepted a pass, but it was to no avail as Eccles were still trying to organize their defense when a quick play the ball allowed Kent to go over for his second try with Cooper converting again (22-12).

 

The last 15 minutes were very nerve wrecking for the Eccles supporters as time and again they squandered opportunities to add to their score until finally, with just 3 minutes remaining, they secured the points with a piece of individual brilliance. Forgham took a pass deep in his own half and stepped around a couple of defenders before out pacing the rest of the visiting defenders to go round the post, leaving Carney to add his 4th conversion from 5 attempts (28-12).

 

Team:  Mike Forgham (MoM, 1T), Brad Lonsdale, Andrew Muscat, Mitchell Krog, Mike O’Boyle, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (4G), Payden Candland, Richard Openshaw (1T), Marc Jones, Chad Grant (1T), Kashley Watkins, Chris Smith, Mike Davies, Mike Foster (1T), Adam Taher (1T), Carl Mort.

Saturday 24th March 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

ROCHDALE MAYFIELD 30-36 ECCLES

 

Eccles came away from Rochdale with their first points of the season, but were forced to defend desperately in the last 10 minutes to hold on for the victory. Visions of the previous week where they threw away an 8 point lead in the last 4 minutes came back to haunt Eccles, and this time it could have been even worse because the home side came back from 36-12 with 20 minutes left to get with a converted try of leveling the game, with 10 minutes still to play. The fact that Eccles did hold out for the win though will surely give the side confidence and “lay the ghost of the trip to Egremont”?

 

The first half was a different story with Eccles producing some breathtaking attacking rugby to surge into a big lead that proved to be enough to eventually win the game. They opened the scoring on 7 minutes when Chris Smith and Chad Grant combined to send Mike O’Boyle down the wing and step inside centre Lee Bradley to get the ball down just inside the corner flag. Mike Carney converted brilliantly (6-0), and Carney’s kicking proved vital as he went on to convert 6 goals from 6 attempts.

 

Five minutes later Ben Namulmua thought he had opened the scoring for Mayfield but his effort in the corner was ruled out for a forward pass, then Eccles doubled the lead on 15 minutes. Steve Barry sent a low kick to the in goal andAndrew Muscat pounced to push off Namulmua and score 15 metres from the corner. Carney converted (12-0).

 

Muscat went in for his second try on 21 minutes, cutting inside the full back to score 12 metres from the post after Barryand Richard Openshaw had contrived to put him through a gap, and Carney converted again (18-0). Mayfield got on the scoreboard 5 minutes later though with lively hooker Todd O’Brien “burrowing” his way over next to the post, leaving Aidan Gleeson an easy conversion (18-6).

Eccles opened an 18 point gap at half time with a Carney converted try 6 minutes from the whistle. Muscat was held up over the line and Openshaw sent Taher crashing over 10 metres from the posts (24-4), but Mayfield finished the half on the attack though, forcing Eccles into a goal line drop out when Mike Forgham was tackled in goal in the 37th minute.

 

The second half was only 4 minutes old when Eccles stretched the lead further with Openshaw’s long pass allowingChris Smith to hand off a defender and score 8 metres from the corner. Carney added another difficult conversion (30-6), but Mayfield refused to lie down. They forced another drop out on 47 minutes when Carney caught a kick, but put a foot in touch and then they scored when Matty Moore stretched out of a tackle to get the ball down next to the post on 54 minutes. Gleeson converted a gain (30-12).

Eccles gave themselves more “breathing space” just 4 minutes after the Mayfield score with a great pass fromOpenshaw sending Marc Gilligan through a gap to score half way between the posts and corner. Carney added his 6th conversion (36-12), but Eccles then thought it was game over and the home side had other ideas?

 

Instead of defending the big lead, Eccles continued to through the ball around as if they were needing to score and they paid the price when a loose pass allowed Mayfield possession on the hour and Ian Sampson forced a try 5 metres from the post. Gleeson added the easy conversion (36-18). Mayfield continued to press though and the “alarm bells started ringing” on 66 minutes when a kick to the corner saw Simon Moore scored and change kicker Iuean Higgs converted from the touch line (36-24).

 

Ten minutes from time Eccles were on the attack until another loose pass saw Higgs intercept, and only a try saving tackle from Forgham prevented him from scoring. Eccles were still trying to get back in the line though and after a quick play the ball a fast passing movement across the pitch saw Sampson score his second try in the opposite corner. Higgs converted again from the touch line (36-30) to set up a very nervous last 10 minutes for Eccles, but the defence held firm despite constant pressure from the home side.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham, Mike McGrath, Andrew Muscat (2T), Mitchell Krog, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Steve Barry, Mike Carney (6G), Marc Gilligan (1T), Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Payden Candland, Chad Grant (MoM), Chris Smith (1T), Kashley Watkins (debut), Mike Foster, Mark Thomas, Adam Taher (1T).

Saturday 17th March 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

EGREMONT 34-30 ECCLES

 

Eccles made the long trip to Cumbria to face one of the promotion favourites – Egremont Rangers.  The Cumbrian side have had an unbeaten start to the season in league and Challenge cup, having beaten Premier division sideInceRoseBridge in the last round to set up a tie with professional side Oldham.  Anybody who thought Eccles were only going to make up the numbers though would have been very wrong, because Eccles put in a stunning performance only to have the points snatched from their grasp in the cruelest possible way. Even the Egremont coach, the much respected John Brocklebank, admitted in his after match speech that the best team on the day had lost!

 

Egremont opened the scoring after only 4 minutes when Kieran Glenn broke from his own half and displayed great pace and a fine side step to score between the sticks, leaving Matthew Brewsher an easy conversion (0-6). Visions of Eccles’ last visit to Gilfoot park, a 0-70 defeat looked to be haunting them again, but this was a more confident Eccles team than the one that was humbled on that day.

 

On 13 minutes Andrew Muscat applied pressure to a low kick to the in goal from Steve Barry, forcing the home side into a goal line drop out, and a minute later Mike O’Boyle was held up close to the line, then Richard Openshawpassed for Chris Smith to shrug off a defender and score 15 metres from the corner.  Mike Carney’s conversion tied the scores at 6-6, but Rangers hit back immediately when a kind bounce from the kick off allowed them to keep possession and 6 tackles later Daniel Telford dived low from dummy half to score 10 metres from the post, although somehow, Brewsher put the easy looking kick wide (6-10).

 

Eccles dominated the rest of the half and took the lead for the first time on 27 minutes. Man of the match Mike Forghamkicked the ball low through the defence and re-gathered before popping the ball up out of the tackle for Payden Candland to go round the posts leaving Carney an easy conversion (12-10).  Forgham was also the architect of the try that gave Eccles an 18-10 half time lead when he broke through the line on 36 minutes and off loaded out of the tackle again to send debutant, and fellow Aussie, Mitch Krog over in the corner.   Carney converted brilliantly.

 

Eccles carried on the second period as they had ended the first, dominating the play, and they forced a second goal line drop out on 48 minutes when Forgham made a tackle in goal after Openshaw kicked through. Once again they made the pressure tell with Barry putting another Aussie – Chad Grant through a gap for a try 12 metres from the post thatCarney again converted (24-10).  At this point Eccles looked in total control, but Egremont are not promotion favourites for nothing.

 

On 53 minutes a kick to the corner by Glenn found Ryan Barnes in space and the winger scored wide out. Brewsher made up for his earlier miss by converting from the touch line (24-16).  Eccles were under the cosh now and Barry tried to relieve the pressure on the hour with a long distance drop goal attempt that went narrowly wide and then, up popped Brewsher again on 68 minutes, squeezing through a gap to score a try that he also converted again from a tight angle (24-22).

 

Eccles battled bravely to hold onto the slender lead, then, on 76 minutes Grant made a great break before Openshawsent Muscat over for a try just inside the corner flag.  Carney’s brilliant kick gave him a 100% record on the day (30-22) and at 8 points up with 4 minutes to go that should have been game over, but credit has to go to the home side for their final effort in a frantic finish.  Again Rangers retained the ball from the kick off and they kept the ball alive for Paul Corkhill to stretch out and get the ball down next to the post, leaving Brewsher an easy conversion (30-28). There was time for one more set of six for Rangers and at the end of that set Glenn just managed to free his ball carrying arm from a tackle touch down on the line. Brewsher converted (30-34) and that was game over. The referee explained that he had 9 seconds left with Rangers scored the winner!

 

Team:  Mike Forgham (MoM), Mitch Krog (1T, debut), Andrew Muscat (1T), Mike O’Boyle, Martin Judge, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (5G), Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Mike Foster, Payden Candland (1T), Marc Jones, Chris Smith (1T), Brad Lonsdale, Mike Davies, Chad Grant (1T), Adam Taher.

Saturday, 3rd March, 2012

National Conference Division 1

 

CASTLEFORD LOCK LANE 28-6 ECCLES

 

Once again Eccles were kept scoreless in the second half as they went down to defeat in the opening game of the league programme.  Just like at Blackbrook in the preliminary round of the RL Challenge Cup, Eccles played better than the scoreline suggests, but let in some soft tries to flatter the host team.   With scrum half Mike Carney out with a shoulder injury Mike Davies was forced to fill in at seven, but he too was lost to injury after half an hour. Without a recognized scrum half on the pitch it was always going to a tough task for the visitors.

 

Not many teams win at Lock Lane, but Eccles felt they were hard done by with the referee allowing 3 dubious tries for the home side, although he got no help at all from his touch judges. All three missed a knock on in the build up to their equalizing try and passes in two of the second half tries appeared to be well forward, although the official had ruled out two home tries in the first half. Eccles also led the penalty count 5-4 at half time but fell foul of the referee in the second period to lose the count 7-9.

 

The game was only two minutes old when Eccles were awarded a penalty for a high tackle. It was a long way out, straight in front of the posts, but Davies’ kick fell short of the target. Five minutes later Lock Lane’s Adam Garlick went over in the corner, only to have the try disallowed for a forward pass, and it was Eccles who took the lead on 15 minutes. Mike Foster was stopped just short of the try line and man of the match Richard Openshaw dived over from dummy half 10 metres from the sticks, leaving Davies an easy conversion (6-0).

 

Lock Lane thought they had scored on 18 minutes when James Cryer went over in the corner, but the referee ruled that he had dropped the ball. The scores were leveled on 25 minutes though when Eccles were sucked into the middle and Danny Rowse picked up a loose ball and sent a long pass wide for Garlick to score in the corner. Rowse added a brilliant conversion (6-6), and that is how it remained to half time.

 

Lock Lane took control of the game early in the second half with two converted tries in three minutes. The first came on 46 minutes with another long pass from Rowse putting Garlick in for his second try and Rowse once again converting from the touch line (6-12). Rowse had a much easier conversion soon after when the Eccles defence caved in and Nicky Saxton strolled over between the posts (6-18).

 

On 62 minutes Rowse was sin binned for talking out of turn to the referee and Eccles sensed a chance, going all out on attack. Openshaw was convinced he had forced the ball down for a try on 64 minutes, but the visitors were left frustrated when the official ruled no try and gave a penalty to Eccles! As Eccles pushed forward to get back into the game they were left exposed at the back and even with a man down Lock lane put the game out of reach Wayne Hardy scoring a long distance try. With Rowse off the pitch Hardy took the kick himself but missed the target (6-22).

 

Lock Lane ensured the points on 71 minutes with Saxton taking advantage of some weak defending to score his second try, again converted by Rowse (6-28), but Rowse missed with a penalty shot from the half way line on 74 minutes and that proved to be the last action of the game.

 

Team:  Mike Forgham, Mike McGrath, Andrew Muscat, Mike O’Boyle, Martin Judge, Steve Barry, Mike Davies (1G), Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw (1T, MoM), Mike Foster, Payden Candland, Marc Jones, Chris Smith, Chad Grant (debut), Adam Taher, Adam Walker, Carl Mort.

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