MATCH REPORTS NCL 2013 DIVISION 2

Saturday 19th October 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

EAST LEEDS 56-6 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

For the last game of a long, hard season Eccles were only able to muster 16 players for the daunting trip across the Pennines to face champions elect East Leeds, after Mark Thomas and Jordan Parker were added to the injury list. The Salford club gave everything they had in a game which meant very little to them in terms of league positions but this was always going to be the home teams’ day as the much physically bigger Yorkshire side celebrated promotion to the premier league in style. 

 

Eccles actually were the better team in the first quarter of the game and they gave notice that they were not there just to make up the numbers after just 7 minutes when Eze Harper chased a high kick from Chris Scanlan to force a goal line drop out, panicking the full back into kicking the ball dead. They suffered a major blow however, on 14 minutes, when they lost influential Aussie half back Chris Scanlan with a serious rib injury, but even that did not stop Eccles taking the lead 3 minutes later. Mike Carney kicked on the last tackle and Mike McGrath won the chase to retrieve the ball and score. Carney added the conversion (6-0) but that score only served as a wake-up call to the home side.

 

On 24 minutes Ryan Gaunt broke down the wing and passed inside for Mark Greenwood to score between the sticks, leaving Nathan Conroy an easy conversion (6-6) and 3 minutes later East Leeds hit the front when quick hands across the pitch created an overlap where David Nurse passed for Ross Meston scored in the corner, although too far out for Conroy to convert (6-10). Conroy did add another conversion before the break however after Nurse again provided the telling pass for Dec Tomlinson to score (6-16). 

 

Eccles managed to hold out against a relentless onslaught for 11 minutes of the second half, but after man of the match Ben Walkin burst through to score and Conroy added another conversion (6-22) the “floodgates opened” and the Yorkshire side went on to score 6 more tries in the final 21 minutes, with Conroy converting 5 of them.  On 59 minutes Joey Walkin benefitted from Eccles spilling the ball (6-28) then Lee Fisher scooted over in the corner on 63 minutes (6-34) and another overlap on 67 minutes saw Jack Norfolk score a unconverted try wide out (6-38). Jordan Normington scored in the corner on 70 minutes (6-44) and 2 minutes later a good break from Fisher enabled Greenwood to go over for his second try (6-50) before, finally, James Forsell became the home teams ninth different try scorer on 75 minutes (6-56).

 

Hooker Richard Openshaw took the Eccles’ man of the match award, his 10th of the season, but there were also top performances from young centre Harper and prop forward Danny Trimble.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Eze Harper, Tom Pratt, Mike McGrath (1T), Chris Scanlan, Mike Carney (1G), Danny Trimble, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Martin Judge, Chris Smith, Simon Brown, Mike Foster, Alan Wands.

Saturday 12th October 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 30-36 WIGAN ST. JUDES

 

Wigan St. Judes won promotion to the NCL premier division with a hard fought victory over Eccles, but home coach Paul Viller was rightly proud of his players as they all gave 100%, and only for a bad spell in the third quarter where a couple of questionable decisions cost Eccles dearly, they could well have gone on to produce a shock victory. Eccles are safe from relegation this season with one game left to play but they played this game like they were playing for their lives.

 

The game was only 3 minutes old when Shaun Ainscough broke from half way and cut inside to score the opening try for the visitors and Gareth Thomas converted (0-6), but Eccles drew level on 18 minutes when their man of the match Richard Openshaw dived in low from dummy half for a try that Mike Carney converted (6-6).

           

On 23 minutes Eccles had Eze Harper sin binned for holding down, but rather than sit back and defend they continued to attack and on 23 minutes they forced a goal line drop out with Carney and Andrew Muscat tackling full back Barry Rothwell in goal. From that drop out Eccles piled forward and Mark Thomas forced his way over between the sticks. Carney added the second of his 5 conversions from 5 attempts (12-6) but it was the visitors who went in with a half time advantage scoring 2 Thomas converted tries in 2 minutes. The first came on 34 minutes when a long pass allowed Ryan Pendleton to scoot in at the corner (12-12), then, a break from half way was finished off by Ollidelle (12-18).

           

St. Judes forced a drop out on 45 minutes when Carney was called on to kick the ball to safety, although, 4 minutes later, Jordan Parker forced a drop out at the other end, tackling Dean Hunt in goal, but St. Judes stretched their lead with an element of good fortune. Gareth Thomas scored in the corner off what looked like a forward pass on 54 minutes and added the conversion (12-24) as he did to Darryl Kings’ try 3 minutes later after the official missed a knock on in the build up (12-30).

           

Just after the hour St. Judes were awarded a long distance penalty, given for “crossing” and Thomas converted again (12-32), but Eccles never gave in and were rewarded on 65 minutes when Parker collected a high kick from Carney to score a try that Carney converted (18-32).

           

The visitors secured the victory on 68 minutes with their man of the match Rothwell breaking from half way for a fine individual try in the corner and for the first time on the day Thomas missed the conversion, his shot hitting the crossbar (18-36). Again Eccles refused to lie down though and they finished with 2 Carney converted tries in the last 3 minutes. First Parker scored between the sticks for his second try (24-36) and then Eze Harper collected a high kick from Openshaw before racing to the try line (30-36). With 5 minutes more Eccles may have snatched a draw but the final whistle was blown as the conversion sailed through the posts.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Eze Harper (1T), Tom Pratt, Mike McGrath, Chris Scanlan, Mike Carney (5G), Danny Trimble, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Martin Judge, Chris Smith, Simon Brown, Jordan Parker (2T), Alan Wands, Mark Thomas (1T).

Saturday 28th September 2013

National Conference League Division 1

 

HUNSLET WARRIORS 42-16 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

A 16-42 defeat sounds like a right mauling, but in truth, that was not the case. Hunslet were fully deserving of the victory that, barring a couple of freak results, will see them promoted to the premier division, after taking their chances well against Eccles, but the result in no way reflects the effort that was put in by an Eccles side that travelled with just 16 fit players.

 

Eccles got off to a flying start and on 4 minutes a cross field kick from Mike Carney was collected by Christian Higgins who carried the ball well before sending Jordan Parker over for the opening try which Carney also converted (6-0).   Then, on 15 minutes, Carney intercepted a loose pass and raced 65 metres to score a try which he also converted (12-0).

 

Warriors drew level with 2 tries in 3 minutes however, although the first should have been chalked off for a knock on. That try came on 20 minutes when a kick to the corner saw Jake Corney score unopposed and man of the match Gary McClelland, who went on to convert all 7 tries, scored brilliantly from the touch line (12-6). McClelland then scored himself when he backed up Luke Pennington’s break across the half way line (12-12).

           

On 29 minutes Warriors forced a goal line drop out when Chris Scanlan was “gang tackled” back behind the line and 7 minutes later they took the lead when McClelland struggled out of a tackle to stretch over the line (12-18). Eccles were matching their hosts in the first half though and when Warriors were given a penalty on the half way line right on half time they elected to go for goal, but McClelland recorded his only miss of the afternoon.

 

The contest remained evenly matched at the start of the second half and after 9 minutes a great passing move involving Carney and Scanlan was finished off by Eze Harper although too far out for Carney to convert (16-18).  Eccles looked at this point like they could get something out of the game but a series of harsh penalties kept them under pressure and on 56 minutes Mark Cunningham broke through the defence to score (16-24).

 

McClelland squeezed through a gap to record his hat trick on 61 minutes (16-30), but Eccles fought hard to get back into the game until 2 converted tries in the last 4 minutes gave the score a very lopsided look. On 76 Luke Pennington scored a fine individual try next to the posts then, after Mark Thomas and Warriors’ Brad Gill were sent off for trading punches, Warriors settled quicker and Johnny Dawson broke through some weak tackles to put the icing on the home teams cake (16-42).

 

Team: Andrew Muscat, Mike McGrath, Eze Harper (1T), Tom Pratt, Christian Higgins, Jordan Parker (1T), Mike Carney (1T, 2G), Marc Jones, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Mark Thomas, Chris Scanlan, Martin Judge, Chris Smith, Danny Trimble, Mike Foster, Adam Walker.

Saturday 7th September, 2013

National Conference Division §

 

OULTON RAIDERS 60-10 ECCLES

 

Eccles were forced to make changes again with Carl Mort, Ben Connor and Ben Wheeler unavailable, but the under 18’s centre pairing of Tom Pratt and Eze Harper didn’t let anybody down as replacements despite a big defeat, which leaves Eccles still fighting against relegation. There was no lack of effort from the Eccles team though, and the big defeat was down purely to the fact that Oulton, who by their own admission fielded their strongest side of the season, were simply outstanding. The Leeds outfit are something of a hoodoo to Eccles anyhow with Eccles still looking for a first victory after 9 meetings now, and Oulton have scored 112 points against Eccles in 2 games this season.

 

Eccles should have taken the lead when impressive stand off Jordan Parker chased his own high kick and passed wide for Andrew Muscat, who had a clear run to the line but could not take the pass in, then, the home side broke the deadlock on 11 minutes. Danny Stanley, who was the most impressive player on the pitch, squeezed through a gap to score a try that Scottish international Jamie Benn converted (0-6). 4 minutes later the lead was doubled when Danny Stanley sent Danny Hardy over and Benn converted again  (0-12).
 

From the restart Mike Carney’s kick off was knocked on behind the line, but Eccles were not able to take advantage of possession from the goal line drop out, and Oulton went on to take a 30-0 half time lead. On 24 minutes Tommy Griffiths “danced” through to score and Benn improved again (0-18) then Benn added his 4th conversion on 33 minutes when Scott McDonald latched onto a “dab” to the in goal by Andy Tillet (0-24). Finally, as the half time whistle was about to be blown, Griffiths latched onto a dropped ball and raced 55 metres for a try that change kicker Danny Stanley converted (0-30).

 

4 minutes into the second half Nathan Batty off loaded out of a tackle for Griffiths to complete his hat trick and Danny Stanley converted (0-36) as he did again just 2 minutes later after Griffiths returned the compliment sending Batty across the try line (0-42).

 

Eccles finally opened their account on 50 minutes when Muscat and Chris Scanlan combined to send Christian Higgins over in the corner where the angle was too tight for Carney to convert (4-42), but Oulton kicker Danny Stanley made it 4 goals from 4 attempts after James Cruickshank forced his way over on 61 minutes (4-48). Eccles rallied again however and Muscat retained possession from the restart and made a strong run before Carney sent Eccles’ man of the match Mike O’Boyle over, and this time Carney added the conversion (10-48).

 

Oulton’s original kicker Benn returned to the fray and he also finished the game with a 100% kicking record of 6 out of 6 as the Raiders scored twice more in the final 5 minutes. Danny Hardy off loaded for McDonald to kick on and score in the corner for his second try (10-54), then Danny Stanley started a move involving his brother Rob and fullback Tillet, who could have scored himself, but unselfishly handed the ball on for “evergreen” forward Sasch Brook to add the finishing touch (10-60).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Martin Judge, Eze Harper, Tom Pratt, Christian Higgins (1T), Jordan Parker, Mike Carney (1G), Marc Jones, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle (1T, MoM), Chris Scanlan, Chris Smith, Danny Trimble, Steve Barry, Alan Wands, Mike Foster.

Saturday 31st August 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 34-18 SADDLEWORTH RANGERS

 

Eccles recorded a “double” over Saddleworth Rangers with a brilliant first half attacking display, and equally good second half defensive stint. Victory gave Eccles a 7 point lead over the Oldham club who are in the relegation zone. Eccles moved up to 8th in the table and should have enough points now to beat the drop but it could still be a nervous end to the season as the last 4 games are all against sides who are chasing promotion.

 

The game was only 2 minutes old when Chris Scanlan sent a high kick to the defensive line and Martin Judge knocked the ball back for Andrew Muscat to score in the corner. Mike Carney tagged on a brilliant kick (6-0) and Carney also converted again when Eccles doubled the lead on 6 minutes. Man of the match Jordan Parker swooped onto a loose ball and passed to Richard Openshaw who sent Joe Connor crashing over (12-0).

 

Any ideas that the game would be a “walk over” though were dispelled when Rangers came up with 2 tries in 6 minutes themselves, the second effort converted by Michael Coates. Marlon Miller stretched out to score the first in the corner (12-4) on 11 minutes, then a long pass allowed David Hewitt to score in the same corner (12-10).

 

From the re-start Rangers knocked on and Eccles took advantage 2 minutes later when Openshaw scampered over from dummy half. This time Carney missed the conversion (16-10), but then Eccles “switched off” for the Rangers re-start and allowed the ball to go dead, conceding a goal line drop out. Rangers failed to take full advantage of the possession though and when they were awarded a penalty for “ripping” at the end of the set Coates elected to kick the goal (16-12).

 

On 29 minutes a clever low kick to the wing by Parker was taken on the full by Ben Wheeler who beat the winger to score a try that Carney converted (22-12) and Carney converted again, 3 minutes later after he put a high kick into the Rangers defence and Connor palmed it back for Scanlan to score (28-12), but Rangers had the last say of the half when Ryan Moores scored between the sticks and Coates converted in the dying seconds (28-18).

 

Both defences tightened up in the second half and chances were few and far between. In the first minute of the second period Eccles were awarded a penalty for holding down and Carney converted it (30-18).

 

The closest Rangers came to scoring again came on 51 minutes when they forced another drop out with Parker being called on to knock the ball dead, but Eccles responded on the hour by forcing a drop out of their own when Marc Jones, Scanlan and Mike Foster gang tackled a Rangers defender back over his defensive line.

 

The only try of the second half came on 66 minutes when Openshaw and Parker combined to send Wheeler over for his second try, albeit too far out for Carney to convert (28-18) and try as they did, neither side was able to breach the opposition defence again.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T), Martin Judge, Chris Scanlan (1T), Joe Connor (1T), Ben Wheeler (2T), Jordan Parker (MoM), Mike Carney (5G), Carl Mort, Richard Openshaw (1T), Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith, Christian Higgins, Marc Jones, Tom Pratt, Mike Foster.

Saturday 17th August 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

MILFORD MARLINS 28-20 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

           

Eccles were again forced to make 5 changes from the previous week but they can be really proud of their effort at promotion chasing Milford. The Leeds club completed a league double over the Salford side but they breathed a huge sigh of relief at the end, knowing that Eccles had matched them all the way, and with a little bit of luck Eccles could have won the game.

 

The home team had a dream start, taking advantage of an Eccles knock on and some weak defending when the game was just 2 minutes old to score a try through Sam Hood, although too far out for Martin Loveridge to convert (0-4). Milford went on to throw everything at Eccles in the opening quarter yet it was Eccles who led at the end of that period when Mike Carney made a break on 18 minutes, then Jordan Parker was stopped just short before man of the match Richard Openshaw dived over from dummy half and Carney added the extras (6-4). Carney also added a penalty goal on 25 minutes when Milford were Pulled for obstruction (8-4) and that proved to be the last score of the first half.

 

On 47 minutes Milford’s stand out player Ryan Oxtoby sold an outrageous dummy to score a try that Loveridge converted (8-10), but from the re-start Carney’s kick was allowed to bounce dead meaning Eccles would regain possession from a goal line drop out. Two minutes later Carney sent a chip over the defence to the in goal where Christian Higgins outjumped the defenders to collect the ball and touch down. Carney converted (14-10) but Eccles’ lead only lasted 5 minutes as John Elkington forced a try 5 metres from the post, leaving Loveridge an easy kick (14-16).

           

The Leeds outfit extended their lead on 68 minutes when James Coates scampered over between the sticks and Loveridge converted (14-22), but it was a try that left the Eccles team seething. A touch judge alerted the referee that there was a forward pass in the build up to Coates’ try but the referee over ruled him.

 

Milford threatened again on 72 minutes when a cross field kick looked likely to yield a try for the winger but young Tom Pratt managed to get a hand to the ball to knock it dead and concede a drop out. It was only a short lived respite for Eccles though as James Barker forced his way over for the match clinching try 3 minutes later and Loveridge again converted (14-28). That score was cruel on Eccles who did not deserve to be so far behind, but they did get a consolation for not giving in with a injury time score. Pratt sent Ben Wheeler over in the corner and Carney added a brilliant conversion (20-28) but there was no time left to trouble the scoreboard again.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Mike McGrath, Chris Scanlan, Tom Pratt, Ben Wheeler (1T), Jordan Parker, Mike Carney (4G), Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw (1T, MoM), Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith, Christian Higgins (1T), Martin Judge, Adam Taher, Marc Jones.

Saturday 10th August 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

MILLOM 30-36 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 36

 

Eccles were forced to make 6 changes for the long trip to Cumbria with Andrew Muscat and Bradley Lonsdale (on Holiday), Joe Connor and Ben Wheeler (working), Carl Mort (wedding) and Marc Gilligan (injured) all unavailable, but coach Paul Viller will have a real selection headache now because the team produced a stunning fight back from 12 points down with 15 minutes to go to win the game. Two of the replacements also played starring roles as well with first team debutant Jordan Parker, a recent signing from Folly Lane, scoring the winning try, and Mike Carney, who returned this week from a year in Australia picking up the man of the match award. Carney’s goal kicking also proved to be the difference between the team in this relegation “dogfight” as the team scored 6 tries each.

 

The game was only 3 minutes old when Carney chased his own high kick to re-gather when a defender dropped the ball and score between the sticks to leave himself an easy conversion (6-0) but Carney then dropped the ball behind the line from the re-start to concede a goal line drop out. Eccles survived that, but on 9 minutes Millom capitalized on an Eccles knock on with a try in the corner from Joseph Moyes, albeit too far out for Ross Brookes to convert (6-4).

           

Eccles conceded another drop out on 14 minutes when a defender touched a chip over the defence by Marcus O’Brien before it went dead and this time Adam Kelly dummied to pass then scored the try that gave the home side the lead. Brookes converted (6-10) but failed to convert the try that took Millom further ahead on 21 minutes when O’ Brien broke the defensive line and sent Jordan Moyes over for a try in the corner (6-14).

           

On 25 minutes a “slick” cross field passing movement involving Carney, Chris Smith and Mike Mills was finished off in the corner by Mike McGrath. Carney was very unlucky with the difficult conversion attempt (10-14), his only miss of the day. Then, on 29 minutes Eccles thought they had levelled the scores when Louis Taylor jumped highest to collect an attacking kick and Steve Barry combined with Mills to send McGrath over again, but a touch judge intervened and ruled that Taylor was off side.

           

Millom had a try disallowed themselves 2 minutes later when Jordan Moyes was denied his second try for a forward pass. Millom did increase the lead however, with a mixture of luck and bad judgement from Eccles. The first half had moved into injury time when Eccles were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but they elected to run it and lost possession to O’Brien who broke away and was tackled by Taylor but managed to off load for Joseph Moyes to score his second try 12 metres from the corner. This time Brookes added a difficult conversion (10-20).

           

Eccles came out strong for the second half and on 48 minutes Carney and Barry carved out an opening for Mike O’Boyle to score. Carney converted (16-20) and when Eccles were again given an opportunity to reduce the deficit to 2 points with a penalty on 52 minutes Carney took it (18-20).

           

Millom hit back with 2 tries, the first converted by Brookes, in 3 minutes, starting in the 56th minute. A high kick was spilled by Taylor, unfortunately, straight into the arms of Joseph Moyes who had a clear run to the line to record his hat trick (18-26). The second try also came from a high kick but this time it was a lucky bounce that confused the visiting defence and Lee Edmondson scored (18-30).

           

On 65 minutes Carney sent Danny Trimble charging over wide out and Carney also added a tough kick to give Eccles belief that the game was not yet over (24-30), and sure enough it was a Carney pass again, on 73 minutes, that enabled Marc Jones to crash over for Eccles. Again it was a difficult conversion and again Carney was up to the job (30-30).

           

A second successive draw looked on the cards but lively hooker Richard Openshaw had other ideas and he broke through defensive line with just a minute to the whistle and made good ground before sending Parker over just 8 metres from the corner. Carney’s kick was true again and ensured that Eccles would not be going home empty handed (36-30).

 

Team:  Louis Taylor, Mike McGrath (1T), Mike Mills, Tom Pratt, Christian Higgins, Steve Barry, Mike Carney (1T, 6G, MoM), Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Danny Trimble (1T), Chris Smith, Jordan Parker (1T), Marc Jones (1T), Martin Davidson, Alan Wands.

Saturday 3rd August 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 24-24 STANLEY RANGERS

 

A mixture of bad luck and poor defending again cost Eccles dearly as they were held to a draw at home by bottom club Stanley Rangers, leaving them still very much in a battle against relegation.

           

Eccles lost Marc Gilligan to injury after only 8 minutes and 2 minutes after that the visitors took the lead with a Joel Marsh try, although Billy Griffiths was unable to add the conversion (0-4). Eccles responded immediately though and on 14 minutes Louis Taylor chased Steve Barry’s  low kick to score in the corner and Andrew Muscat added a good conversion (6-4). There were no further scores until 32 minutes when a speculative kick bounced badly to wrong foot the Eccles defense and Sam Rothery swooped to score and leave Griffiths an easy conversion (6-10).   Eccles levelled the scores 2 minutes from the whistle however when man of the match Richard Openshaw exchanged passes with Barry before finding Mike Mills who sent Ben Wheeler over in the corner.   Muscat made a good attempt with the conversion but unluckily watched his kick hit the post (10-10).

           

Five minutes into the second half Openshaw dummied to pass and shot through a gap to score, although the angle was too tight for Muscat to convert (14-10) and it was a good break form Openshaw on 51 minutes that led to Mike O’Boyle sending Taylor over in the corner for his second try, although again, too far out for Muscat to convert (18-10). Muscat did improve the next try though when Openshaw scampered over again from dummy half on 57 minutes (24-10).

           

On the hour Stanley’s Liam Crawley struggled out of a tackle to score a unconverted try wide out (24-14) and from that moment on anything that could go wrong for Eccles did! On 64 minutes Eccles thought they had secured the points Openshaw was stopped just short and Barry sent Christian Higgins crashing over only for the try to be ruled out on the intervention of a touch judge. To make matters worse, 3 minutes later, Joel Marsh broke the line and raced 70 metres for an unconverted try in the corner, despite a great effort from Muscat to chase back (24-18).

           

Eccles were awarded a penalty on 74 minutes for a high tackle on Higgins but Muscat again watched as his shot agonizingly bounced back off the near post. On 76 minutes Mark Thomas was sin binned for holding down and Stanley took advantage of the extra man a minute later with James Senkiw scoring a try that Griffiths converted (24-24).

           

Despite being a man down Eccles battled frantically for the winning score but it did not materialize. On 78 minutes Eccles forced a goal line drop out when Joe Connor made a tackle in goal and Barry watched his drop goal attempt sail just wide as the home side just ran out of time.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (2G), Louis Taylor (2T), Mike Mills, Joe Connor, Ben Wheeler (1T),

Steve Barry, Bradley Lonsdale, Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw (2T, MoM), Carl Mort, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith, Christian Higgins, Mike Foster, Alan Wands, Mark Thomas.

Saturday 27th July 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

DEWSBURY CELTIC 48-SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 28

 

Scoring 28 points away from home seems like a great effort, and in many cases it would be enough to win a game, but on this occasion all Eccles’ attacking endeavour was in vain because their defending was simply woeful! Losing influential scrum half Chris Scanlan to a serious injury the previous week did not help, but they did welcome back Mark Thomas from a trial period with Swinton RLFC and they had top performances from man of the match Richard Openshaw and winger Christian Higgins.

 

 It all started so well for Eccles and they were in charge of the game. On 3 minutes Mike Mills sent a high kick to the corner where Joe Connor knocked it down for Higgins to score, but the referee was unsure, and after consulting a touch judge he ruled the try out for off side. Eccles continued to press forward though until a long pass on 7 minutes was intercepted by Adam Egan who raced 95 metres for the first try. Pat Foulstone missed the conversion attempt (0-4) and it proved to be an off day for goal kickers as Eccles managed 2 only 2 from 6 attempts and Celtic scored 4 from 10 attempts.

 

Celtic doubled their advantage on 11 minutes when man of the match Danny Stanley scored an unconverted try in the corner (0-8) only for Eccles to reply 5 minutes later. Steve Barry’s low kick was picked up by Andrew Muscat and after he was tackled close to the line Higgins dummied to pass and went over for his first try. Mills missed the kick (4-8) and the home side increased the lead again on 20 minutes. This time Mike Foulstone scored in the corner and again his brother – Pat failed to convert (4-12).

 

On 26 minutes Openshaw pushed his way over the line from dummy half on the last tackle and Mills’ conversion saw Eccles just 2 points behind (10-12) but they suffered a total collapse to concede 3 tries in the last 5 minutes of the first half. On 35 minutes Egan “danced” through the defence for his second try, which change kicker Anthony Dunford failed to convert (10-16), but a third kicker – James Eatherley managed to convert the first of the next 2 tries. Egan went over for his hat trick after chasing a chip over the defence from Thomas (10-22) and right on the whistle Mike Foulstone hacked a loose ball down the wing for Stanley to score his second try, albeit with the Eccles crowd insisting he knocked on before putting the ball down (10-26).

           

Eccles started the second period as they had finished the first and they allowed the kick off to go dead, conceding a goal line drop out from which Ban Hardacre scored and Eatherley converted (10-32). They gave themselves some hope though on 50 minutes when a long pass from Barry allowed Bradley Lonsdale to score in the corner, too far out for Mills to improve (14-32), but it was short lived hope Pat Foulstone stole the ball one on one to score on 53 minutes (14-36) and Thomas sent Bartly O’Brien over on 56 minutes with Eatherley converting the second effort (14-42).

           

On 63 minutes Pat Foulstone scampered over and Eatherley converted (14-48), but amazingly Eccles kept the home side out for the last 17 minutes and similarly to the previous week went on to make the score look more respectable. On 70 minutes Openshaw’s pass saw Higgins “step” the winger and score his second try, although again the angle was too tight for Mills to convert (18-48), but Mills did improve the final try on 74 minutes when Chris Smith forced the ball down after a strong drive by Marc Jones (28-48). Eccles also forced the home side into a goal line drop but again it was all too late as there was no time left to take it.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Mike McGrath (1T), Bradley Lonsdale (1T), Joe Connor, Christian Higgins (2T), Steve Barry, Mike Mills (2G), Alan Wands, Richard Openshaw (1T, MoM), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith (1T), Mike Foster, Marc Gilligan, Tom Pratt, Mark Thomas

Friday 19th July 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 20-28 ROCHDALE MAYFIELD

 

Eccles are still involved in a battle to avoid relegation after they paid the price for some poor defending against mid table Rochdale Mayfield. Eccles created lots of chances and had their far share of possession, and they actually finished the game much stronger than their opponents, but they just ran out of a time. Mayfield, looking to avenge a home defeat to Eccles earlier in the season, were first to settle down and they built up a 20 point lead, courtesy of some weak defending, that they managed to hold onto despite Eccles’ best efforts in the last quarter.

 

The game was only 4 minutes old when Lewis Sherridan broke down the wing and cut inside to score next to the posts. Sherridan also added the conversion (0-6) but Eccles responded immediately. On 9 minutes Steve Barry’s kick to the in goal was chased by Andrew Muscat and Paul Brierly was forced to knock the ball dead to concede a goal line drop out. This led to Richard Openshaw scooting over for Eccles’ opening try, although Muscat’s conversion attempt unluckily bounced back off a post (4-6).

 

Eccles forced a second drop out on 14 minutes when Joe Connor made a tackle in goal after another clever kick from Barry, and on 25 minutes Eccles thought they had taken the lead when Chris Scanlan sent Bradley Lonsdale over the whitewash, only for the effort to be ruled out for a forward pass on the intervention of the touch judge. Mayfield took advantage of their good fortune and 2 minutes later Eccles were stunned as Brierley went over at the other end and Sherridan converted (4-12). That was the first of 3 tries in 5 minutes although it was Eccles who scored next, on 29 minutes, when another kick from Barry bounced off a defenders shin to gift Scanlan a try. Muscat was unable to add the extras again (8-12) but Mayfield kicker Sherridan was more accurate after more bad defending allowed Liam Whalley to struggle out of a tackle to score on 32 minutes (8-18).

 

Eccles finished the first half on the attack and they forced a third goal line drop out off another Barry kick when debutant Ben Wheeler  tackled winger Ben Namultua in goal, but Eccles were unable to capitalize on their possession and Mayfield hit them with 2 tries, the first converted by Sherridan, in 2 minutes, 5 minutes into the second half. Sloppy tackling allowed Brierley to dance through for his second try (8-24) then Namultua popped up to score in the corner (8-28).  Eccles were unfortunate to lose influential Australian scrum half, Chris Scanlan early in the second half, with a bad head injury that required 8 stitches

           

To their credit, Eccles shored up the defence and didn’t allow Mayfield any more points and they gave themselves some hope on 63 minutes when Chrsitian Higgins made a strong run and Barry through a long pass out for Connor to score. Change kicker Mike Mills tagged on the goal (14-28) and Mills also improved his own try, 4 minutes from time after he scores off a great pass from Marc Gilligan (20-28) but it was all too little too late for Eccles by then.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Ben Wheeler, Mike Mills (1T, 2G), Joe Connor (1T), Martin Judge, Steve Barry, Chris Scanlan (1T), Alan Wands (MoM), Richard Openshaw (1T), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Bradley Lonsdale, Chris Smith, Danny Trimble, Christian Higgins, Mike Foster, Marc Gilligan.

6th July 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SADDLEWORTH RANGERS 16-18 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

Eccles snatched victory in this vital battle to avoid relegation with a conversion in the 5th minute of injury time, and at times, it has to be said that Eccles played like they were determined to lose the game! It was an evenly matched game and a draw would have been a fair result, but as the game went into the final minutes the home side were winning courtesy of 2 dubious penalties, and had it stayed that way, it would have been harsh on the Salford side.

 

Eccles were forced to make changes with Danny Trimble, Chris Scanlan and Andrew Muscat unavailable from the previous game. Influential scrum half Scanlan was called back to Australia after a family bereavement and was replaced by under 18’s player Eze Harper, while Joe Connor returned and, with Muscat away representing Malta Kiwi Louis Taylor moved to full back where his brace of tries earned him the man of the match award. Martin Davidson also made his first team debut.

 

Eccles had the worst possible start when they should have retrieved the ball after they kicked off and it bounced back to them, but they failed to take control and Josh Bradbury swooped to break for the home side. Connor brought him down with a try saving tackle but to no avail as James Whalley went on to open the scoring for Rangers and Michael Coates converted (0-6). Coates added a penalty on 11 minutes when a touch judge harshly ruled that Eccles had obstructed a home player (0-8).

 

On 29 minutes the Eccles bench was incensed when a touch judge entered the field again. Two players collided accidentally after a Rangers man released the ball, but again a penalty was awarded for obstruction and again Coates converted (0-10). This injustice however, goaded Eccles into action and 5 minutes later Connor sent Taylor through a gap and he exchanged passes with Mike McGrath before scoring wide out, too far out for Mike Mills to convert (4-10), but Mills made up for his miss by converting a penalty, given for a high tackle, a minute from the break (6-10).      

 

The second half started with Eccles again not dealing with a kick off, allowing the ball to go dead and conceding a goal line drop out. They kept the home side out though and broke away themselves on 45 minutes with Taylor breaking from his own half, down the wing, and stepping full back Gavin Dodd to score in the corner. This time Mills added a great conversion to give Eccles the lead for the first time (12-10), but yet again they allowed the ball to go dead from the re-start to concede another drop out.

 

On 56 minutes Saddleworth scrum half Bradbury came up with the try of the game as he dabbed a clever kick behind the sticks, on the last tackle, and followed up to score, leaving Coates an easy conversion (12-16). After that it was “six of one and half a dozen of the other” as both sides tried hard to break each other down. It was obviously going to be a tight game and on the hour sub Danny Attersall tried to nudge Rangers further ahead with a drop goal but was off target.

           

On 74 minutes the game boiled over and resulted in Marc Gilligan along with Rangers’ Simon Parrish getting sin binned for fighting. It looked then like Eccles, who had wasted a host of chances, would just run out of time, but right at the end of the time added on to sort out the melee’ Connor offloaded out of the tackle, close to the try line and Marc Jones went over next to the post to level the scores. As Mills kicked the winning conversion (18-16) the referee blew for time and Eccles breathed a sigh of relief!

 

Team:  Louis Taylor (2T, MoM), Martin Judge, Mike Mills (3G), Joe Connor, Mike McGrath, Steve Barry, Eze Harper, Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones (1T), Mike O’Boyle, Bradley Lonsdale, Chris Smith, Christian Higgins, Martin Davidson, Mike Foster, Alan Wands.

Saturday 29th June 2013

National Conference League Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 16-28 EAST LEEDS

 

For the second week running Eccles lost at home to a Leeds based team, on this occasion, championship chasing East Leeds, but once again Eccles competed with a higher placed team and will look back at several missed opportunities. As opposed to the previous week when Eccles gave themselves too much to do in the first half against Milford, this time they surrendered a half time lead, in a game which was excellently officiated by young Ian Scott from Oldham.

 

Eccles had the worst possible start when East Leeds retained the ball from their kick off and at the end of their first set Kyle Quinlan struggled out of a tackle to score 10 metres from the corner, too far out for Jason Priestley to convert (0-4). Defences took over after that until 3 tries came in the last 7 minutes of the half. Steve Barry’s low kick to the in-goal was seized upon by Andrew Muscat and Muscat also added the conversion (6-4), but it was a short lived lead for the home team as East Leeds retained the ball from the re-start again, and man of the match Nathan Conroy scored next to the posts to leave Priestley an easy conversion (6-10). There was still time for Eccles to score again though and they did, right on the half time whistle. Barry chipped the ball over the visiting defence and Muscat collected the ball on the full to score his second try which he again converted (12-10).

 

Eccles opened the second half brightest and forced a drop out on 43 minutes when Barry sent another clever kick to the in-goal and Martin Judge tackled the winger Ross Meston, but 4 minutes later East Leeds broke away and Conroy spun out of a tackle to record his second try, which Priestly converted (12-16). The teams cancelled each other out after that until Jake Normington broke 50 metres for the visitors to score a try on 59 minutes that change kicker Conroy converted (12-22), and after Eccles conceded a goal line drop out with Louis Taylor being tackle in goal on 65 minutes, the Yorkshire side ensured the points two minutes later with Priestley racing down the wing and cutting inside for a try that he also converted (12-28).

 

Eccles didn’t deserve to be 16 points adrift, on the balance of play, and they got a consolation for their never say die attitude on 73 minutes when Marc Gilligan scored a try after good work from Eccles’ man of the match Chris Scanlan, although the angle was too tight for Muscat to convert (16-28). As hard as both sides tried the scoreboard was not troubled again, although East Leeds’ Conroy attempted a long distance drop goal on 76 minutes which sailed wide.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (2T, 2G), Mike McGrath, Mike Mills, Louis Taylor, Martin Judge, Steve Barry, Chris Scanlan (MoM), Marc Gilligan (1T), Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith, Eze Harper, Mike Foster, Bradley Lonsdale, Alan Wands.

Saturday 22nd June 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 14-24 MILFORD MARLINS

 

Eccles paid the price for being slow starters against promotion chasing Milford Marlins, and although they recovered well to compete with their guests for an hour, they had given themselves too much to do. The Leeds outfit scored with their first 3 serious attacks of the game and Eccles were staring at a big home defeat after 25 minutes but amazingly they limited Milford to a single penalty goal in the last hour of the game.

           

The game was only 2 minutes old when Man of the match James Coates dummied to pass and shot through a gap to score next to the posts, leaving an easy conversion for Martin Loveridge (0-6), but Eccles opened their account on 10 minutes when Chris Scanlan off loaded the ball cleverly to Louis Taylor who showed tremendous pace to score 10 metres from the corner, although too far out for Andrew Muscat to convert (4-6). Milford soon took control again though with Sam Hood forcing the ball sown in the corner on 14 minutes. Loveridge missed the kick (4-10) but did add 2 more conversions before half time after Adam Fairhead took advantage of some poor defending to score on 17 minutes (4-16) and Jamie Fields barged his way over between the sticks on 25 minutes. Eccles halted the Milford attack after that but failed to add any points of their own in the first half.

           

It was a different story in the second half as Eccles came out with “all guns blazing” and just 3 minutes passed when Taylor broke the defensive line just 15 metres from the Eccles try line and displayed his pace again to race the length of the field to score a try that Muscat converted (10-22). Eccles continued to press forward and Milford knew that they were in a game now. When they were awarded a long distance penalty just before the hour they elected to go for goal but Loveridge missed. He was given another chance though on 62 minutes when the referee penalized Eccles for ripping the ball out with two men in the tackle. This time it was in front of the posts and easy for Loveridge to convert (10-24).

           

Eccles’ response was immediate with their man of the match Chris Smith leading the team by example, and on 64 minutes Mike McGrath touched down in the corner only to have his effort ruled out for a forward pass from Eze Harper after the referee consulted with a touch judge. McGrath only had 4 minutes to wait however before crossing the line in the corner again after good work by Scanlan and Harper and this time the try was allowed, although again Muscatfound the angle too tight to convert (14-24).

           

Eccles continued to put pressure on the visitors for the remaining 12 minutes but to no avail as the Milford defence held on for a hard earned victory.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscal (1G), Mike McGrath (1T), Louis Taylor (2T), Joe Connor, Christian Higgins, Stev Barry, Chris Scanlan, Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith (MoM), Mike Foster, Eze Harper, Bradley Lonsdale, Alan Wands

Saturday 15th June 2013

National Conference Division One

 

WIGAN ST. JUDES 26-28 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

Eccles took a huge scalp last Saturday when they travelled to league leaders Wigan St. Judes and came away with the points, largely inspired by man of the match Marc Gilligan.  They thoroughly deserved the victory after doing it the hard way and coming back from a 6-18 half time deficit. It was a strange game that would have been great for any neutral. Eccles competed with St. Judes all the way but somehow found themselves 12 points adrift at the break, then, after hauling themselves back into contention they squandered chances to draw level, but still managing to steal the game after finding themselves 8 points adrift with just 4 minutes remaining.

 

Both sides tested each other early on, then the home side forced a goal line drop out on 15 minutes when Andrew Muscat was tackled in goal, and a minute later Dave Carney sent Paul Pendlebury through a gap and round the posts for a try that Scott Robinson converted (0-6). Eccles responded 5 minutes later though when Steve Barry’s dab to the in goal saw Muscat get a hand to the ball just before it went dead and Muscat also added the conversion (6-6).

           

On 28 minutes the Wigan side regained the lead with Dean Hunt shooting through a gap to score between the sticks, leaving Robinson an easy conversion (6-12) and after defending 2 successive sets of 6 the Eccles defence buckled again 5 minutes from half time with Nathan Jones “jinxing” his way through a static defence for another Robinson converted try (6-18).

           

Eccles got themselves back in the game on 46 minutes when Louis Taylor showed tremendous pace to break down the wing and beat the winger and full back to go round the sticks and give Muscat an easy conversion (12-18), then Eccles drew level with a try that involved good fortune on 51 minutes. Barry put in a low kick but it bounced straight back into his hands off a defenders foot and he scored half way between the posts and corner. Muscat’s conversion made it 18-18.

           

St. Judes forced another goal line drop out just after the hour when Taylor was tackled in goal, and they nudged ahead with a Robinson penalty, given for holding down, on 63 minutes (18-20). Then came an amazing last 10 minutes!  Eccles were awarded a penalty on 71 minutes for “ripping” the ball out with 2 in the tackle just 10 metres from the posts, but the usually reliable Muscat somehow missed it. Two minutes later St. Judes were penalized again, this time for a high tackle. It was a long way out but in front of the posts and Muscat went for goal hoping to draw the game level but didn’t get enough elevation.

           

It looked at this point like it was just not going to be Eccles’ day and as if to emphasize that Pendlebury broke away from half way to score his second try on 74 minutes. Robinson converted his 5th goal from 5 attempts (18-26) and St. Judes seemed to think they had done enough to win the game, but Eccles had other ideas.

 

On 76 minutes a long pass from Barry found Chris Smith who forced his way over 12 metres from the goalposts. The conversion looked a formality but Muscat’s shot rebounded off the post (22-26). Eccles continued press though, and with the final seconds ticking away another long pass from Barry saw Marc Jones dive low between a couple of defenders to just get across the line 15 metres from the corner. Having missed 3 easier kicks a lot of players might have lost their nerve but Muscat turned hero from villain to send the kick between the sticks to the sound of the referee’s final whistle (28-26).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T, 4G), Martin Judge, Mike Mills, Joe Connor, Louis Taylor (1T), Steve Barry (1T), Chris Scanlan, Marc Gilligan (MoM), Richard Openshaw, Alan Wands, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith (1T), Sam Cutts, Marc Jones (1T), Bradley Lonsdale, Adam Taher.

Saturday 1st June 2013

Tier 3 Challenge Cup 2nd Round

 

SHAW CROSS SHARKS 28-6 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

Eccles’ four match winning streak was ended, and they were dumped out of the NCL cup by second division promotion favourites Shaw Cross Sharks in a game they will want to forget. More disruptions to the squad didn’t help but too many players had an “off day” as Eccles rarely threatened to breech the home defensive line while, in contrast, the Dewsbury side were solid at the back and made the most of their chances going forward when they got them.

 

 The home side first threatened on 5 minutes when Shaun Squires collected a high kick from Andrew Fawkes and claimed to have scored a try, but the referee saw that he dropped the ball in the tackle, inches from the ground, but they were not to be denied on 14 minutes when John Rourke forced the ball down 15 metres from the corner and Squires added a difficult conversion (0-6).

           

Shaw Cross doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Fawkes dived low to score closer to the posts, leaving Squires an easy conversion (0-12), but it was Eccles who finished the half stronger, although with no points to show for their efforts. The closest they came was on 33 minutes when man of the match Andrew Muscat chased a high kick from Chris Scanlan forcing full back Derryl Olpherts to knock the ball dead and concede a goal line drop out.

           

Chances at either end were few and far between, and to have any chance, Eccles needed to score next but it was the home side that went over again in the 49th minute with a slick cross field passing movement being finished off in the corner by Aiden Chandler, just too far out for Squires to convert (0-16).

           

The tie was decided on 64 minutes when Fawkes “dummied” to pass and scurried over the line for his second try, which Squires converted (0-22), but Eccles didn’t give in and got a consolation for their endeavour on 72 minutes. Joe Connor sent out a long pass to Scanlan who exchanged passes with Muscat before scoring next to the posts. Muscat converted (6-22) and Eccles should have scored again two minutes later when speedy winger Louis Taylor broke down the wing and was only thwarted by a head high tackle from full back Olpherts. Any closer to the try line and it would certainly have been a penalty try with the Dewsbury man seeing red, but it was not to be and to add insult to injury Shaw Cross scored again two minutes from time, and it was Olpherts who broke from 25 metres out to score with Squires adding his 4th conversion (6-28).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1G, MoM), Christian Higgins, Martin Judge, Joe Connor, Louis Taylor, Steve Barry, Chris Scanlan (1T), Mark Thomas, Mike Davies, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Marc Gilligan, Chris Smith, Mike McGrath, Mike Moster, Eze Harper, Alan Wands.

Saturday 25th May 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 36-4 MILLOM

 

Eccles secured their 4th successive victory and moved above their Cumbrian visitors in the table with a victory that never looked in doubt. They scored some great tries, but the most pleasing aspect must be the fact that they kept Millom to a single try after going into the game with the second worst defence in the division. Once again Eccles were forced to make changes with Mike O’Boyle, Louis Taylor, Danny Trimble and Will Rigby all unavailable for various reasons but they welcomed back Mike Davies from a year in Australia whilst Carl Mort and Christian Higgins proved able replacements. Jamie Phillips was set for a debut as substitute but didn’t get onto the pitch because he was called into work.  Eccles opened the scoring on 4 minutes when Richard Openshaw off loaded and Chris Scanlon showed great strength to force his way over between the sticks, leaving Andrew Muscat an easy conversion (6-0).

 

Millom rarely threatened in the first half but Eccles wasted a couple of opportunities to increase the lead so, when Millom were penalized in front of the posts on 25 minutes Muscat edged Eccles further ahead with the penalty kick (8-0) and Eccles took a 14-0 lead into the break with another Muscat converted try on 31 minutes. Steve Barry released big centre Joe Connor and he “wrestled” out of a tackle to score 15 metres from the corner (14-0).

 

Two minutes into the second period a good cross field passing movement ended with Mike Mills sending Martin Judge over in the corner and Muscat added a great conversion (20-0), but tragedy struck on 50 minutes when Millom scrum half Ricky Donaghue suffered a badly broken and disclocated ankle and the game was held up for just over an hour waiting for an ambulance.

 

When play resumed Eccles carried on where they left off and on 57 minutes Scanlon dislodged the ball from a Millom attacker in a one on one tackle and gathered the ball to race 80 metres to score his second try. Muscat recorded his only miss of the afternoon with his kick (24-0) and at this point the Cumbrians had their best period of the game. On 61 minutes they forced a goal line drop out when Judge was tackled in goal and 4 minutes later Scott Clarke stretched out of a tackle to score in the corner. Jonathon Hodgson missed with the conversion attempt (24-4).

 

Eccles were soon back on the offensive though and finished with a flourish and 2 Muscatconverted tries. On 76 minutes Openshaw sent Mark Thomas over next to the posts (30-4) and right on the whistle Mills took a pass 30 metres out and showed great pace to go round the visiting winger and full back to touch down round the posts (36-4).  Man of the Match went to Andrew Muscat.

 

Team: Andrew Muscat (6G, MoM), Christian Higgins, Mike Mills (1T), Joe Connor (1T), Martin Judge (1T), Steve Barry, Chris Scanlan (2T), Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Carl Mort, Mark Thomas (1T), Chris Smith, Jamie Phillips, Mike Davies, Bradley Lonsdale, Alan Wands.

16th May 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

ROCHDALE  MAYFIELD 34-36 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

Eccles recorded their third straight victory with a superb performance in a game that was a great advert for Rugby League with both sides giving 100% effort, and in which referee Richard Griffiths also excelled. Kiwi Louis Taylor scored a debut try and new signing Chris Scanlon scored a brace in only his second game but the man of the match was Joe Connor who weighed in with a hat trick of tries to give him 6 tries in 4 games.  Eccles opened the scoring on 10 minutes with quick hands through Marc Jones, Steve Barry and Andrew Muscat allowing Connor to barge over 10 metres from the corner, too far out for Muscat to convert (4-0), but Mayfield drew level 5 minutes later with Ben Namulmata forcing a try in the corner that Todd O’Brien failed to convert (4-4). Mayfield then took a 16-4 lead in 3 minutes with 2 tries, both converted by change kicker Aiden Gleeson, starting in the 26th minute. First, Eric Johnson stretched out to score next to the post (4-10) then, Seta Tala bounced off a defender to score, also next to the post (4-16).    Eccles only had 2 minutes to wait before troubling the score board again though as Barry’s kick off for the re-start went dead off a defenders shin, and from the drop out Scanlon shot through a gap in the defence to score between the sticks, giving Muscat an easy conversion (10-16). With their “tails up” Eccles started to play flowing rugby and took a half time lead with 2 tries, the latter converted by Muscat, in the last 6 minutes of the first half. Slick passing again through Barry and Muscat saw Connor score his second try wide out on 34 minutes (14-16) and a minute from the whistle Barry’s high kick was allowed to bounce and Taylor took advantage run the ball home (20-16).  Two minutes into the second period Eccles knocked on at a scrum and Joe Quianici had an open run between the sticks. Gleeson’s conversion gave the home side the lead again (20-22) but Eccles were in no mood to let the game slip away. On 48 minutes they forced a goal line drop out when Taylor chased a Barry kick to make a tackle in goal and a minute later, when Mayfield were penalized for a high tackle Muscatconverted from long distance to level the scores at 22-22. Eccles then took the lead again on 54 minutes when Mark Thomas was stopped just short and Richard Openshaw darted over between the sticks. Muscat, after previously converting 2 difficult kicks, somehow hit the post with his easiest shot of the night (26-22) and he was punished 4 minutes on when O’Brien scampered over for Mayfield half way between the posts and corner, and also added the kick (26-28).          The lead changed hands again just after the hour when Martin Judge broke down the wing and found Scanlon in support, the Aussie half back just managing to score in the corner with a defender hanging onto him. It was too far out for Muscat to tag on the goal (30-28) but this time Eccles were determined to hang onto their lead. It was obviously going to be a tight game though and Barry missed with a drop goal attempt on 67 minutes, but the points were not secured until 3 minutes from full time. Openshaw and Chris Smith combined to send Connor in for his hat trick and Muscat converted brilliantly from the touchline (36-28). Even then though, Mayfield had the final say. Paul Brierley chipped over the defence and re-gathered to score, but as Gleeson added the goal points (36-34) the referee blew his whistle to end a pulsating contest. 

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (4G), Martin Judge, Mike Mills, Joe Connor (3T, MoM), Louis Taylor (1), Steve Barry, Chris Scanlan (2T), Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw (1T), Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith, Will Rigby, Alan Wands, Bradley Lonsdale, Marc Jones.

Saturday 11th May 2013

RL TIER 3 CHALLENGE TROPHY

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 26-16 STANNINGLEY

 

Eccles won back to back matches for the first time this season and progressed to the second round of the RL Tier 3 cup at the expense of division 2 side Stanningley, but once again it was not a convincing performance, and the result was in doubt right up to the final minute. Even so, another win is another win and there are signs that once the side do “click” together they will more than hold their own in division 1.

 

Eccles were forced to make changes again with Andrew Muscat, Payden Candland, Steve Barry, Carl Mort and Adam Taher all unavailable from the previous weeks’ victory, but all credit must go to the Leeds outfit who matched Eccles in every department. On the plus side for Eccles Mike O’Boyle took the man of the match award on his return to the side while Christian Higgins and Mike McGrath also did well on return. New signing from Ashton on Mersey RUFC – Mike Mills made a try scoring debut, and another debutant – Aussie half back Chris Scanlon showed signs that he will be a big boost to the squad. A mention must also go to referee Liam Staveley from Bradford who had an excellent game.

 

Eccles opened strongest but failed to capitalize on possession, and on 21 minutes they fell behind against the run of play. The Eccles players were slow to react to a dropped ball and Stuart Halliday raced 30 metres, unopposed, to score a try that Callum Smithson converted (0-6). This spurred Eccles into action though and on the half hour mark Richard Openshaw fed Joe Connor and the big centre pushed off 2 defenders to race 25 metres to score. In the absence of a recognized goal kicker Chris Smith took on the role and converted a difficult shot (6-6). Stanningley got the ball dead from the re-start to force a goal line drop out but it was Eccles who took a narrow interval lead when Will Rigby and Openshaw combined to send Martin Judge over on 25 minutes, albeit too far out for Smith to convert (10-6). Eccles also forced a goal line drop out 3 minutes from the break when Higgins, Smith and Danny Trimble chased a kick to tackle full back Josh Roberts behind the goal line.

 

The second half was only a minute old when another dropped ball allowed Smithson to score between the sticks, leaving himself an easy conversion (10-12) and then defences took control until the 64th minute when a long pass from Rigby enabled Higgins to go round the posts for a try that Smith converted (16-12).

           

The game looked like it might be heading for extra time when Brad Cox sent Halliday over for his second try on 74 minutes and Smithsons’ conversion attempt was held up in the wind (16-16), but Eccles had just enough “gas in the tank” for a final push, and regained the lead 2 minutes from the whistle. Openshaw provided the pass and Mills showed strength to force his way over. Smith missed the conversion (20-16) to set up a nervous finish, but in the dying seconds Stanningley full back Roberts was tackled into touch by my McGrath, and from the scrum Connor broke through a gap to score his second try.  Smith converted (26-16) to make the score look more convincing than it actually was.

 

Eccles now face Shaw Cross Sharks (Dewsbury) in a Round 2 tie on 1st June.

 

Team:  Christian Higgins (1T), Mike McGrath, Martin Judge (1T), Joe Connor (2T), Dave Furniss, Chris Scanlon (debut), Will Rigby, Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle (MoM), Danny Trimble, Chris Smith, Bradley Lonsdale, Mike foster, Mike Mills (1T, debut), Alan Wands.

Saturday 4th May, 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 34-20 DEWSBURY CELTIC

 

 Eccles finally got their season started with their first win, but it has to be said that it was a scrappy game and the Manchester side have played far better this season and lost! It is a welcome win though and there is a feeling around the club that the team will “kick on” now, after several unlucky defeats, and play themselves to first division survival. Dewsbury Celtic certainly didn’t hand victory to the home side on a plate though, and actually matched Eccles’ 5 tries, but the difference at the end of the day was that Andrew Muscat converted 7 of his 8 kicks for Eccles whilst Niki Crabtree missed all 5 of his conversion attempts.

 

Eccles welcomed Carl Mort and Payden Candland back to the fold for the first time this season to replace injured Marc Jones and Mike O’Boyle, and it was Candland who opened the scoring on 4 minutes when Will Rigby and Danny Trimble combined to send him over in the  corner, too far out for Muscat to convert (4-0). Eccles then suffered a blow on 7 minutes when Mark Thomas went to hospital with a deep cut after a clash of heads, but they kept up the momentum and scored again on 10 minutes. Steve Barry sent a high kick to the in-goal and Danny Thomas tried to “shephered” the ball dead, only for Rigby to nip in and touch the ball down before it went dead. Muscat converted (10-0).

 

Taking an early lead seemed to “lull” Eccles into a false sense of security and they paid for it with Celtic scoring 2 tries in 3 minutes. The first came on 19 minute when Hafeez Yesufu off loaded out of a tackle for Niki Crabtree to score in the corner (10-4), then Scott Green made a good break that was finished off by their best player James Eartherley (10-8), and, on the  half hour, they forced Eccles into a goal line drop when Martin Judge was tackled in-goal, leading to a try from Anthony Dunford in the corner to give them the lead (10-12).

 

Eccles suddenly realized they were in a game and started to push forward again. On 36 minutes they also forced a goal line drop out with Muscat chasing Barry’s kick to pressure Pat Foulkstone into knocking the ball dead but the only further score of the half came in the dying seconds with Muscat converting a penalty after a high tackle (12-12).

 

Eccles started the second half like they did the first and scored within a minute when man of the match Richard Openshaw scooted between the sticks after Joe Connor had been stopped inches short and Muscat converted (18-12). Muscat edged Eccles further ahead with penalties on 46 minutes (20-12) for off side, and 50 minutes (22-12) for a Celtic player leading with the elbow. In between those penalties Eccles had forced another goal line drop out off another Barry kick with Candland and Rigby tackling a Celtic defender in goal, but they scored the points clinching try on 55 minutes. Barry’s chip over the defence was caught on the full by Muscat who fed Rigby and his pass put Bradley Lonsdale over the line wide out. Muscat converted again (28-12).

           

On 58 minutes Candland was sin binned for a professional foul, and 5 minutes later Eccles were reduced to 11 players when Lonsdale was also yellow carded for delaying a tap restart. Eccles held on with players short though until the 71st minute when Yesufu forced a try for Celtic (28-16), and once Eccles were back to full strength Openshaw dived low to score his second try between the sticks on 76 minutes, leaving Muscat an easy conversion (34-16). The final say went to the visitors with 2 minutes remaining however with Danny Crabtree latching onto his brother Niki’s kick and passing for Dunford to score his second try just inside the corner flag (34-20).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat, Martin Judge, Payden Candland (1T), Joe Connor, Dave Furniss, Steve Barry, Will Rigby (1T), Marc Giligan, Richard Openshaw (2T, MoM), Mark Thomas, Carl Mort, Danny Trimble, Chris Smith, Bradley Lonsdale (1T), Mike Foster, Adam Taher, Alan Wands.

Saturday 27th April  2013

National Conference Division 1.

 

BRADFORD DUDLEY HILL 32-26 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

Eccles have only ever beaten Dudley Hill once in 13 games, but they left Bradford on this occasion bitterly disappointed at once again letting a half time lead slip, and in the full knowledge that the best team undoubtedly lost! There is no doubt that the team are improving with every game and there is a feeling that once they get that first elusive win they will kick on to reach safety in division 1. Luck certainly seems to have deserted the Manchester club this season and the fact that they led this game right up to the final minute, before losing out with the help of a dubious touch judge typified that.

 

The club were forced to make 3 changes from the previous week but on the plus side Danny Trimble scored his first try for the club, Will Rigby also crossed after returning to the number 7 shirt and the biggest success of the day was the debut of former under 16 player Joe Connor who signed from Irlam Hornets midweek and scored a try and took the man of the match award.

 

It only took 3 minutes for Eccles to open the scoring when Steve Barry sent Mike O’Boyle between the sticks to leave Andrew Muscat an easy conversion (6-0), but the home side drew level on 12 minutes when Dave Halley sent Steve Lamond powering over the line for a try that Nathan Kitson converted (6-6). Eccles nudged ahead again on 20 minutes though with Muscat converting a penalty after Dudley Hill were penalized for “stripping” the ball with 2 in the tackle (8-6) and Muscat also added a difficult conversion 4 minutes later after Mike McGrath latched onto a cross field kick from Barry to score wide out (14-6).

 

On the half hour the home side were fortunate to reduce the arrears when an Eccles attacking kick was caught in a strong wind and blew back into the hands of Kenny Smith who found himself ahead of all the defenders, racing 60 metres for a touchdown that Kitson converted (14-12), although another good kick from Barry saw Eccles score again a minute from the break. Connor easily beat the winger to Barry’s kick to the in goal and simply put it down, although too far out for Muscat to convert (18-12).

 

Eccles conceded a soft try just a minute into the re-start when Neil Wall was stopped just short in the corner and Balou Fagborun attacked the short side to force his way over. Eccles held onto the lead though courtesy of Kitson’s missed goal attempt (18-16), and they had winger Dave Furniss to thank for keeping them in the lead on 62 minutes when he pulled off a try saving tackle. International winger Wall broke across the half way line and seemed set to score next to the posts until Furniss appeared from nowhere to make a tackle that dislodged the ball as Wall went to put it down. At this point the home sides’ Jamie Steward made a comment to Furniss and was harshly sin binned by the referee for swearing.

 

On 67 minutes Eccles made the extra man count when Rigby stretched out of a tackle to score wide out and Muscatwas very unlucky with his conversion attempt (22-16), then 4 minutes from time the Yorkshire team drew level after a controversial decision. A touch judge hesitated before putting his flag up late, and Eccles were amazed when they were penalised for a trip, and from that penalty Cameron Gibson wriggled out of a tackle to score between the sticks, and Kitson converted (22-22).

 

A draw might have been a fair result but Eccles were robbed even of that with another dubious score right on 80 minutes. The referee, who had controlled the game well up to that point seemed to miss a double movement from Dudley Hill’s stand out player Adam Jefferson and his try was awarded. The Eccles contingent were incensed as Kitson converted (22-28) and to add insult to injury the home side broke away 2 minutes into injury time to score  an unconverted try in the corner through Wall (22-32). Even then, there was still time for Eccles to have the final say with Mark Thomas and Rigby combing to send Trimble over in the corner. Adam Taher took over the kicking but missed narrowly (26-32) but it was too little too late for Eccles.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (3G), Mike McGrath (1T), Martin Judge, Joe Connor (1T, MoM), Dave Furniss, Steve Barry, Will Rigby (1T), Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Danny Trimble (1T), Chris Smith, Alan Wands, Mike Foster, Adam Taher, Marc Gilligan.

Saturday 20th April 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 14-12 WATERHEAD

 

For the second time in 3 games Eccles surrendered a half time lead at home as mid table Waterhead completed the double over the Manchester club. Even at this early stage of the season it is evident that Eccles, still seeking their first win, are in a relegation battle, and with the possibility of only 2 clubs being relegated this year it looks like they are going to have to target Stanley Rangers (Wakefield) and Millom (Barrow) as their main rivals. Even so, the atmosphere is good at the club and the team know that they have been very unlucky on a couple of occasions, this outing being one of them. There was no shortage of endeavour from the Eccles team and but for a couple of harsh decisions they may well have taken the points.

 

Waterhead got the ball dead from the kick off and at the end of the first set they had forced Eccles into a goal line drop out with Mike McGrath kicking the ball to safety, but it was Eccles who opened the scoring on 8 minutes. Richard Openshaw was held up over the line and from the play the ball “quick hands” through Steve Barry and Andrew Muscat created an overlap for Chris Smith to score, although too far out for Muscat to improve (4-0). Waterhead snatched the lead though, 5 minutes later when Carl Sneyd powered over next to the posts, leaving Michael Diveney an easy conversion (4-6).

 

On 22 minutes Eccles regained the lead with Barry sending Mike O’Boyle through a gap to stretch out of a tackle and touch down, but again the angle was too tight for Muscat to convert (10-6). The Oldham side came back yet again however and forced another drop out in the 27th minute, Muscat kicking the ball away from danger, then took the lead back on 33 minutes. Eccles conceded 4 successive penalties to the visitors before Sneyd went over for his second try, in the corner, and Diveney added an excellent conversion from the touch line (10-12).

 

There was still time for the pendulum to swing yet again though, and it did with just 2 minutes of the first half remaining. Paul Morgan “dabbed” a neat kick over the defense and Eccles’ outstanding player Muscat latched onto it and stepped past the full back Alan Williamson to score a try which he also converted for a 14-12 half time lead. It was a short lived lead though as just 2 minutes into the re-start Terry Fitzgerald sent Dale Lowe scampering in for a try that Diveney again converted (14-18).

 

Defenses were on top for the remainder of the game and credit must go to Waterhead for keeping Eccles out as they took the game to the visitors but they did also have a little bit of luck on their side. On 51 minutes Morgan forced a goal line drop out with a clever kick to the in goal and shortly after the Eccles contingent cheered as Openshaw sent Adam Taher only for the effort to be ruled, the referee ruling a knock on.

 

As time started to run out it became obvious that the  next score would probably win the contest and in a game “littered” with 24 penalties, 14 to the visitors, Diveney decided to go for goal with a long range penalty on 72 minutes, but his shot rebounded off a post. Just two minutes after that Waterhead sealed the points with a very contentious try. Morgan caught the ball in the in-goal area and once he realized he had nowhere to go he put one foot in touch to concede a drop out, but just as he did Fitzgerald took the ball in a one on one tackle and placed it on the ground. Eccles were astounded when the try was awarded and perhaps it was justice when Diveney missed the kick (14-22).

 

Eccles finished the game strongly but Waterhead were resolute in defense and hung on to take the points.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T, 1G, MoM), Mike McGrath, Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Dave Furniss, Steve Barry, Paul Morgan, Mark Thomas, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Danny Trimble, Chris Smith (1T), Christian Higgins, Mike Foster, Adam Taher, Will Rigby.

Saturday 13th April 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 22-32 BRADFORD DUDLEY HILL

 

With Eccles still suffering through injuries and other commitments they were forced to call up under 18’s player Tom Pratt, who responded with his second open age try.  Wingers Christian Higgins and Martin Judge were forced to play in unfamiliar roles with Higgins replacing Danny Trimble at centre and Judge starting in the second row for Mike O’Boyle.   Marc Jones also played his first game of the season in place of the injured Marc Gilligan.  The disruption clearly had a effect on the home side as they were “blown away” by the visitors who scored 22 unanswered points in the first 17 minutes.   Amazingly, Eccles got their game together after that and lost in the end by just 10 points, giving them hope that they could soon end their winless start to the season and still get enough points to avoid relegation.

 

The game was only 2 minutes old when Alex Dickinson raced in for the opening try which Nathan Kitson converted (0-6), and on 10 minutes Eccles spilled a high kick to gift Balou Fagborun a Kitson converted try (0-12). Just 2 minutes later a long range break was finished off by man of the match Cameron Gibson and Kitson converted (0-18), then, Gibson turned provider on 17 minutes, breaking from the half way line and setting up Jamie Steward for a try that was too far out for Kitson to convert (0-22).

 

Eccles responded with 2 tries in as many minutes starting in the 24th minute when Paul Morgan latched onto a kick to the in-goal by Muscat who also added the conversion (6-22), then, Adam Taher was stopped just short of the try line and Eccles’ man of the match Richard Openshaw “dummied” his way over between the sticks to give Muscat an easy conversion (12-22).

 

Eccles were in the ascendancy now and were pushing hard for another score when they were hit by a counter attack just after the half hour. Dickinson intercepted a pass and broke 60 metres before Dave Furniss brought him down with a try saving tackle, but his effort was in vain as a quick play the ball caught Eccles trying to get back in position and Fagborun went over for his second try in the corner. Kitson was off target with the kick but the Bradford side went in at half time 26-12 in front.

 

Neil Wall thought he had put Dudley Hill further ahead 5 minutes into the second half but his try was ruled out on the intervention of a touch judge and the wingers protestations earned him a yellow card from referee Tom Owen, who, it has to be said, had an excellent game. Eccles were unable to take advantage of the extra man though as defences took control and the next score did not materialize until the 62nd minute, and it was a second try for Gibson that was converted by Kitson (12-32).

 

With 18 minutes remaining Eccles had too much to do to win the game but they did play much the better rugby in the last quarter against a tired looking Dudley Hill. On 70 minutes Steve Barry sent an astute kick to the in-goal and Bradford full back Aiden Scully was forced to concede a goal line drop out from which Eccles scored. A long pass to the wing from Barry was collected by Pratt who “sold” an outrageous dummy to score 7 metres from the corner. Muscat missed the kick (16-32) but converted from a similar position when Eccles scored again 4 minutes from time. Barry again provided a great pass that sent Muscat away and he found Openshaw in support, the hooker scoring his second try of the game (22-32). Eccles were in full flow now but they simply ran out of time and remain bottom of the table.

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (3G), Mike McGrath, Simon Brown, Christian Higgins, Dave Furniss, Steve Barry, Paul Morgan (1T), Marc Jones, Richard Openshaw (2T, MoM), Mark Thomas, Martin Judge, Mike Foster, Chris Smith, Will Rigby, Tom Pratt (1T), Matt Wild, Adam Taher.

Saturday 6th April 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 22-46 HUNSLET WARRIORS

 

Eccles remain rooted to the bottom of the NCL division 1 table after suffering a second half collapse at home to a powerful Hunslet Warriors team. There was no sign of what was to come in the first half however, as Eccles, still looking for their first victory of the season, took a deserved lead, and in fact, led on the scoreboard for nearly an hour.

 

With the experienced Chris Irwin out injured Eccles gave a debut to Danny Trimble in the centre and he did not disappoint, but Eccles top performer on the day was second row Mike O’Boyle. A former players returning to the club – Dave Furniss weighed in with a try and the club were pleased to have Paul Morgan back for the first time this season.

 

Eccles started brightly and O’Boyle had a try ruled out for a forward pass on 6 minutes but they did take the lead 2 minutes later when Steve Barry sent O’Boyle forward and his brilliant off load enabled Chris Smith to stroll round the posts, leaving Andrew Muscat an easy conversion (6-0). Hunslet drew level though in the 12th minute when Johnny Dawson broke the line before sending Man of the match Gary McLelland between the sticks for a try which he also converted (6-6).

 

The game became end to end now and Eccles forced a goal line drop out on 19 minutes when Barry’s kick was knocked on in goal, and 2 minutes after that they conceded a goal line drop out themselves with Martin Judge pushing the ball to safety under pressure, but it was Eccles who regained the lead on 31 minutes when Muscat hacked on a ball that had a come loose and chased it to re-gather and score half way between the posts and corner flag. Muscat also added the conversion (12-6).

 

On 36 minutes Daryl Gaunt stretched out of a tackle to touch down under the cross bar, leaving McLelland an easy conversion (12-12) to tie the scores again, but Eccles took an interval lead with a try on the last play of the first half. Mark Thomas was stopped just short of the Hunslet try line and from the play the ball Richard Openshaw sent Adam Taher crashing over 15 metres from the corner and Muscat converted brilliantly (18-12).

 

The second period was only 4 minutes old when the visitors drew level again with Richard Wheelhouse jinxing through a static defence to score between the posts. McLelland converted (18-18) and then also gave the Leeds outfit a lead for the first time with a 54th minute penalty (18-20). Once they got their noses in front Hunslet were ruthless in attack and hit Eccles with 3 tries, two of them converted by McLelland, in 7 minutes. Wheelhouse broke from 25 metres out to score his second on 56 minutes (18-26), then a kick to the wing saw Arron Niles score in the corner (18-30) and on 63 minutes a short ball off Dawson sent Brad Gill crashing over between the posts (18-36).

 

Eccles tried hard to get back into the game and on 68 minutes they forced another goal line drop out when Morgan chased an Openshaw kick to apply pressure on the defender, and then 2 minutes on they were frustrated when Taher had another try ruled out for a double movement. To make matters worse the Warriors immediately turned defence into attack with a break by Lloyd Templeman which led to a try in the corner by Connor Spencer, but McLelland’s kick hit the near post (18-40).

 

Tempers flared on 75 minutes and the result was yellow cards for Marc Gilligan and Hunslet’s Wheelhouse, and it was the Warriors who settled down quickest after the fracas and they scored their last points with a minute to spare – Niles scoring his second try in the corner, superbly converted by McLelland (18-46). The visitors also forced a second goal line drop out with Trimble being called on to rescue a dangerous situation, but the final say went to Eccles and it came in the dying seconds. Taher sent a long pass to the wing where Furniss gathered and beat his opposite winger Niles to score the final try of the game, albeit too far out for Muscat to add the goal points (22-46).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T, 3G), Mike McGrath, Simon Brown, Danny Trimble, Martin Judge, Steve Barry, Paul Morgan, Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle (MoM), Alan Wands, Chris Smith (1T), Will Rigby, Mike Foster, Dave Furniss (1), Adam Taher (1T).

Saturday 16th March 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

STANLEY RANGERS 18-17 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

Eccles remain bottom of division 1 after a third straight defeat at Stanley Rangers, who themselves had lost their two opening games, but the Eccles contingent were left fuming after losing the game to a controversial refereeing decision. Certainly, this was a much improved performance from the Lancashire club and they deserved at least a draw for the effort they put into this game. A 5-10 penalty count against Eccles left officials questioning the wisdom of having a Wakefield referee controlling a game involving a Wakefield team.

 

Hooker Richard Openshaw took the man of the match award for Eccles but he was pushed all the way by the impressive display of stand-off Steve Barry, and there was a solid debut for 18 year old winger Jamie Bartlett, although everyone of the Eccles team can be proud of their display in this game.

 

Eccles were the first side to threaten, on 6 minutes, when Barry sent a low kick to the in goal and followed up to pressure the defender into knocking on and conceding a goal line drop out, then, just 2 minutes later Barry was involved again.  Mark Thomas was kicked while on the ground and a melee ensued that resulted in Barry getting sin binned along with the home sides Jackie Hogan.

On 16 minutes Eccles conceded a goal line drop out with Andrew Muscat being tackled in goal, and this resulted in the opening try. Stanley winger Joel Marsh touched down in the corner a minute later and Danny Grice’s conversion attempt unluckily hit the top of the near post (0-4), but Eccles hit back with two Muscat converted tries in three minutes.  The first came in the 24th minute when an excellent pass from Barry sent Mike O’Boyle through a gap and between the sticks (6-4), then Barry put in a high kick and Openshaw tackled winger Marsh as he caught the ball and dislodged it straight into the hands of Mike Foster who gleefully touched down under the crossbar (12-4).

 

Stanley got themselves back into the game 4 minutes from half time with full back James Senkiw scoring direct from a scrum and Grice adding the conversion (12-10) and they regained the lead 9 minutes into the second half with a try 15 metres from the corner by Liam Cawley, also converted by Grice (12-16). This signaled a period of pressure for the Wakefield side and Eccles were forced to defend 4 successive sets of 6 as Stanley forced them to drop out from under the sticks 3 times, but defend they did and they repelled everything that Stanley threw at them.

 

After surviving the pressure in the third quarter Eccles started to threaten themselves, and they tied the scores on 74 minutes when Barry sent a long pass out wide for Martin Judge to score 5 metres from the corner. Muscat was unlucky with his conversion attempt (16-16) but Eccles thought they had won the game a minute later when Barry popped up again to kick a 25 metre drop goal (17-16). It seemed that Barry’s boot would win the points for Eccles but the Manchester team were left astounded when the referee awarded a penalty for not playing the ball properly, and Grice gratefully slotted the ball between the posts to give the home side a victory that was hardly deserved (17-18).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (2G), Mike McGrath, Chris Irwin, Martin Judge (1T), Jamie Bartlett (Open age debut), Steve Barry (1DG), Will Rigby, Marc Gilligan, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle (1T), Alan Wands, Chris Smith, Simon Brown, Mike Foster (1T), Adam Taher, Mark Moore.

Saturday 9th March 2013

National Conference Division 1

 

WATERHEAD 44-16 SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS

 

This was never going to be Eccles’ day from the moment Christian Higgins injured his shoulder in the warm up to add to missing Steve Barry (injured) and Chris Smith (work). 17 year old Eze Harper replaced Higgins on the wing and injured Marc Gilligan, who had turned up just to watch bravely filled a substitute’s shirt. Promoted Waterhead eased to a comprehensive victory and on this evidence it will be a long hard season for Eccles.

 

The home side didn’t need any help taking the points from Eccles but they got it anyway in the shape of a referee who seemed to give every 50/50 decision to the Oldham team, and this was reflected in a 5-11 penalty count and the fact that Adam Taher was sin binned on 73 minutes when frustration got the better of him. The same referee has officiated Eccles many times with no problems but this was an off day for him from Eccles point of view, although Waterhead were too good for the visitors anyhow.  Eccles actually opened the scoring on 9 minutes when a kick to the wing by Paul Smith was collected on the full by Harper who raced 30 metres to score in the corner, too far out for Andrew Muscat to convert (4-0), but Waterhead took the lead on 17 minutes when they took a quick tap penalty and Josh Brown dived over next to the post to leave Michael Diveney an easy conversion (4-6).  Waterhead extended the lead on 27 minutes with an Ashley Wainman try, converted by Diveney (4-12 and after what had been a fairly even first half hour they took a 22-4 lead into the break with 2 tries, the latter converted by Diveney in the last 6 minutes of the first period. First, Diveneys kick to the wing saw Alan Williamson score in the corner (4-16), then right on the whistle, fast hands across the pitch enabled Matthew Fogarty scored in the same corner (4-22).  Fogarty stretched out of a tackle to score his second try 7 minutes into the restart, although Diveney missed the kick (4-26), then, with Eccles’ man of the match Richard Openshaw driving the team forward Eccles troubled the scoreboard again with Taher sending Gilligan crashing between the sticks and Muscat adding the extras (10-26). Any hopes of a revival though were soon squashed when Waterhead’s best performer Josh Brown collected a chip over the defence to score an unconverted try (10-30).

 

Fogarty completed his hat trick on 63 minutes, with Diveney converting (10-36), although that was his lat successful conversion, and Brown also scored his third try after 20 metre break on 70 minutes (10-40).  Ironically, the Oldham side were finding it difficult to score again with Eccles down to 12 men after Taher’s yellow card, and on 76 minutes Terry Fitzgerald attempted a drop goal which sailed wide, but they did manage one more try in the 80th minute when Williamson hacked on a loose ball and won a race to touch down in the corner (10-44).  Somehow the referee found 5 minutes of injury time and it was right at the end of this period that Eccles had the final say with Muscat squeezing through a gap to score a try that he also converted (16-44).

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T, 2G), Mike McGrath, Chris Irwin, Martin Judge, Eze Harper (1T), Paul Smith, Will Rigby, Adam Taher, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle, Alan Wands, Bradley Lonsdale, Simon Brown, Danny Robinson, Marc Gilligan (1T), Mike Foster.

Saturday 9th Marcg 2013

National Conference Division 1 

 

SALFORD CITY ROOSTERS 16-52 OULTON RAIDERS

 

Oulton were relegated from the premier division last season and, on this evidence, they will be favourites to return there come the end of this season.   Eccles had no answer to the pace and ability of the visitors from Leeds, who had the game won by half time.   Raiders’ stand-off Danny Stanley was easily the man of the match as he was involved in everything his team did well and he controlled the game.

 

The visitors opened the scoring in the 3rd minute with Adrian Holdsworth breaking down the wing to score in the corner, albeit too far out for Stanley to convert (0-4) and on 8 minutes Holdsworth scored an identical try to his first effort, but this time Stanley added a great conversion from the touchline (0-10).   Stanley failed to convert after Andy Eastham forced a try in the same corner on 15 minutes (0-14) but converted his own try when sustained pressure led to him scoring 10 metres from the post (0-20).   Oulton were still not finished and scored 2 tries, the second converted by Stanley, in 3 minutes. Nathan Batty dived over the line on 29 minutes (0-24) and Holdsworth then completed his hat trick (0-30).  Eccles kept Oulton out for the last 8 minutes of the first half with their man of the match Adam Taher in fine form and to their credit, gave the Yorkshiremen a much sterner test in the second half.

 

On 46 minutes Mike O’Boyle was stopped close to the try line and from the play the ball Richard Openshaw sent Taher crashing through the defence for a try that Andrew Muscat converted (6-30).   Just 4 minutes later the impossible started to look possible as Chris Smith off loaded for Taher to push off full back Matty Bullough and score again, although this time the angle was too tight for Muscat to convert (10-30).

 

Eccles were starting to believe they could still get something from the game when they suffered a cruel blow just before the hour.  The officials missed a blatant knock on in the build up to Dane Charles scoring an unconverted try in the corner for the Raiders (10-34), then on 66 minutes Stanley’s second try and conversion ensured the points would go over the Pennines (10-40).

 

Eccles never gave in and on 71 minutes Smith was the provider again, sending Simon Brown through a gap for a try that Muscat converted (16-40) but Stanley completed his hat trick with a great individual try, which he converted, 4 minutes from time (16-46).   The icing on the cake for Oulton came with Charles breaking 65 metres down the wing and round the posts for his second try and as Stanley added the conversion the final whistle was blown (16-52).

 

 

Team:  Andrew Muscat (2G), Christian Higgins, Martin Judge, Bradley Lonsdale, Mike McGrath, Steve Barry, Will Rigby, Mike Foster, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas, Mike O’Boyle, Alan Wands, Chris Smith, Paul Smith, Simon Brown (1T), Adam Taher (2T, MoM), Marc Gilligan.

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