Saturday 13th September 2014

National Conference Division 1




Eccles avoided relegation to the National Conference League Division 2 despite a heavy away defeat in the last game of the season.  There has been no lack of effort from the team and there is more than enough talent on the register to have been safe weeks ago but the other attractions of summer coupled with injuries, work commitments a lack of loyalty in some quarters resulted in the team travelling short of numbers too often. As other results transpired even a draw at York Acorn would have saved Eccles but once again they travelled with only 15 players and paid a heavy price for it.


Eccles were actually much the better team in the early stages and nobody could have foreseen what was about to come after the opening quarter. Eccles were awarded a penalty for holding down after only two minutes but Jordan Parker scuffed his shot wide. He did manage to convert his second effort though, on 5 minutes after Danny Trimble and Mike Foster combined to send Adam Walker over for a try (6-0).


The lead lasted until 14 minutes when Josh Thompson scored a try in the corner and Anthony Chilton added a great conversion (6-6) and the home side took the lead on 25 minutes when Ryan Gallacher forced a try in the opposite corner and Chilton proved that he can kick goals from either side (6-12). Chilton recorded his only miss of the first half on 32 minutes after his low kick to the corner was pounced on by Gallacher (6-16) but he did convert two minutes from the whistle following a Matthew Woods try (6-22).

Any thoughts of a comeback for Eccles were extinguished within 5 minutes of the re-start as Gallacher completed his hat trick (6-26) and Joe Budd scored a long range try, the second effort improved by Chilton (6-32). Eccles did not give in however and they twice forced goal line drop outs in the 51st and 59th minutes with first Mike Davies and Marc Jones and then Davies and Steve Barry chasing kicks to make tackles behind the try line. When Budd broke away against the run of play to score his second try though, converted by Chilton (6-38), who didn’t miss again in the rest of the game, the Salford side knew their fate was sealed and the “floodgates” opened. Budd completed his hat trick on 64 minutes, although Acorn were fortunate to get away with a clear forward pass in the build up (6-44) and a minute later a loose ball was hacked on four times football style before Joel Johnson touched down between the sticks (6-50).


On 69 minutes Eccles were awarded a penalty when Ben Robinson was elbowed as he lay on the floor but his reaction earned Robinson, who had already done enough to be selected as the Eccles man of the match, a red card, the official ruling that he made contact with his opponent with his head. Acorn went on to score again through Gareth Singleton on 72 minutes (6-56) and Gallacher scored his 4th try right on the final whistle (6-62).


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Ben Robinson (MoM), Tom Pratt, Zacky Sajjad, Mike Davies, Jordan Parker (1G), Adam Walker (1T), Mike Foster, Alex Edwards, Martin Judge, Danny Trimble, Marc Jones, Will Rigby, Steve Barry.


Referee:- Mr. Michael Mannifield (Huddersfield).

Saturday 7th September 2014

National Conference Division 1




The battle to avoid relegation will go down to the last game of the season next Saturday after Eccles missed a golden opportunity to move out of the bottom 3 at home to already relegated, bottom club Millom. To be fair to Millom they came to Eccles with nothing to play for and put relegation behind them to produce a top performance in an effort to achieve their first ever win at Moat Hall and take Eccles down with them.   Prior to the game the Eccles club were boosted by a 40 strong coach load of North Wales Crusaders supporters, friends of club PRO Kenny Roberts, who came from Wrexham to lend their support and they kindly handed over a collection they had on the coach of £100.

The Eccles team were out of sorts in the first half and it seemed as though some of the players thought they were going to have it easy against Millom, but they did produce a battling display after they found themselves 16 points down to put themselves in a winning position, only to let it slip, in the end, a draw being a fair result.


Richard Openshaw made himself available after missing the last 7 matches on compassionate grounds and took up where he left off with the man of the match award while other contenders for the accolade were Paul Morgan and Ben Robinson.

Millom first gave notice of their intentions in the 9th minute when Paul Carter forced a try 15 metres from the corner and Ross Brooks converted (0-6), then, on 13 minutes Brooks converted his own try after he dived over close to the post to double their advantage (0-12).  It wasn’t until Jonathon Hodgson put a kick over the defence for Brooks to score his second try on 22 minutes that Eccles seemed to realize they were in a game and finally started to play with the passion needed. Brooks missed with the kick this time (0-16) and 4 minutes later Eccles threatened for the first time. Robinson burst through two would be tacklers and made a great break before hacking the ball forward where Millom conceded a goal line drop out, Brooks booting the ball dead under pressure from Openshaw.


Eccles troubled the scoreboard for the first time on 29 minutes when quick hands through Jordan Parker and Martin Judge allowed Tom Pratt to score in the corner, albeit too far out for Parker to convert (4-16). Eccles’ comeback then seemed more realistic when Millom had Hodgson sent off for a professional foul on Robinson five minutes from the break, but this seemed to inspire the visitors even more and after forcing Eccles into a goal line drop out, Muscat tackled in goal, Liam Brady scored in the corner on 38 minutes although Brooks found the angle too tight to add the goal points (4-20).   Eccles did give themselves a lifeline though with a score on the last play of the half when Andrew Muscat made the break that led to Morgan scoring between the sticks, leaving Parker an easy conversion (10-20).


Eccles started the second half far more positively and drew level with two tries, the second converted by Parker, in three minutes, the first coming on 45 minutes. Openshaw fed Morgan who forced the ball down in the corner for the first try (14-20) and then an Openshaw break was taken on further by Morgan and Muscat before Robinson finished off with a try wide out that Parker converted brilliantly (20-20).

Just before the hour Eccles hit the front for the first time with Morgan dummying to pass and then shooting through a gap to complete his try hat trick and Parker converted (26-20). The feeling now was that Eccles would run away with the game but Millom had other ideas and defended resolutely. Eccles could have put themselves 8 points ahead with a penalty close to the sticks, but they elected to run the ball, a decision they would later regret.  With time ticking away both clubs pushed hard to take the spoils from the game. Morgan missed with a drop goal attempt on 68 minutes and Millom forced another drop out at the other end a minute later as the game see-sawed up and down the pitch. A long range penalty attempt on 72 minutes by Parker sailed wide and Millom forced another drop out on 74 minutes before breaking Eccles’ hearts with the equalizer 5 minutes from time. Brooks scored in the corner to complete his hat trick and then ensured the points would be shared with an excellent conversion (26-26).


Saddleworth Rangers now have 15 points while Milford, Eccles and Dewsbury Celtic have 13. It’s unlikely that Dewsbury Celtic will get the points they need at third placed Myton Warriors next week while Eccles have to travel away to York Acorn. Assuming Celtic lose at Myton a draw could be enough for the Manchester side if Saddleworth win away at Milford. If Milford win however and Eccles triumph at York it could come down to points scoring difference and at the moment, Eccles are 13 points inferior to Rangers.


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Ben Robinson (1T), Tom Pratt (1T), Zacky Sajjad, Paul Morgan (3T), Jordan Parker (3G), Alex Edwards, Mike Foster, Marc Jones, Martin Judge, Danny Trimble, Adam Walker, John Stanfield, Will Rigby, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Jimmy Lomax.


Referee:- Mr. Peter Parker (Hull).

Saturday 30th August 2014

National Conference Division 1




This has been such a frustrating season for Eccles because there is no doubt that there is enough talent at the club for them to be easily safe from relegation with two games left to play, but as it stands, they need to win their last two matches, and even then will need others to lose a game if they are to avoid the drop. The problem is that other distractions of Summer RL regularly rob the club of important players and they can never field a settled side. The club have often travelled away with less than a 17 man squad and the lack of replacements has robbed the club of 10 points from winning positions.


This week the squad were without 8 of the 17 that played last time out and only 6 replacements were available. These included 52 year old Jimmy Lomax, Paul Morgan who was playing his first game in nearly two years and Simon Brown who selflessly answered the call an hour before the coach was due to leave for Hull where Eccles were predictably beaten by top 4 side Myton Warriors. Despite the defeat though, Eccles once again were able to walk off the field with their heads held high after giving 100% effort to a man and matching their hosts in the second half after going 24 points behind by the break.


Lee James opened the scoring on 5 minutes with a try in the corner for Myton and his brother Ashley James converted brilliantly from the touch line (0-6) then the same pair repeated the effort on 12 minutes to double the home lead (0-12). In fact, Ashley James went to convert the first 7 of his 8 conversion attempts.


Eccles’ only score of the first half came on 20 minutes when Myton knocked on and Ben Robinson swooped to pick the ball up and make good yards before Marc Jones  passed the ball back out of a tackle for Martin Judge to score. Jordan Parker converted (6-12) but 4 minutes later Alan Dunham stretched out to score (6-18), then Stuart Oades forced the ball down on 31 minutes (6-24) and Lee James completed his hat trick of tries on 34 minutes (6-30).


A lesser team would have collapsed in the second half but Eccles took the game to their hosts until, against the run of play, Mytons Nathan Slater broke from half way to score with electric pace (6-36) and the same player repeated the feat with the help of Kris Walker just two minutes after (6-42). Undaunted though, Eccles continued to attack their hosts though and got rewarded just after the hour mark. Adam Walker was stopped close to the line and Parker sent Andrew Muscat scurrying round the posts for a try that Parker converted (12-42).


There was more than an element of luck about the Warriors’ final try on 70 minutes as Kris Walkers hopeful dab towards the in goal bounced up perfectly off a defenders ankle back into his arms for a simple try (12-46), but Eccles had the final say 3 minutes from time when Parkers long pass sent Ben Robinson over wide out. Parker defied a swirling wind to tag on the extra points superbly (18-46).

Parker had an impressive kicking game all round while Morgan and Judge were particularly impressive but for his non-stop 71 minute effort in the front row, man of the match went to Adam Walker.


Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T), Zacky Sajjid, Ben Robinson (1T), Tom Pratt, Paul Morgan, Will Rigby, Jordan Parker (3G), Adam Walker (MoM), Mike Foster, Marc Jones, Martin Judge (1T), Danny Trimble, Alex Edwards, Jimmy Lomax, Simon Brown.


Referee:  Nick Bennett (Sheffield)

Saturday 16th August 2014

National Conference Division 1




With only 3 games left to play a narrow home defeat by promotion chasing Shaw Cross Sharks, coupled with Saddleworth Rangers’ home victory over Ince Rose Bridge saw Eccles slip into the relegation places – third from bottom. The Dewsbury side were very young, very fast, very organized and very enthusiastic and they just about deserved their win on the day, although Eccles matched them all the way for effort and determination. Eccles were left kicking themselves after letting a 16-6 lead slip, but the only thing that made a difference in the end was Eccles giving themselves too much to do in defence after having 3 players sin binned and being on the wrong end of a 6-14 penalty count, although it is debatable that the team deserved that?


Zacky Sajjad (holiday), Adam Walker, Alex Edwards, Jayden Lund and Paul Raftery (injured) were all unavailable from the team that played the previous week but back into the side came Lee McCormick, Ben Robinson, Mike Davies, Chris Smith, Neil McPherson and John McAtee. Young Australian back Luke Davies was also named but didn’t get the chance to make his debut. Mark Thomas postponed a knee operation during the week to play and had a great game, although he was just “pipped” for the man of the match award by Marc Jones.


The game was only 3 minutes old when slack defending allowed the visitors to take the lead with Martyn Holland sending James Davies over between the sticks, leaving Danny Flowers an easy conversion (0-6), but Eccles tightened up the defence and didn’t allow the Sharks another scoring opportunity in the first half. In fact, Eccles grew in confidence as the game went on.

On 29 minutes an altercation saw Lee McCormick sin binned along with Sharks scrum half Holland and it was Eccles who settled down quickest, opening their account a minute later. McAtee sent Smith crashing though two defenders to score but Andrew Muscat was unable to level the scores with the kick (4-6). Eccles did finish the half on a high though and forced a goal line drop out on 35 minutes with Martin Judge tackling full back Derrell Olpherts in goal after an astute kick from McAtee.


The second half was much more frantic than the first and the action started on 47 minutes when McPherson was sin binned for apparently throwing a punch, although it was Eccles who took the lead two minutes later despite the numerical disadvantage. McAtee sent another kick to the in goal and as Christian Higgins went shoulder to shoulder with a defender to score the ball spun loose and Tom Pratt was on hand to touch the ball down. Change kicker Jordan Parker added the conversion (10-6).


From the re-start Eccles conceded a drop out – touching the ball as it sailed out of play but they held out, and on the very next set they scored again whilst still down to 12 players. A pass to the wing went to ground but was hacked on and hacked on again by Parker and Robinson with the Sharks defenders giving chase, but the ball bounced up perfectly for Parker to score and also add a difficult conversion (16-6).


Shaw Cross forced a drop out again from the re-start, although nobody in the ground except the referee appeared to know why? McAtee and Muscat both went to catch the ball and Muscat came away with it. Nobody knocked on and nobody put a foot in touch so it was a mystery as to why it was given but Eccles survived it anyhow.


On 57 minutes Eccles were awarded a penalty for ripping the ball out with two in the tackle but Parker’s shot was off target this time and as the game moved into the final quarter the Dewsbury side began to take control. They cut the deficit on 61 minutes with Greg Wilby forcing his way over between the sticks and Flowers converting easily (16-12) and drew level 5 minutes later. Olpherts collected a high kick just inside his own half and sliced through the Eccles defence to score a brilliant individual effort, albeit too far out for Flowers to convert (16-16).


A minute after Olpherts gave the Sharks the lead McAtee was sin binned for foul language to an opposing player and Shaw Cross took advantage immediately. They created an overlap for Brandan French to score in the corner, giving Sharks a narrow lead. Flowers missed his kick again (16-20) and he also missed with a long range penalty effort in the dying seconds.  Eccles tried hard to retrieve the game in the last 12 minutes but to the visiting defence held firm.


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Lee McCormick, Tom Pratt (1T), Ben Robinson, Jordan Parker (1T, 2G),

Will Rigby, Mike Davies, Mike Foster, Danny Trimble, Martin Judge, Marc Jones (MoM), Mark Thomas, Luke Davies,

Chris Smith (1T), Neil McPherson, John McAtee.


Referee:  Billy Pearson (Wakefield)

Saturday 9th August 2014

National Conference Division 1




A win at Dewsbury Celtic would have virtually guaranteed Eccles’ first division survival and at the same time almost certainly have condemned their hosts to the second division, but it wasn’t to be as a much depleted Eccles side didn’t get the rewards that their heroics deserved and once again suffered for a poor decision from the official.  Seven of the side that beat Saddleworth last time out were unavailable with 3 players returning to their Rugby Union clubs for the winter, Ben Robinson on holiday, Mike Carney having gone to Australia for a year and Chris Smith and Mike Davies unavailable. Influential club captain Richard Openshaw is also understandably still unavailable for compassionate reasons.


With no substitutes available for the trip over the Pennines,  coach Paul Raftery was forced to put himself on the bench for his first game in 18 months after injury, and Danny Trimble also bravely put his hand up despite still getting over a serious operation.  Marc Jones and youngsters Tom Pratt and Alex Edwards returned to the side after holidays but that still left the team two players short and it told in the end.


Eccles opened the game much the brighter side and on 10 minutes Jayden Lund, who took the man of the match award despite playing 65 minutes with a knee injury, was stopped just short of the line, then a slick passing movement involving Mike Foster, Mark Thomas (Playing his last game of the season due to a knee operation this week) and Marc Jones was finished off in the corner by Christian Higgins. Jordan Parkers conversion attempt looked good until it was held up in the wind at the last minute (4-0).  Eccles looked to be in complete control for the first half hour, yet found themselves behind on 31 minutes. Two penalties gave the home side good field position on 22 minutes, and Celtic’s stand out player Josh Knowles burrowed his way over from dummy half (4-4), then, on 31 minutes a hopeful low kick bounced off a defenders shin perfectly into the arms of Tom Norris who scored an easy try. Fortunately Pat Foulstone missed both kicks (4-8).  Foulstone did add his only conversion though two minutes later when he converted his own try after squeezing through a gap (4-14), but Eccles gave themselves a lifeline on the stroke of half time when Higgins went over again in the same corner after good work by Foster and Thomas. This time Parker found the range with his kick and Eccles were 4 points adrift at the break (10-14).


The second period was only three minutes old when Eccles regained the lead with the try of the match. Fantastic back up play saw Eccles surge 60 metres with Parker breaking, followed by Andrew Muscat and Parker again before Pratt went between the sticks leaving Parker an easy conversion (16-14). It was a short lived lead however, as Josh Brooke off loaded in the corner on 46 minutes for Doug Foster to score, although again too far out for Foulstone to convert (16-18).  Eccles pushed hard to regain the lead and thought they had done just that when Lund forced the ball down on the try line where the touch judge indicated a try, only to be over ruled by the referee who said Lund was held up. To make matters worse Eccles became victims of a counter attack on 62 minutes when Foulstone collected an attacking kick and shot through a gap to race 90 metres to score. A great effort to chase back by Thomas though forced him into the corner where he found the conversion too difficult again (16-22)


A draw would have been a fair result and Eccles tried everything to get it with Adam Walker and Lund again being held up over the line, but hang Celtic hung on desperately for the points.  With just four game left Eccles are going to need at least one and probably two wins to stay up but with a little change of luck and a little bit more commitment from absent players there is no reason they can’t do it.



Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins (2T), Martin Judge, Tom Pratt (1T), Zacky Sajjad, Jordan Parker (2G), Will Rigby, Adam Walker, Mike Foster, Alex Edwards, Jayden Lund (MoM), Mark Thomas, Danny Trimble, Paul Raftery.


Referee:- Mr. Ian Scott (Oldham).

Saturday 26th July 2016

National Conference Division 1




Eccles ended a run of 6 successive defeats in emphatic style at home to relegation rivals Saddleworth Rangers, a victory that saw them “leapfrog” the Oldham side by one point and move out of the relegation zone. The club suffered a blow earlier in the week with the confirmation that long serving forward Mike O’Boyle had moved to Leigh Miners Rangers and Marc Jones was also missing from the forwards this week but Eccles found an able replacement with Chris Smith coming out of retirement for the second time this season. Zacky Sajjad and John McAtee were brought in as replacements for Steve Barry and John Blanchard in further changes to the team that last so unfortunately at Ince. McAtee particularly had a big effect on the game, although the man of the match award went to block busting Aussie forward Jayden Lund.


The game was only 3 minutes old when McAtee sent Ben Robinson racing over for the opening try which Mike Carney converted (6-0), but there were no further scores until the 26th minute when Eccles “blitzed” Rangers with 3 tries in 5 minutes. First Carney passed on the last tackle for McAtee to spin out of a tackle and score in the corner. Carney converted brilliantly from the touch line (12-0) but recorded his only miss of the day two minutes later when he followed up his own chip to re-gather the ball. He was tackled close to the line but from his play the ball Robinson dived over for his second try (16-0). Robinson completed his hat trick with a “mazy” run to the line off a McAtee pass and Carney again added the extras (22-0), and Eccles were unlucky not to go in at half time even further ahead when Will Rigby’s try two minutes from the whistle was ruled out by a touch judge for a forwards pass by Neil McPherson.


The second half started the same way as the first, and was only 4 minutes old when Parker sent a high kick towards the Saddleworth line where winger Jed Maudsley spilled the ball into the arms of Lee McCormick and he sent Carney over for a try that he also converted (28-0). At this point Eccles were fully in control and a 50 point winning margin was looking on the cards until 50 minutes when a fracas occurred in the middle of the pitch and Mike Davies was sent off for using his elbow. Five minutes later Eccles were reduced to 11 players with McAtee joining Davies on the touchline – yellow carded for use of the head. Rangers almost took advantage immediately when Josh Bradbury raced clear from his own half at speed but he was chased down and tackled brilliantly by Parker.


Rangers eventually did take advantage of the extra man on 76 minutes with Chris Conway forcing the ball down in the corner and Ben Whitehead adding an excellent kick (28-6) but there was still time left for Eccles to add to their tally. A long pass from McAtee found Parker who beat two defenders to score, and with Carney off the field injured Parker took the conversion himself and added the final points of the game (34-6).



Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Ben Robinson (3T), Lee McCormick, Zacky Sajjad, Jordan Parker (1T, 1G), John McAtee, Mike Davies, Mike Carney (1T, 4G), Mark Thomas, Martin Judge, Jayden Lund (MoM), Mike Foster, Adam Walker, Neil McPherson, Will Rigby, Chris Smith.


Referee:- Mr. Craig Kay (Wigan).

Friday 18th July 2014

National Conference Division 1 




Eccles welcomed Mike Foster, Christian Higgins, Jayden Lund and Andrew Muscat back to the team for the trip to Wigan on Friday night to face Ince Rose Bridge, and winger Mike Davies was brought in for his first appearance of the season, bringing Eccles close to full strength for the first time in many weeks, but despite a valiant effort they couldn’t prevent the side slipping to a 6th straight defeat. On this occasion though, Eccles considered themselves very unlucky not to record their first double of the season as a host of vital decisions went against them.  Tom Pratt and Danny Trimble are still on the injury list while Alex Edwards, Mike O’Boyle and Zacky Sajjad were also unavailable this week. Coach Paul Raftery had to shuffle the team about and the experiment to play Mike Carney at hooker proved a success as he walked off with the man of the match award.

Carney started the move that led to the opening try for Eccles on 6 minutes when he made a great break before Jordan Parker and Will Rigby combined to send Muscat over for a try that Carney converted (6-0), but 4 minutes later the home side drew level when Adam Dwyer “burrowed” his way over from dummy half close to the line and Kenny Baker converted (6-6).  From the re-start Parkers kick off was knocked on behind the in goal line and Ince were forced to drop out from beneath the sticks. Eccles were unable to take advantage though and it was the Wigan side who scored next on 16 minutes. Jamie Malone squeezed through a gap to score and Kenny Baker again converted (6-12). Eccles were level again though just 2 minutes later when Carney picked up a loose ball and raced 60 metres, between the posts, leaving himself an easy conversion (12-12).

On 25 minutes two successive penalties put Ince into a good position and Dwyer made the most it, diving over for his second try wide out, albeit too far out for Kenny Baker to convert (12-16). The remaining 15 minutes of the first half were scoreless, but Eccles did force a second goal line drop out just before the whistle with Muscat chasing a kick from Parker to make a tackle in goal.  Eccles came out for the second half in determined mood and 5 minutes in Ben Robinson made a powerful run into the home territory before flipping the ball backwards out of the tackle where Parker was waiting to combine with Carney and send Lee McCormick over in the corner for his first ever Eccles try. Carney was unlucky with the difficult kick (16-16) and he was even more unlucky 3 minutes later when he had what appeared to be a perfectly good try ruled out by the referee.  Rose Bridge regained the lead against the run of play on 52 minutes when a quick cross field passing move saw Ryan Eccleston score in the corner. Kenny Baker again found the angle too tight to convert (16-20).

On 55 minutes Eccles officials were incensed when they had another try ruled out. Steve Barry sent an astute kick to the corner where Higgins celebrated a try, only to be disappointed again. The referee was poised to give the score and the touch judge on that side was perfectly happy with it but the touch judge on the far side ruled Higgins off side. To add insult to injury so to speak, 3 minutes later Ince were awarded a penalty in front of the posts for holding down and Kenny Baker kicked it (16-22).  The home team were not comfortable as Eccles continued to press but Martin Packingham slotted a 72nd minute drop goal, meaning Eccles now had to score twice to win (16-23), and 5 minutes from full time the Ince man of the match Tony Baker sent Malone in for his second try which Kenny Baker was unable to convert again (16-27).  Eccles still needed to score 2 converted tries and the last 5 minutes were frantic with Eccles throwing everything into attack. On 78 minutes Carney was at the front of another Eccles attack when he took a terrible head tackle that angered Marc Jones and he confronted the offender. Jones was sent to the sin bin for his reaction but amazingly no action was taken against the home player.  Even with a player short Eccles continued to go forward and a minute from time Neil McPherson sent a looping pass to the wing where Higgins dived over just inside the corner flag. Carney converted brilliantly from the touchline (22-27) setting up a nervous last minute for Ince but, in the end, Eccles just ran out of time.

Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T), Christian Higgins (1T), Ben Robinson, Lee McCormick (1T), Mike Davies, Will Rigby, Jordan Parker, Mark Thomas, Mike Carney (1T, 3G, MoM), Marc Jones, Martin Judge, Jayden Lund, Adam Walker, Neil McPherson, Mike Foster, Steve Barry, John Blanchard.


Referee:  Jason Woodman

Friday 11th, July 2014     

National Conference Division 1




Eccles were predictably well beaten away to league leaders Rochdale Mayfield after once again being forced to make 5 changes from the team that played the previous week. Full back Andrew Muscat was in Prague representing Malta against the Czech Republic and winger Christian Higgins became the latest injury casualty after being concussed in both of his previous games. Martin Davidson was unable to take time off work and Mike O’Boyle was a late withdrawal. Veteran Jimmy Lomax was replaced this week by Steve Barry but there was still plenty of “experience” on the bench with John McAtee and Neil McPherson answering the call in an emergency.

On the plus side the forwards were boosted by the return of Marc Jones, Mark Thomas and Adam Walker, with Jones just edging out Thomas for the Eccles man of the match award, and Chris Roughley made his first appearance of the season.  Despite a heavy defeat against a very good Mayfield team there was still 100% effort from the depleted Eccles team and there is still confidence at the club that once a couple more of the senior players return to the squad they are more than capable of holding on to their division 1 status.


There was no sign early on of the onslaught that was to come and it was Eccles who opened the scoring on 9 minutes when Mayfield knocked on close to the half way line and Mike Carney reacted quickest – swooping to pick the ball up and race between the sticks for a try that he also converted (6-0). Two minutes later Eccles thought they had improved the lead when Jordan Parker touched down Carney’s kick to the corner, but a flag went up and the score was ruled out for off side, then, to add insult to injury Mayfield immediately moved the ball to the other end where Sam Butterworth sent former Super League player Matt Calland over for a try which Butterworth improved (6-6). Indeed Butterworth was faultless with the boot all night, converting all 10 Mayfield tries.


Mayfield hit the front on 17 minutes when Aiden Gleeson broke the line 40 metres out to score (6-12) and that was followed by a 2 try burst in 3 minutes, starting on 21 minutes. First Leigh Athimon finished off a slick 65 metre passing move (6-18) and then Liam Whalley displayed great pace down the wing before spinning out of a tackle to touch down in the corner (6-24)  Eccles stopped the home sides “roll” when Ben Williamson palmed the ball dead to prevent a 26th minutes try, conceding a goal line drop out, and Eccles held Mayfield out until the last 5 minutes of the half. Calum Marriott broke 70 metres to score in the corner (6-30) and then Gleeson hacked on a loose ball before following up to score his second try (6-36).


Eccles came out for the second half far from downhearted and matched the home side until the 51st minute when McAtee was sin binned for an alleged elbow, and 3 minutes later John Foy scored in the corner for Mayfield (6-42). McPherson then joined McAtee in the sin bin for complaining to the referee about an incident, then right on the hour, with Eccles down to 11 players, Wayne Corcoran “burrowed” his way over from dummy half close to the line (6-48). In fairness to Eccles, that try should have been chalked off because Corcoran ran into the back of his own player – obstruction – before touching down.  Even with a man short though Eccles held firm until 73 minutes when Liam Whalley scored behind the sticks (6-54), but Eccles came back again and were rewarded for their efforts on 76 minutes when a great off load by Parker enabled Will Rigby to scamper over wide out, too far out for Carney to add the conversion. At 10-54 the score already did not reflect the effort put in by the Eccles lads and it was just cruel when Gleeson followed up a kick and took advantage of a very kind bounce to go over for his hat trick in the dying seconds of the game (10-60).


Team:  Ben Williamson, Bradley Lonsdale, Ben Robinson, Lee McCormick, Zacky Sajjad, Jordan Parker, Mike Carney (1T, 1G), John Blanchard, Will Rigby (1T), Mark Thomas, Martin Judge, Marc Jones (MoM), Adam Walker, Chris Roughley, John McAtee, Neil McPherson, Steve Barry.


Referee:  John McMullen (Wigan)

Saturday 5th July 2014

National Conference Division 1




It’s not often you can honestly say that a team played magnificently after they have lost but that was the case for this Eccles team today. From 1 to 17 every player was magnificent – under the circumstances.  Summer Rugby League has not been kind to the Eccles club due to having players missing every week due to the numerous attractions of Summer and this week they were particularly badly hit with players crying off for all sorts of reasons. The result was 8 changes from the previous weeks line up. Lee McCormick r had a great game and Ben Williamson did well in his first game of the season whilst another RU player – Martin Davidson had his best game in Eccles colours.   John McAtee, Neil McPherson and Jimmy Lomax all turned out to help the club and Martin Judge had a top game in the second row. Man of the match though went to Andrew Muscat who excelled as captain for the day.


There is no doubt about it that, after 4 successive defeats, Eccles are fully involved in a battle to avoid relegation, but there is equally no doubt that if Eccles can start getting some players back into contention there is more than enough talent at the club to avoid the drop. If the returning players can play with the same determination as this team today the club will avoid relegation comfortably. 


It was the worst possible start for Eccles as man of the match Josh Bradbury kicked a 40/20 on the first attack of the game and Scott Owen sent James Whalley over for a try that Bradbury converted (0-6), but Eccles were unlucky not to be level on 12 minutes when Christian Higgins had a try disallowed for a forward pass off Jordan Parker after great work by Muscat, then, 3 minutes later Rangers doubled their lead with Bradbury converting Ethan Langhorn’s try (0-12).  On 19 minutes Eccles forced a goal line drop out when Muscat followed up a kick to make a tackle in goal and on 26 minutes Eccles got on the scoreboard legally. A great run and off load from Bamber led to Higgins and Will Rigby combining to send Judge stretching over the line out of the tackle. Carney converted (6-12) and Eccles forced another drop out on 29 minutes when Higgins applied the pressure to a high kick from Carney, but Rangers hit back again within 2 minutes. Bradbury kicked early in the tackle count and Jack Holden showed great pace to score the try and leave Bradbury an easy kick (6-18).  Two minutes from half time Eccles forced a third drop out when Carney’s kick and chase caused panic in the Rangers defence, but it was Rangers who scored again right on the whistle. Bradbury’s drop goal attempt was charged down only for the ball to bounce really kindly for Owen to score in the corner. Bradbury added a great conversion (6-24).


Eccles kept Rangers at bay in the second half until 56 minutes when Bradbury sent Joe Boulter over in the corner and Bradbury made ait 5 conversions from 5 attempts (6-30). There was a feeling at this stage that the Eccles “Flood gates” would open now, but the visitors had other ideas. On 65 minutes Eccles forced a fourth drop out when Higgins again panicked the defence into kicking the ball dead off a kick from McAtee and a minute later Eccles scored again. McAtee sent Muscat over next to the post and change kicker Parker converted (12-30).


On 77 minutes Eccles had McPherson sin binned for a high tackle, but even with a man down they continued to attack the home line and got rewarded with a try a minute from time. Williamson made a great break across half way and handed on to Carney who outpaced two chasing defenders to score the try and add the conversion (18-30). Unfortunately, one of the chasing Rangers defenders attempted to trip Carney and the referee chose to take no action. This incensed McAtee who received a yellow card for his protestations.


Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T, MoM), Christian Higgins, Lee McCormick, Ben Williamson, Zacky Sajjad, Jordan Parker (1G), Mike Carney (1T, 2G), Alex Edwards,  Will Rigby, John Blanchard, Martin Judge, Ben Robinson, Mike Foster, Martin Davidson, Neil McPherson, John McAtee.


Referee:  Gareth Evans

Saturday 28th June 2014

National Conference Division 1




After a promising start to the campaign Eccles have been dragged into a relegation “dog fight” with this home defeat to York Acorn, in a game that was excellently refereed on his first visit to Eccles by Mr Craig Hill (St. Helens). Frustrated Eccles coach Paul Raftery was again forced to make 5 changes with Adam Walker (ribs) and Tom Pratt (broken toe) joining the injury list, Ben Robinson and Mike O’Boyle away on holiday and Andrew Muscat away, playing international RL for Malta against Greece, but the level of commitment given by the players who were available deserved much more than what they got out of this game.


On the positive side, captain Richard Openshaw led from the front and was only prevented from taking the man of the match award because Mark Thomas was outstanding. Christian Higgins, Will Rigby and Jayden Lund all impressed, playing out of their usual positions and young Saul Press made a fine first team debut when he came on as a sub. Perhaps the story of the game though was Paul Verdon who was drafted in at the last minute after turning up to watch the game and scored a try on his first NCL appearance in 7 years!


There was nothing to choose between the teams in the first half hour as defences stood firm and the nearest to a score they came was when Mike Carney sent a 19th minute high kick to the visitors’ in goal where Reece Rushworth palmed the ball dead to concede a goal line drop out. It was the York side who broke the deadlock though, on 33 minutes when Josh Thompson got over in the corner in a move that saw Eccles’ Higgins join the lengthy injury list with concussion. Antony Chilton missed the conversion attempt (0-4) but he did convert just 2 minutes later when Acorn took advantage while Eccles were re-organising their line up when a high kick saw Ryan Gallagher collect the ball and score to give Acorn a 10-0 lead going into half time.


Eccles gave themselves a lifeline just 6 minutes into the second period when Thomas made one of many strong runs and Bradley Lonsdale, making his first NCL appearance of the season, spun out of a tackle to score wide out, too wide out for Carney to improve (4-10). The home side continued to have the better of the second half, although it was Acorn who extended their lead against the run of play on 68 minutes when Tom Hill put Matthew Woods over in the corner and Chilton added a superb kick from the touchline (4-16).


At 12 points adrift Eccles still felt they could win the game and on 74 minutes Openshaw sent a long pass wide where Rigby sent Verdon crashing through the defenders for a try that Carney converted (10-16). Eccles pushed hard to get something from the game and Acorn knew their lead was hanging by a thread, and so Chilton attempted a drop goal 2 minutes from time which sailed just wide, but his team held on for the victory that was hardly deserved.



Team:  Christian Higgins, Will Rigby, Bradley Lonsdale (1T), Jayden Lund, Zacky Sajjad, Jordan Parker, Mike Carney (1G), Alex Edwards, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas (MoM), Gary Blanchard, Marc Jones, Mike Foster, Saul Press, Paul Verdon (1T),  John Blanchard.


Referee:- Mr. Craig Hill (St. Helens).

Saturday 21st June 2014

National Conference Division 1




For the second week in succession Eccles travelled over to Yorkshire to face one of the promotion favourites with a weakened side, and only 3 substitutes, and for the second week running they “shipped” 56 points. The difference this week however, was that when they found themselves 26 points adrift at half time they rolled up their sleeves, “got stuck in” and won the second half 28-24 to restore some pride and give hope of avoiding relegation. Eccles still lost the game but it was not for a lack of effort. Richard Openshaw and Mike Carney were in outstanding form for the visitors but scrum half Will Rigby “shaded” the man of the match award.


Eccles had the worst possible start when they should have had possession of the ball from the kick off, but they allowed it to bounce dead and Normanton took advantage immediately with Jonathon Hodgson putting Aaron Butterfield over in the corner, too far out for Adrian Mulcahy to convert (0-4). Carney’s kick off from the restart also bounced dead to win Eccles a goal line drop out but it was the home side who scored again on 8 minutes when Hodgson sent Butterfield over again, but again too far out for Mulcahy to convert (0-8). Mulcahy did convert the third try though, on 11 minutes when Eccles knocked on and Thomas Alexander forced the ball down close to the stick (0-14).


On 18 minutes Eccles troubled the scoreboard for the first time when Jayden Lund was held close to the line and Openshaw dabbed the ball to the in goal where Rigby was most alert to touch down. Carney tagged on the goal (6-14). Eccles knocked the ball into touch again though from the restart and a minute later Alexander sent Patrick Waterton over for a try that Mulcahy converted (6-20).  The match boiled over on 27 minutes when Lund took a knee to the head on the floor. Lund retaliated and Mark Thomas also joined the fracas. After the referee consulted his touch judges both Lund and Thomas were sin binned but Eccles got the penalty and Normanton had Lee Lingard sent off.


Eccles forced another goal line drop straight away when Carney chased Andrew Muscat’s kick to make a tackle in goal, but the Wakefield outfit took full advantage of the extra man for 10 minutes, scoring tries through Hodgson on 31 minutes (6-26) and Lee Starbuck on 36 minutes, both converted by Mulcahy (6-32) and that is how it remained up to half time.


Just 2 minutes into the second period Mike O’Boyle, Openshaw and Rigby combined to send Lund crashing over for a try that Carney improved (12-34) but 3 minutes later an Eccles attack broke down and Hodgson raced 80 metres, between the sticks to leave Mulcahy an easy conversion (12-38).  Eccles responded on 50 minutes when a great run from Marc Jones led to Openshaw diving over in the corner and Carney’s conversion was excellent (18-38). This was Eccles best period of the game and 2 minutes later Zacky Sajjad, Rigby, Muscat and Tom Pratt chased a Carney kick to gang tackle the full back Hodgson back into his in goal to force yet another drop out. Eccles kept the pressure on and came up with 2 tries in 2 minutes, both converted by Carney. The first came on 55 minutes when Gary Blanchard was held close to the line and Openshaw sent Thomas crashing over (24-38), then a powerful break by Mike O’Boyle was followed up by Thomas who found Muscat supporting and the full back raced over (30-38).

Eccles had cut the deficit to just 8 points but their efforts had taken a lot out of them and Alexander forced his second try, which was improved by Mucahy (30-44) just after the hour, then, 3 minutes later, Hodgson squeezed through a gap to complete his hat trick with Mulcahy converting again (30-50).


The Salford club refused to lie down and on 74 minutes, after O’Boyle was stopped on the line, Openshaw sent Jones crashing in for a try wide out. Carney was unlucky with the conversion attempt (34-50), some amongst the crowd insisting that he had scored, but the final say went to the home side right on the whistle when Chris Woolford sent Lee Starbuck over for the final try and man of the match Mulcahy converted (34-56).


Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T), Christian Higgins, Ben Robinson, Tom Pratt, Zacky Sajjad, Mike Carney (5G), Will Rigby (MoM), Mark Thomas (1T), Richard Openshaw (1T), Alex Edwards, Mike O’Boyle, Jayden Lund (1T), Adam Walker, Marc Jones, Mike Foster, Gary Blanchard.


Referee:- Mr. Liam Staveley (Bradford).

Saturday 14th June 2014

National Conference Division 1




Eccles have played Oulton Raiders 10 times before in their history and have lost them all.  Oulton Raiders currently sit at the top of the NCL division 1 with 10 wins from 10 games, so travelling over to Leeds with 7 enforced changes from the previous week’s victory was always going to be a daunting task for the Salford club. The team travelled over the Pennines with only 3 substitutes and the squad also included Jake Carr, playing his first game in 2 years, and two players – Mike Foster and top scorer Jayden Lund who both put their hands up to play despite illness and injury. It was no surprise then that Oulton comfortably extended their unbeaten run at the top of the league, but it was not for lack of effort from the Eccles team. All 16 lads gave it their best shot, including Rugby Union converts Gary Blanchard and Martin Davidson. Ben Robinson had his best game to date for Eccles and Tom Pratt was reliable as usual, whilst Mark Thomas was very close to “pipping” man of the match Richard Openshaw.


Eccles kept the home side out for 11 minutes conceding 2 tries in 2 minutes. First, Chris Hope broke down the wing before sending Danny MacKintosh in for a try (0-6) and then Rob Stanley broke down the middle, paving the way for a try from man of the match Nathan Larvin, both tries converted by full Scotland international Jamie Benn (0-12).  Eccles defended well in periods of the first half but fell for another brace of tries, the second converted from the touchline by Benn, in 4 minutes. Scott MacDonald stretched out of a tackle to score in the corner on 26 minutes (0-16) and then fast hands across the pitch enabled McDonald to score his second try and the score remained 0-22 up to half time.


Eccles didn’t hold out so long at the start of the second half and again they fell for 2 tries in 2 minutes with change kicker McKintosh converting both. The first came on 44 minutes when Chris Hope barged his way over in the corner (0-28) and then a great pass put Kieran Woods over next to the posts (0-34).

The home side could see that Eccles were there for the taking now and it was going to be a case of damage limitation for the visitors. As hard as Eccles tried to keep the score down Oulton got over the whitewash at regular intervals. Chris Williams “jinked” his way over on 51 minutes (0-38) and then Andy Williamson squeezed through a gap to score on 56 minutes. Fortunately, both scores were wide out and Mackintosh could only improve the second (0-44). Mackintosh missed 2 more kicks after MacDonald forced the ball down for his hat trick on 61 minutes (0-48) and Chris Knowles scored in the corner on 66 minutes (0-52).


Benn returned to attempt to improve Raiders’ final try, Hope’s second, on 70 minutes but his kick fell short (0-56), then amazingly, Eccles had one of their best periods of the game in the last 10 minutes. Not only did they keep the Yorkshire men out for the rest of the game but they got on the scoreboard themselves 3 minutes from the end. The impressive Thomas made a great run down the middle before off loading for Mike Carney, himself just back from injury, to hack the ball on and show great speed to win the race for the ball to touch down close to the posts. Carney also added the conversion (6-56).


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Mike O’Boyle, Tom Pratt, Ben Robinson, Mike Carney(1T, 1G), Will Rigby, Alex Edwards, Richard Openshaw, Mark Thomas, Mike Foster, Jayden Lund, Jake Carr, Garry Blanchard, Steve Barry, Martin Davidson, Martin Judge.


Referee:  Tony Martin (Oldham)

Saturday 7th June 2014

National Conference Division 1




Eccles, who have been dragged into the relegation battle recently, played hosts to second from bottom Dewsbury Celtic and they earned an important victory that puts 5 points between themselves and their visitors, but they made hard work of a game that should have been won by half time. Eccles were missing captain Richard Openshaw and full back Andrew Muscat but they still appeared to have too much power for their Yorkshire visitors in the first half. It is a mystery as to why they ended up hanging on for the win. Martin Judge, Mike O’Boyle and Mark Thomas all made strong claims for the man of the match, but in the end it went to Jayden Lund who scored his 17th try of the season.

The game was only 6 minutes old when Ben Robinson chased a Jordan Parker kick, forcing the Celtic winger to kick the ball dead and concede a goal line drop out. A minute later Lund crashed over for his try, but too far out for Parker to convert (4-0). Eccles then missed 3 more golden opportunities in the first quarter to score more tries with the final pass going to ground each time

On 20 minutes Lund was stopped just short and Mike Foster fed Thomas who forced his way over in the same position and again Parker was unlucky with his kick (8-0). Actually, all 4 of Eccles’ first half tries were scored in on the same side, half way between the posts and corner flag. Parker failed with his third attempt as well after Will Rigby, Mike Foster and Judge kept the ball alive for Robinson to score on the half hour (12-0) and change kicker Eze Harper was also off target 5 minutes from the break after Rigby sent Judge through a gap to score (16-0).

Mike Foster and Rigby combined to send Parker over for a try 7 minutes into the second period but again he failed to add the extras to his own try (20-0) and this gave the Dewsbury side the belief that it could still be their day. They got on the scoreboard for the first time on 51 minutes when Josh Sykes went over in the corner and Pat Foulstone “rubbed salt in the wound” by converting from the touch line (20-6).

On 57 minutes Pat Foulstone dived onto a kick to the in-goal to score and also added the conversion (20-12), and the alarm bells really started ringing in the Eccles ranks on 65 minutes when the same player shot through a gap to score again and add his third kick (20-18).

Eccles needed to stop the visitors getting on a roll and fortunately they came up with an answer just 3 minutes later. Lund was again stopped just short and then Mike Foster and Parker engineered a try for Mike O’Boyle. Remarkably, Parker’s only conversion on the day meant Celtic needed 2 scores to win (26-18). Both sides threw everything into attack, but defences ensured there were no further scores.  Eccles forced a drop out on 71 minutes with Christian Higgins chasing O’Boyle’s kick to the corner and Rigby knocked the ball to safety 3 minutes later to concede a drop out at the other end. Eccles also had a long distance penalty attempt 3 minutes from time but yet again Parker’s shot sailed just wide.


Team:  Eze Harper, Christian Higgins, Martin Judge (1T), Tom Pratt, Ben Robinson (1T), Jordan Parker (1T, 1G), Will Rigby, Marc Jones, Mike Foster, Mark Thomas (1T), Mike O’Boyle (1T), Jayden Lund (1T), Adam Walker, Alex Edwards, David Foster, Zacky Sajjad, Mike Carney.


Referee:  John McMullen (Wigan)

Saturday 31st May 2014

RL Tier 3 Challenge Cup (R1)




The facts are that Eccles went out of the NCL cup in the first round, to lower league opposition for the second season running, but the facts don’t tell the story of what was an incredible match, that was full of talking points and in which, Eccles came within a “whisker” of winning after looking dead and buried a quarter of the way through. Mark Thomas, recently released by Swinton RLFC was outstanding on his return to the club but even his performance was eclipsed by man of the match Tom Pratt.


Eccles made the short journey to Oldham with only 3 subs as injuries and retirements bite deep into the squad, and it looked like an absolute thrashing was on the cards when the home side took a 22-0 lead inside the first 17 minutes. Simon Topping off loaded for Mick Foggerty to score wide out on 6 Minutes (0-6) and 3 minutes later Mick Diveney kicked to the corner for Foggerty to score again (0-12) before Foggerty returned the favour, sending a reverse kick towards the sticks for Diveney to dive over (0-18) on 14 minutes, and finally Foggerty completed his hat trick off an Alan Williamson pass on 17 minutes, Kiel Lancashire converting all but the 4th try (0-22).


Eccles were not fazed by the early setback though and they opened their account on 23 minutes when Thomas Struggled out of a 3 man tackle to score between the sticks, leaving Jordan Parker an easy conversion (6-22), and Thomas was involved again 5 minutes later when he was stopped 5 metres from the line and Richard Openshaw’s perfect pass sent Eze Harper over for a try that Parker converted (12-22).


The home side extended their lead on 33 minutes when Michael Cadd forced his way over, too far out for Lancashire to convert (12-26) and Eccles kept the game alive with a try 3 minutes from the whistle. A good break by Will Rigby was taken on by Ben Robinson who sent Zacky Sajjad over in the corner. Parker added a brilliant conversion to make it 18-26.


9 minutes into the second half Parker sent Mike O’Boyle over for a try that Parker improved (22-26), but from the re-start Eccles lowed the ball to bounce dead, conceding a goal line drop out which led to Craig Highton spinning out of a tackle to score next to the posts, leaving Lancashire an easy conversion (22-32).  St. Annes had 2 tries rightfully disallowed for forward passes before Eccles reduced the deficit on 59 minutes. Thomas made a strong run down the middle before Openshaw sent O’Boyle over for his second try, which Parker was unlucky not to improve (26-32).


On 69 minutes St. Annes had Foggerty sin binned for a high tackle on Robinson that most people in attendance thought should have been a red card, but Eccles took advantage of the extra man immediately. Another powerful run by Thomas saw Openshaw send Parker over for a try wide out, and at this point luck was with Eccles. Parkers’ kick clearly hit the outside of the far post but the officials ruled that it was a goal and Eccles were level at 32-32.


Eccles were very much in the ascendancy now and another great run down the middle by Thomas on 72 minutes saw Eccles take the lead for the first time with a Will Rigby try, converted by Parker (38-32). Eccles twice thought they had secured victory with tries by Adam Walker and Sajjad being pulled back for forward passes, but St. Annes needed a bit of luck to get back in the game and they got it 20 seconds from the whistle. Dave Sweeney sent Simon Topping over for a try wide out and change kicker Carl Sneyd kept his nerve with the kick to send the game into golden point extra time.


The best chances in the first period of extra time fell to Eccles, but they failed to take them. Diveney and Lancashire both missed with long distance drop goal attempts for the home team but Harper also failed twice to add a one pointer, although one effort was touched by a home player resulting in a goal line drop out.


Diveney again missed a drop goal attempt before Eccles were finally put out of the competition by a player who probably should not have taken any further part. Lancashire broke the Eccles defensive line and sent Foggerty racing down the wing for his 4th try of the game (38-42).


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins, Eze Harper (1T), Tom Pratt (MoM), Zacky Sajjad (1T), Jordan Parker (1T, 5G), Will Rigby (1T), Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle (2T), Jayden Lund, Ben Robinson, Mark Thomas, Alex Edwards, John Blanchard.


Referee:- Mr. Dean Bowmer (Wakefield).

Friday 9th May 2014

National Conference Division 1




Once again Eccles were forced to make several team changes for the visit of second placed Rochdale Mayfield, and just as in the previous home game they lost touch with their visitors after the half time break. Eccles still gave a good account of themselves though and had their promotion chasing visitors worried for long periods.


Stand off Jordan Parker was away on holiday but his replacement Jayden Lund scored his 16th try of the season, keeping him top of the try scoring chart for this division. Marc Jones was still away but Adam Taher made his first appearance of the season and contributed a try. Eze Harper wasn’t available as he had played for Leigh the previous night although young Alex Edwards and Tom Pratt again proved that they are going to have big futures in the game. Man of the match though went to Richard Openshaw, his 30th man of the match award for the first team and making him second in the clubs list of man of the matches.


The visitors opened the scoring on 6 minutes when Sam Butterworth “stepped” through a gap on half way and raced away for a try that he also converted (0-6), and on 16 minutes a break from Liam Whalley was finished off with Ben Naumulatua stretching out to score in the corner, too far out for Sam Butterworth to add the goal (0-10). Mayfield seemed to think that they were going to be in for an easy night just 3 minutes later when veteran Matt Calland spun out of a tackle to score in the corner and Butterworth added a great conversion (0-16). Eccles had other ideas though and 15 minutes after going 16 points down they were level.


On 22 minutes Adam Taher forced the ball down through a crowd of players for a try that Andrew Muscat converted (6-16) and 3 minutes after that Chris Smith made a great break before handing on for Ben Robison to break down the wing and beat full back Seta Tealla for a try that Muscat again converted (12-16). Tealla was at fault for Eccles’ equalizer too, as he failed to deal with Adam Walkers’ big kick downfield and Robinson took advantage to score his second try although too far out this time for Muscat to convert (16-16).


The Eccles equalizer came on 34 minutes and in frantic finish to the first half 4 tries were scored in the last 6 minutes! Two minutes after Eccles drew level Declan Sherridan scampered over for Mayfield for an unconverted try (16-20), but Eccles forced a goal line drop out, getting the ball dead from the re-start and Lund powered through the defence for a trade mark try with Muscat’s conversion giving Eccles the lead for the first time (22-20). It was a short lived lead though as Whalley scored in the corner for the visitors right on half time and Sam Butterworth added an excellent conversion (22-26).


The second half was much tighter than the first and it was not surprising that when Mayfield were awarded a penalty for off side, right in front of the posts on 58 minutes Sam Butterworth nudged them further ahead (22-28). Then, just after the hour mark, Sherridan wriggled out of a tackle to score his second try and Sam Butterworth converted (22-34). It was not such a good night though for Sam Butterworth’s brother Ben as he received his “marching orders” on 65 minutes for a head butt on Taher.

Eccles tried hard to make the numerical advantage count, but to no avail, and the points were finally lost on 69 minutes when Calland took advantage of some tired tacklers to score wide out. Sam Butterworth added another conversion from the touch line (22-40) and that proved to be the last score of the game. Lund became the first Eccles player to receive a card this season when his frustration got the better of him and he was sin binned 3 minutes from time for dissent and back chat.


Team:  Andrew Muscat (3G), Christian Higgins, Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Ben Robinson (2T), Jayden Lund (1T), Will Rigby, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Mike Foster, Mike O’Boyle, Payden Candland, Alex Edwards, Adam Taher (1T), Chris Smith, Steve Barry, Zacky Sajjad


Referee:  John McMullen (Wigan)

Saturday 26th April 2014

National Conference Division 1




The Eccles team were devastated for the visit of third place Milford Marlins with Andrew Muscat, Steve Barry, Mark Jones, Jayden Lund and Martin Judge away, Payden Candland illness and Danny Trimble and Mike Carney still out injured, but they produced a performance that typified the great team spirit in the camp these days. Eccles actually shocked the Leeds outfit by racing into a 24-0 lead, but with only one fit substitute and Chris Smith and Chris Irwin coming out of retirement in an emergency the lack of fitness and able replacements eventually saw them worn down. Mike Foster and Eze Harper did well on their return to the team and young Tom Pratt was outstanding but for his 100% effort at prop for the full 80 minutes the man of the match award went to Adam Walker. Eccles were disappointed to let such a big lead slip but the entire team can still be proud of their effort.

Eccles took the lead on 12 minutes with Will Rigby, Mike Foster and Matthew Gilligan keeping the ball alive on the last tackle before Rigby popped up to score and Jordan Parker converted (6-0). Five minutes later the lead was doubled when Smith made a good break across half way and found Rigby in support then he fed Ben Robinson who showed great pace to race down the wing and cut inside to score, leaving Parker an easy conversion (12-0).

On 20 minutes Richard Openshaw sent a pass to Parker who “dummied” his way through to the try line and also added the extras (18-0), then Parker converted again 3 minutes later when a break down the wing by Pratt was finished off by Eze Harper going over in the corner and round the posts (24-0).

The promotion chasing Marlins were stunned by the whirlwind start by Eccles but they re-grouped and hit back with 2 Martin Loveridge converted tries in 2 minutes. The first was scored by Ryan Oxtoby who spun out of a tackle to touch down (24-6) and he was followed over by the impressive Josh Parle who broke from half way (24-12). From the re-start however, Parker managed to get the ball dead, forcing a goal line drop out which put Eccles back on the attack and a long pass from Openshaw was tipped on by Pratt for Christian Higgins to score just inside the corner flag. Parker added a brilliant conversion from the touch line to make it 30-12 and that is how it stayed up to half time.

With the slope, and the wind in their favour in the second half the visitors came out like a different team and 7 minutes in, a kick to the corner by Luke Reeves saw Nathan Hargreaves score in the corner, although Loveridge was off target with the kick (30-16). Loveridge had better luck though on 57 minutes after Ben Hood stretched out of a tackle to score (30-22) and on the hour his conversion put Milford just 2 point behind after Oxtoby broke through some tired tacklers to send Parle between the sticks (30-28).

Eccles were clearly showing fatigue at this stage and once again Oxtoby broke through too easily, on 64 minutes, to send John Plunkett in for a try that Loverdge added the extras to (30-34). Eccles somehow found a “second wind” though and on 74 minutes they drew level. A quick cross field passing movement ended with Irwin putting Robinson over in the corner. Parkers’ kick got caught up in a strong wind and fell agonizingly just short of the target (34-34). At this point a draw would have been deserved for Eccles but Loveridge nudged Milford ahead with a drop goal on 76 minutes (34-35) and with just a minute to go Oxtoby took advantage of a kind bounce from a kick by Parle to score between the posts, leaving Loveridge to kick the conversion that sealed the win (34-41).


Team:  Eze Harper (1T), Christian Higgins (1T), Matthew Gilligan, Tom Pratt, Ben Robinson (2T), Jordan Parker (1T, 5G), Will Rigby (1T), Adam Walker (MoM), Richard Openshaw, Alex Edwards, Mike O’Boyle, Chris Smith, Mike Foster, Saul Press, Chris Irwin, Zacky Sajjad.


Referee:- Mr. John McMullen (Wigan).

Saturday 19th April 2014

National Conference Division 1




Eccles earned 2 more valuable away points from their long trip to Cumbria, but it was a game that they almost let slip in the final quarter after completely controlling the bottom side Millom for over an hour. In fairness to Eccles they were forced to make changes with bank holiday weekend commitments depriving them of forward Alan Wands and stand off Jordan Parker whilst scrum half Mike Carney has his arm in plaster and another forward – Danny Trimble is on crutches for his efforts the previous week. Former under 18’s player Alex Edwards made a promising first team debut though and the divisions’ top try scorer Jayden Lund helped himself to another hat trick to give him 13 tries from 7 league games. Loose forward Payden Candland had one of his best games for the club but hooker Richard Openshaw was awarded the man of the match, moving him up to joint second with Carl Mort on 29 in the clubs all time list of man of the match awards. Openshaw now needs 8 more to overtake club legend John McAtee.


The game started with Eccles on the attack from the off and on 3 minutes Andrew Muscat chased Steve Barry’s kick to force full back Ross Brookes into conceding a goal line drop out. Once back in possession, Candland made a great break before Lund barged his way over for the opening try which Muscat converted (6-0). The home side hit back on 10 minutes with Ricky Donaghue breaking down the wing before passing inside for Paul Evans to score between the sticks and Evans also added the conversion (6-6), but then Eccles took a two score lead.


On 22 minutes Martin Judge was stopped on the line and Openshaw sent Lund crashing over for his second try. This time Muscat was unable to convert (10-6) but he was on target again 5 minutes later after Lund off-loaded out of the tackle for Candland to score wide out (16-6).


Although Eccles were largely in control, the home side made a break on 32 minutes through Ethan Kelly only for his brother Adam Kelly to drop the ball as he crossed the line, and after that let off Millom won a drop out a minute from the whistle with Ben Robinson coming to the rescue to run a dangerous kick dead.


After the break Eccles resumed control and hit the home side with two quick-fire tries in two minutes, the first converted by Muscat. On 49 minutes Will Rigby fed Lund 25 metres from the line and the big Aussie powered through the defence to complete his hat trick (22-6), then Edwards, Mike O’Boyle and Barry moved the ball quickly across the field for Christian Higgins to score in the corner (26-6).


At this point it seemed that Eccles were in no danger what so ever, but all credit must go to the Millom club for a late rally that left Eccles hanging on desperately for the points. On 64 minutes Dan White sent Jonathon Hodgson over in the corner and Evans added a brilliant conversion (26-10), but Evans was unable to repeat his feat on 71 minutes after Ethan Kelly also scored in the same corner (26-16).


Eccles’ coach Paul Raftery was seething on 75 minutes when Paul Evans stretched out of a tackle to score his second try and add the conversion (26-22) but his Eccles side defended desperately in the last 5 minutes to hang on for victory.



Team:  Andrew Muscat (3g), Christian Higgins (1T), Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Ben Robinson, Steve Barry, Will Rigby, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Marc Jones, Mike O’Boyle, Jayden Lund (3T), Payden Candland (1T), Matthew Gillian, Martin Davidson, Alex Edwards, Zacky Sajjad



Referee:- Mr. Stewart Kilpatrick (Oldham).

Saturday 12th April 2014

National Conference Division 1




All the signs were bad for Eccles leading up to the visit of 100% league leaders Oulton Raiders, with winger Mike McGrath moving away to Southampton and scrum half Mike Carney having a operation on his hand that will keep him out for 6 weeks. They did welcome back Matthew Gilligan to the fold but having lost on all 9 previous meetings with the Leeds outfit it was going to take a mammoth effort to get anything out of the game. They did actually produce that mammoth effort, and once again the tremendous team spirit was evident, but a late score gave the result a look that did not reflect the Eccles effort.

Eccles had slightly the better of the opening exchanges until they fell for a 70 metre interception try from Dominic Flanaghan on 14 minutes that the impressive Danny Stanley converted (0-6), but Eccles reduced the arrears just 3 minutes later. Marc Jones was stopped on the try line and Richard Openshaw sent Jayden Lund bursting through the defence for his 12th try in 7 games. Jordan Parker’s conversion attempt missed (4-6) and Eccles remained 2 points adrift until the half hour mark when Raiders’ Andy Tillett broke through two tackles on the wing and cut inside to put the ball down between the posts, leaving Stanley an easy conversion (4-12).

Eccles suffered another blow on 36 minutes when Danny Trimble suffered a knee injury that required an ambulance, but Eccles got back into the game just two minutes from the break when Christian Higgins “juggled” a long pass from Openshaw before getting it down just inside the corner flag. Parker again found the angle too tight to convert (8-12).

The second half started with the Leeds outfit in the ascendancy and twice in the opening 7 minutes they forced Eccles into goal line drop outs with first Ben Robinson being tackled in goal and then Andrew Muscat 2 minutes later. Eccles’ rearguard eventually buckled on the hour though when Danny Stanley forced his way over the line, although he missed the kick which looked easier than his previous two (8-16).

Eccles conceded a third drop out on 66 minutes when a kick to the in-goal was chased by Flanaghan and Higgins kicked the ball to safety, but it seems that that was just what Eccles needed to kick-start them back into action. Eccles finished the game the stronger side, desperately trying to rescue the points, but it took until the 77th minute to force a goal line drop out with Jones making a tackle in goal. Two minutes later the Eccles crowd sensed a chance when Openshaw’s long pass sent Mike O’Boyle racing between the sticks, but just as the referee seemed set to award the try a touch judge ruled that the pass was forward. To add insult to injury the Eccles team seemed to switch off and Danny Stanley made good yardage from the play the ball before Flanaghan scored his second try in the corner. Stanley’s conversion attempt failed again (8-20) but it didn’t matter as there was no time to re-start the game.


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins (1T), Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Ben Robinson, Will Rigby, Jordan Parker, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Payden Candland, Jayden Lund (1T, MoM), Danny Trimble, Mike O’Boyle, Steve Barry, Matthew Gilligan, Alan Wands

Saturday 29th March 2014

National Conference Division 1




For the second successive away game Eccles travelled to Yorkshire with a substitute short due to injuries, retirements and work commitments but the team spirit was once again evident as they turned pulled off an unlikely looking victory after being 10 points behind with just 8 minutes remaining.  Jayden Lund scored his 11th try in 6 games and centre Martin Judge had a top game in defense. Steve Barry also gave a good account of himself on his return to the side, but for his all round performance and kicking the last gasp winning conversion from the touchline, the man of the match award went to Mike Carney.


In the first half nobody would have given Eccles a chance of winning the game as the home side dominated. They opened the scoring on 9 minutes when Eccles were drawn into the middle and quick hands to the wing enabled Ben Spaven to score wide out with Ryan Chalkley adding a great conversion (0-6). From the re-start Carney’s kick was allowed to go dead forcing the home side to drop out from under the sticks but they withstood all Eccles threw at them and responded with Derrell Opherts squeezing through a gap on 24 minutes for a try that change kicker Danny Flowers found too difficult to convert (0-10). Flowers did convert the next try though when Ross Roebuck handed off two would be tacklers to score in the corner (0-16).


A big home win looked likely at this stage but Eccles got a lifeline 3 minutes from half time when Carney’s high kick was dropped by full back Opherts and Carney swooped on the loose ball to send Tom Pratt scampering over for a try that Carney converted (6-16).


Eccles looked like a different team in the second half as they took the game to the Dewsbury side but it wasn’t until on the hour that they made the break though when a short pass from Richard Openshaw saw Marc Jones stretch out of a tackle for a try that Carney converted again (12-16). Eccles then threw everything into attack, searching for a winner but they fell for a “sucker punch” with just 8 minutes left to play. Lund knocked on on the half way line and as most players waited for the referee to blow for a scrum the Sharks’ Greg Wilby hacked the ball forward and followed up to score between the sticks. Flowers converted (12-22) and the home players appeared to relax in the knowledge that they had the game won, but Eccles had other ideas.


Just four minutes from time Lund made up for his earlier error by charging over the line for a try that Carney again converted (18-22), and Eccles once again had the sniff of victory. Just two minutes later the unfortunate Opherts dropped another high kick from Carney and Jordan Parker was first to react, passing to Will Rigby who sent substitute Christian Higgins racing over right in the corner. The home side supporters tried hard to put Carney off his shot but the stand off kept his nerve to kick Eccles to an outstanding victory (24-22).


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Mike McGrath, Martin Judge, Tom Pratt (1T), Ben Robinson,Mike Carney (4G, MoM), Will Rigby, Danny Trimble, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones (1T), Mike O’Boyle, Jayden Lund (1T), Payden Candland, Christian Higgins (1T), Steve Barry, Jordan Parker.



Referee:- Mr. Peter Parker (Hull).

Saturday 22nd March 2014

National Conference Division 1




Eccles lost at home for the first time this season in a game played by two very committed sides, in atrocious conditions. The visitors had much the best of the first half, and with the slope in the second half they expected to improve their lead, but it was Eccles who came out much more “fired up” after the break, and at the end of the day they were very unlucky to lose. Eccles officials were left querying the match officials for a decision not to give Richard Openshaw a penalty try when he was pulled back when he was set to touch down a kick to the in goal. That would have been a try next to the posts and a conversion would have given Eccles victory, although, on the balance of play a draw would have been a fair result.


Marc Jones was missing for Eccles but Danny Trimble moved into the front row and put in an excellent display, as did Payden Candland at loose forward - but the man of the match this week went to Aussie second rower Jayden Lund who scored his 10th try in 5 games!


The opening quarter belonged entirely to the Wakefield side, with Eccles rarely getting over the advantage line, and after they forced a goal line drop out on 10 minutes when Mike O’Boyle took a kick, but was trapped in goal, then they opened the scoring on 16 minutes when Adrian Mulcahy sent Reece Hampshire over the whitewash, although too far out for Mulcahy to add the extras (0-4). Mulcahy did manage to convert the second try though, in the 22nd minute, after the visitors’ star man Johnny Hodgson scored (0-10).


At this point a “drubbing” looked on the cards for Eccles but instead they slowly forced their way back into the game. On the half hour Jordan Parker and Mike McGrath who was playing his last game for Eccles after securing work in Southampton, chased a kick to make a tackle in goal, forcing a goal line drop out, then 2 minutes later Candland claimed a try in the corner off a long pass from Parker but a touch judge ruled he was short. Eccles finally got on the scoreboard on 5 minutes from the break a with a passing movement involving Openshaw, Mike Carney and Parker ending with Lund crashing through the defense to score and Carney adding the conversion (6-10).

The second half started with Eccles very much in the ascendancy, but it wasn’t until the 55th minute that they got a reward when Openshaw fed O’Boyle who off loaded out of the tackle for Carney to scamper over for a try, although his conversion attempt just missed (10-10). It was all Eccles now and it was at this point that Openshaw was controversially denied a try.


With the score tied and defenses on top it was going to take something special to break the deadlock and Mulcahy came up with it on 67 minutes when he kicked a long distance drop goal out of the mud and it sailed between the posts (10-11).

On 70 minutes Normanton forced another drop out when Andrew Muscat was tackled in goal, but apart from that it was all out Eccles attack, in search of the winner, until they fell for a counter attack on 73 minutes which saw Ryan Kelsey score an unconverted try (10-15) for the Wakefield side. Eccles tried valiantly to reply but the visiting defense held firm and the only other attempt at goal was another Mulcahy drop goal attempt 3 minutes from time, but he was unable to repeat his earlier effort.


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Mike McGrath, Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Ben Robinson, Mike Carney (1T, 1G), Will Rigby, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw, Danny Trimble, Mike O’Boyle, Jayden Lund (1T, MoM), Payden Candland, Simon Brown, Mike Foster, Jordan Parker, Alan Wands.

Referee:- Mr. Craig Kay (Wigan).

Saturday 15th March 2014

National Conference Division 1




For the second successive home match Eccles defeated a team that were playing in the premier division last season, and they did it the hard way, coming back from a half time deficit to win a thrilling game that was in the balance until the last 8 minutes. Big Aussie forward Jason Lund scored his 9th try in 4 games and young winger Eze Harper his 5th but the man of the match award went to 2 try influential captain Richard Openshaw.


Eccles opened the scoring after just 4 minutes when Openshaw sent Lund crashing over for his first try wide out and Jordan Parker added a brilliant conversion (6-0), but 4 minutes later the scores were level when Kris Walker spun out of a tackle to score a try that Ashley James converted (6-6). The visitors then took the lead on 11 minutes with a score that had more than an element of luck about it. A speculative low kick by Nathan Slater rebounded off an Eccles defender straight back into Slater’s arms and he gleefully scored between the sticks, leaving Ashley James an easy kick (6-12).


Eccles equalized on 23 minutes when Openshaw kicked low on the last tackle, and despite a defender getting a hand to the ball Openshaw responded fastest to score a try that Parker again improved (12-12), but Myton restored the lead again 4 minutes later when Richard Dunham barged his way over between the sticks and Ashley James kicked the conversion (12-18). Eccles gave themselves a lifeline on 34 minutes though when Mike Carney’s pass was knocked on by a defender and Tom Pratt swooped on the loose ball to send Harper over in the corner. With Parker off the pitch injured Carney took over the kicking duties but just missed (16-18). Eccles might have taken a half time lead two minutes from the whistle except for Myton winger Mike Beecher holding down Pratt too long to prevent a quick play the ball, which resulted in a sin binning for the Hull man.


Eccles started the second half as they did the first and after Marc Jones was held up on the line just 3 minutes into play Openshaw scooted over for a try from the play the ball and Carney notched his first conversion (22-18). Myton’s response was swift however, and just 4 minutes later Nathan Slater got the ball down in the corner. Ashley James’ only miss of the afternoon left the scores level at 22-22.


On 55 minutes Mike O’Boyle was stopped on the try line and Openshaw was the provider again as Harper scored just inside the corner flag. Carney’s touch line kick unluckily hit a post (26-22) but luck did smile on Eccles in 72nd minute. Carney kicked high on the last tackle and the ball bounced back kindly into the hands of Will Rigby who sent Carney over for a try that he also converted (32-22).


Eccles secured the points two minutes from time when Openshaw yet again set up Lund for his second try, which Carney converted (38-22), but there was still time for the Hull side to get a consolation. A hopeful kick towards the sticks saw Muscat slip on a muddy patch as he went to collect the ball and Slater took advantage to score his hat trick try and as Ashley James added the conversion the referee blew for full time (38-28).


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Mike McGrath, Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Eze Harper (2T), Jordan Parker (2G), Will Rigby, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw (2T, MoM), Marc Jones, Michael O’Boyle, Jayden Lund (2T), Danny Trimble, Ben Robinson, Mike Carney (1T, 3G), Payden Candland, Mike Foster.


Referee:- Mr. John McMullen (Wigan).

Saturday 8th March 2014

National Conference Division 1




Eccles travelled across to Leeds to face promotion favourites Milford Marlins with only 3 substitutes as injuries already affect their first team playing squad, but still gave a great account of themselves before losing the game in the cruelest of fashions. It would be fair to say that on this occasion the best team lost, as the first time that Eccles went behind in the game was to the winning try, 3 minutes from full time.  Jayden Lund became the third Eccles player to score a hat trick of tries in 3 successive weeks and both front row forwards Marc Jones and Adam Walker played the full 80 minutes but the man of the match award went to second rower Mike O’Boyle for some awesome tackling.


Eccles opened the scoring on 10 minutes when Jones was stopped close to the line and Openshaw sent Lund crashing through the defense for his first try which Jordan Parker converted (6-0), and they doubled the advantage 5 minutes later. This time Openshaw and Will Rigby combined to set up Lund who barged through 3 defenders to grab has second try, with Parker again converting.


The hosts opened their account on 18 minutes when Whetu Austin broke the line and sent Brad Ibbison over in the corner, too far out for Ryan Oxtoby to add the conversion (12-4) and that is how the score remained until 4 minutes from half time. Walker was hauled down right on the try line and from the play the ball Openshaw fed Parker who spotted Lund on the rampage and he twisted out of a tackle to score his hat trick, his 7th try in 3 games. Unfortunately the big Aussie injured his ankle and shoulder in the process of scoring and took no further part in the game. Parker missed with the conversion attempt, his only miss of the day (16-4).


Milford were awarded a penalty, for “ripping” the ball out with two in the tackle, right in front of the posts and realizing that it was only seconds from half time Oxtoby went for goal and scored (16-6). There was still time for more drama however as Eccles retained the ball from the re-start and Mike McGrath took a high tackle on the half way line. Parker’s kick was to be the last action of the first half and his long range effort was true, sailing between the sticks to give Eccles a 18-6 half time lead.

Four minutes into the second half Eccles lost influential captain Openshaw with an eye injury and the home side took advantage immediately with John Plunkett diving over the line and Oxtoby converting (18-12). With only one fit substitute left on the bench it was always going to be a case of holding on for the Salford team, but they did get a welcome break just before the hour mark. Jones off-loaded to Parker then Tom Pratt passed for Christian Higgins to race 20 metres and score just inside the corner flag. Again Parker added a brilliant conversion (24-12).


Eccles held the 12 point advantage until 11 minutes from time when James Coates sent Nathan Currie over in the corner for a unvconverted try (24-16) and from that moment on Milford laid siege to the Eccles try line, with only a try saving tackle from Walker keeping them out. The Eccles rearguard did buckle again however on 75 minutes James Barry barged through a tired defense to score. Sam Clayton took over Milford’s kicking duties but he also missed to keep Eccles in front 24-20.

The sickening blow for Eccles came just 3 minutes from time when a hopeful high kick bounced out of reach of the Eccles defenders and Oxtoby levelled the game with a walk in try. Oxtoby resumed the kicking duty for Milford and his conversion denied Eccles a deserved share of the points (24-26).


Referee:- Mr. Callum Straw (Wakefield).


Team:  Andrew Muscat, Christian Higgins (1T), Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Mike McGrath, Jordan Parker (4G), Will Rigby, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones, Michael O’Boyle (MoM), Jayden Lund (3T), Mike Foster, Danny Trimble, Payden Candland, Alan Wands.

Saturday 1st March 2014

National Conference Division 1




Eccles braced themselves for a stern test against a side that were playing in the premier division last season, although it seems that relegation had cost the Wigan club the services of a few players who transferred to stay in the premier division. Never the less, the replacements that were brought in for the visitors gave 100% but never looked like getting anything from an Eccles side that have started the season very brightly. Indeed, Eccles could have won this game by a much bigger margin only for a few individual errors, not keeping hold of the ball.


For the second week running one of last seasons’ under 18’s, this time Eze Harper scored a hat trick of tries and new Aussie signing Jason Lund made it 4 tries in 2 games, whilst Jordan Parker was again impressive, but all 3 were “pipped” for the  man of the match by all action hooker and captain – Richard Openshaw.


Eccles opened the scoring on 9 minutes when Parkers’ long pass saw Harper beat his opposing winger Ben Jones to touch down just inside the corner flag, albeit too far out for Parker to convert (4-0), then, on 17 minutes, Openshaw stole the  ball in a one on one tackle before passing for Parker to send Harper over again in the same corner, but again the angle was too tight for Parker to convert (8-0).

On 23 minutes a break by Joe White led to a try in the corner for the visitors’ Ryan Eccleston and Danny Cassidy added a great conversion from the touchline (8-6). At this point it is worth noting that the first penalty of the game came on 27 minutes for accidental obstruction and credit should go to both teams and referee Liam Moore for an eventual penalty count of 5 each with only a couple for foul play.

Anyhow, back to the game and Eccles ensured a 12-6 half time lead with Harpers’ hat trick try coming in the 34th minute after a great run from Marc Jones and a long pass to the wing from Openshaw. With Parker struggling with a groin strain Andrew Muscat took over the kicking duties and was very unlucky with a difficult shot.


RoseBridge came out for the second half with “all guns blazing” but were sickened just 2 minutes in when Eccles increased the advantage to 12 points. Steve Barry was stopped 10 metres out and from his play the ball Openshaw sent Lund crashing over for a try that Muscat converted (18-6).

The third quarter continued to be Inces’ best period of the game though, until the game breaker came just before the hour mark. Lund was hauled down by 3 defenders 10 metres from the line and Marc Jones took advantage of the space created to take Openshaws’ perfect long pass and “stroll” over next to the post, leaving Muscatan easy conversion (24-6).


The “icing on the cake” for Eccles came 5 minutes from time when Adam Walker played the ball quickly, close to the line, and Openshaw’s reverse pass enabled Lund to dive through the defense and score a try that Muscat again converted (30-6).


Referee:- Mr. Liam Moore (Wigan).


Team:  Andrew Muscat (3G), Mike McGrath, Martin Judge, Tom Pratt, Eze Harper (3T), Jordan Parker, Will Rigby, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw (MoM), Marc Jones (1T), Michael O’Boyle, Jason Lund (2T), Mike Foster, Danny Trimble, Steve Barry, Payden Candland, Alan Wands.

Saturday 22nd February 2014

Friendly Challenge Match




First division Eccles got the 2014 season off to a flying start, under new coach, former Barrow and South Wales Scorpions pro - Paul Raftery, with an impressive 46-20 victory away at second division Leigh East. New Australian forward Jayden Lund scored 2 tries on debut while stand off Jordan Parker weighed in with 18 points and young centre Tom Pratt scored a hat-trick of tries in 6 minutes, but for his all round solid performance in attack and defense the man of the match accolade went to second row forward Marc Jones.


Eccles gave early notice of their intentions by forcing a goal line drop out after only 2 minutes when Mike Foster, Martin Judge and Lund chased Parkers’ high kick to make a tackle in goal, but it was an even game up to Eccles taking the lead on 14 minutes when Jones sent Parker through a gap for the opening try, which Parker also converted (6-0).


Eccles doubled the advantage 3 minutes later when a high kick from Parker was spilled by full back Steve Grundy and Andrew Muscat swooped to send Christian Higgins racing over. Parker added the conversion (12-0) and then nudged Eccles further ahead with a 25 metre penalty, given for ball stealing with two in the tackle on 26 minutes (14-0).


On the half hour Eccles hit a real “purple patch” that saw Pratt come up with his 6 minute hat trick. First, Alan Wands’ pass was tipped on by Parker for Pratt to race in (20-0), then a great long pass from Parker saw Higgins make 40 metre break across the half way line before passing inside for Pratt to go over (26-0), and finally quick passing involving Richard Openshaw, Muscat and Mike O’Boyle saw Pratt go in for his third. Parker, who converted the first 2 tries recorded his first miss (30-0).


Right on the half time whistle the home side got on the scoreboard when a long kick to the corner saw Gavin Hunter score, and Ryan Peters added an excellent touch line conversion (30-6). That score gave East a boost and they threw everything at Eccles in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, only to be thwarted time and again by resolute defending, then, on 51 minutes, Eccles broke away for another Parker converted try. Muscat caught a high kick midway into his own half and saw space in front of him, racing 70 metres for his try (36-6).


East hit back again just 2 minutes later when Hunter broke down the wing and passed inside to send Sam Grainey between the sticks for a try that Peters converted (26-12), but Eccles responded immediately. From the re-start Parker managed to get the ball dead, forcing a goal line drop out and 3 tackles later Lund powered over next to the post, leaving Parker an easy conversion (42-12).


 On 61 minutes Eccles recorded their final try of the afternoon when Lund charged over for his second try off a smart pass from Openshaw, although this time Parker was off target with the conversion attempt (46-12), and credit must go to the home side for not only keeping Eccles at bay for the remaining quarter but also adding 2 unconverted tries in the last 2 minutes. Adam Holland scored the first off a kick to the corner again and then Gareth Jones dived over in the same corner. Peters found the angle too tight both times and as his final kick fell short the referee called time on an entertaining game.


Referee:- Mr. Craig Hill (St. Helens).


Team:  Andrew Muscat (1T), Christian Higgins (1T), Martin Judge, Tom Pratt (3T), Mike McGrath, Jordan Parker (1T, 7G), Will Riby, Adam Walker, Richard Openshaw, Marc Jones (MoM), Michael O’Boyle, Jayden Lund (2T), Mike Foster, Zacky Sajjad, Steve Barry, Tom Partington, Alan Wands, Eze Harper.

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