Eccles 21-28 Vale of Lune

Vale of Lune captain Sam Wallbank.
Vale of Lune captain Sam Wallbank.
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Vale of Lune came from behind to edge out Eccles in an absorbing contest on Saturday and make it two wins from two in the North One West this season.

The visitors arrived a little later than usual to the game and made a laboured start against an Eccles side that had suffered a heavy defeat at Carlisle in their opening game.

The home side quickly had their supporters purring when stand off Scott Morton put over a penalty goal in the sixth minute.

Ten minutes later Eccles increased their score when following a line out the ball was threaded through the pack and as the Vale retreated flanker Andrew Maddocks flashed over wide out for an unconverted try.

Slowly the Vale edged their way into the game, both Dan Baines and Sam Wallbank made determined charges for the line, but the error count began to rise.

When a Vale attack came to grief outside the Eccles’s 22 and the ball went free full back Freddie Oakey swept up the bobbling ball to race away for his try converted from in front by Morton.

Vale did not abandon their spirit of adventure, Tom Ball, Tom Smith, Scott Manning and Ben Dorrington all making purposeful charges but the Eccles defensive network proved difficult to unravel.

As a high tempo half drew to a close Eccles pushed the Vale deep into their own half forcing Billy Swarbrick, Adam Macluskie, man of the match Ian Bird, and Baines to put in some strong decisive tackles.

However, under intense pressure the Vale gave away a penalty which Morton kicked in the first minute of injury time.

Just as the Vale faced a big fat half time zero on the scoreboard and with Eccles looking in control, they registered their first score in the 44th minute.

After an untidy build up the Vale forwards surrounded the ball carrier and bulldozed their way over, lock Adam Foxcroft being awarded the try which Charlie Lomas converted.

This score might have saved some Vale blushes but six minutes into the second half the magic boot of Morton swung successfully again with his third penalty.

Two minutes later the Vale responded with a try from Billy Swarbrick however after Dorrington had split the Eccles defence with an onslaught full of power and muscular intent, Lomas converting from in front.

A game that at one stage appeared to be beyond the Vale’s reach was slowly turning in their favour and in the 50th minute they drew level.

Macluskie, who has hit a rich vein of form, broke away and kicked ahead, winger Chris Weeks was alert to what was happening, he collected the ball with the minimum of fuss to sprint over with Lomas again converting.

A neat line out move involving Baines and Wallbank almost produced a score as the Vale cranked up the volume in the final 10 minutes.

Macluskie, Dorrington were held up short, replacement scrum half Ollie Dobson tried to wriggle his way through, but with the clock ticking down a tie seemed the most likely outcome.

Victory was secured in the 74th minute however when Wallbank rounded off a true captain’s performance with a try.

From the base of a scrum 15 metres out the skipper exploded, and without hesitation he burst through tackles for his try, converted by Lomas.

There was no time to think it was job done because the game went into seven minutes of heart-stopping added time.

Eccles threw everything but the proverbial sink at the Vale but the visitors remained calm and held on for a big win.

Vale of Lune; T Ball, I Bird, A Macluskie, S Manning, C Weeks, C Lomas, B Swarbrick, T Smith, P Berry, P Maclaren-Dorrington, A Foxcroft, H Fellows, D Baines, B Dorrington, S Wallbank (capt). Replacements used: T Moreira, M Barker, O Dobson.