Last week a “Weather Bomb” exploded over parts of the United Kingdom and some of its fall out could be found at Powder House Lane as the Vale of Lune were subjected to quite a pounding from a highly efficient Eccles pack in a defeat that could be rated as one of the major surprises of the North One West season so far.
The Eccles eight wasted no time in introducing themselves to the Vale bundling the home side into some disparate defending in their twenty two and might have taken the lead in the second minute but Reece James’s penalty failed to find the target.
Gradually the Vale began to gel but they found it difficult to deflect all the close attentions from Eccles who knew exactly how to consolidate field position and providing they could deny the Vale any opportunity to get on the front foot then all would be well.
Towards the end of the first quarter the Vale began to play with more combined conviction.
Billy Swarbrick made a lightning solo break, Sam Wallbank charged into the heart of Eccles defence and Matthew Humpage made a delightful break.
All Vale’s ambition was thwarted by a well organised Eccles’s defence.
James missed with a second penalty but still the stalemate continued, the curse of the dropped pass haunted the Vale as Eccles resolutely stood their ground, knowing that sooner or later the Vale’s ideas would dry up with a coughed up pass being the most likely outcome.
Just before half time the Vale were subjected to sustained forward pressure deep in their twenty two. The Eccles power was harnessed in a drive that ended with skipper Mark Greenhalgh, who had an inspired game at prop, bullocking his way over from close range, his try being converted by James.
The second half followed very much the pattern of the first forty.
Eccles decided which areas of the pitch the game was to be played; Vale did their upmost to break the mould but there was little continuity to their efforts, players became isolated and once halted Eccles invariably turned over the ball.
Occasionally a flashing Vale move pierced the gloom, Humpage, Jake Squirrell, Ben Dorrington Ollie Dobson and Rob Lamberton all made decisive runs but despite the hints being dropped, the Eccles twenty two remained the domain of seagulls for long periods, who were happily poking and prodding around for long periods.
The game eventually petered to a halt and at the final whistle few could deny applauding Eccles for their efforts in a made to measure performance that ended with a victory on their first visit to The Lane at this level.