Eccles crumble under Fleetwood pressure
Having already beaten Eccles earlier in the season Fleet were eager to take the spoils again this time at home.
With a victory to build on from last week the Green and Gold men were confident they could follow it up over on King George playing fields.
As in previous weeks Fleet were quickly on their game, flanker George Orry and hooker Devon Brown making useful early breaks. Within 5 minutes it was centre Karl Bowling who dazzled the crowd with a mazy run deep into the visitors territory, the supporting prop Ricky Newton was on hand to keep the momentum going. The referee awarded a penalty for Eccles being offside, no.8 Scott Richardson made no mistake as he slotted it home, making it 3-0. Constant pressure from Fleet resulted in another penalty after the visitors pulled down a rolling maul, however the decision not to go for goal ended with a miss for touch. Despite this Eccles were doing all the defending and could not move forward from their own half, scrum half Gavin Rowell put in a beautiful cross field kick which was nearly gathered by winger Alex Ogden. Although Fleet were continuing to increase the tempo Eccles were hanging on as the final pass was not quite going to hand. Following a scrum play broke down and a slight melee ensued- unfortunately Rowell was identified as the aggressor so was despatched to the bin. Eccles briefly ventured into their hosts half only for Richardson to put in a long range grubber kick. With the psychological edge at the scrum the green and gold pack fancied their chances, not surprisingly Richardson showed great ball control at the base before touching the ball down over the line, making it 8-0 conversion missed. With plenty of possession, similar to last week Brown was finding his range at the lineout as he connected with second row Rob Brookfield. In turn the likes of fly half Paul Bamber had plenty of options, both centres Bowling and Mike Kelly were making plenty of yards with ball in hand. The collective effort to counter ruck their opponents was roared by the spectators, as was some of the huge tackles by Richardson and Orry. The superlative Jordan Brocklehurst was making a real nuisance of himself at the breakdown , turning over ball at regular intervals, supported by the hard working second row James Lilley.
Within 30 seconds of the re-start Richardson was tackled around the neck, advantage Fleet as the weary Eccles team were reduced to 14 men. The home side were now dominating all areas, it was at times quite brutal as injuries were being sustained by the visitors. There was no let up in the intensity of the game both sides were tackling well, however the green and gold contingent were doing the majority of the attacking. Again, a further scrum allowed Fleet to dictate, after a big shove forward Richardson broke from the base to score his second try, extras missed making it 13-0. It looked like the floodgates might open but Eccles had other ideas as they continued to scrap for everything. Canadian kid Rowell made another break forward and then chipped the ball ahead, the attacking player was held back so penalty to Fleet. Opting for a scrum was the ideal tonic, Eccles knew what was coming next. Richardson broke from the base, drew his man before offloading to the eager Rowell who scampered over the whitewash to score, again no conversion taking it to 18-0. By this stage it should have been further home domination, however the foot was taken off the gas for a brief period. A lack of concentration saw Eccles capitalise from a kick forward into the opposition 22, the chasing player was blocked from reaching the ball. Rather than kick for penalty Eccles ran the ball, eventually they breached the defensive wall to score making it 18-5. Although both sides made further attempts to score neither could quite manage anything further of note.
After a hard fought battle a number of players stood out, backs wise Bowling was lively with ball in hand and Rowell despite his sin bin moment bossed it with some great runs and neat passing. Youngster Ogden was impressive particularly when he was in the attack. The area of dominance was created by the aggressive forward pack who all showed up well. Of note Newton displayed his ability in loose play, Brookfield was solid in all areas, whilst flankers Orry and Brocklehurst proved to be a handful. Overall, for his tackling and carrying it was the try scoring Richardson who was the stand out player nominated as man of the match.
Next week the trip over to Tarleton will be a much stiffer test as Fleet look to build on their rise in form.
Report by Dan Jefferson