Vale 3rds successful at Eccles
Photos courtesy of Fred Swarbrick and words of wisdom.
Vale travelled to Eccles 2 hoping to reverse an earlier home defeat at that was inflicted on them in November. Once again hard work by skipper Joe Bebbington and Paul Scott produced a quality squad to travel to Gorton Street for the thirds longest away trip of the season. Following the postponement of the fourth’s fixture against Leigh, the addition of Paul Scott, Chris Ramwell and Alex Bateson, who all made themselves available to travel, is a huge reflection of the spirit within the club.
Vale with only one win so far this season under their belts were one place above Eccles in the bottom reaches of the table. The squad arrived early which allowed Joe and Paul ample time to lick them into shape for the coming battle in which points and pride were very much at stake.
On a pitch in fine condition the Vale found them under pressure and Eccles went ahead with an unconverted try wide out after eight minutes. Such an opening did not auger well for the Vale but they gradually eased themselves into contention.
A quickly take tap penalty in the fifteenth minute taken by the lively number nine, Connor Sherrard, brought the foraging Joe Wallbank into the action for a try converted by Ryan Fawcett, the centre having a productive day with the boot.
Suddenly the Vale began to exert pressure on Eccles in all areas. Sam Hoare produced a crunching tackle on the Eccles number eight, the ball was dislodged and quickly swept along the line for Ryan Fawcett to score under the posts and add the conversion in the seventeenth minute.
Vale were now operating as a solid unit with the front row of Joe Bebbington, Liam Houghton and Owen Brandford more than holding their own in the boiler house against and Eccles trio that cumulative weight was around the 60 stone mark.
Sam Hoare and Tom Needham were proving a formidable combination in the second row, vigorously competing in the close encounters at line out time.
In the twenty second minute, Sam Hoare, a real thorn in Eccles’s side, broke clear for a try converted by Ryan Fawcett. The back row of Andrew Waite, Man of the Match, number eight Steve Tagg, who also controlled the scrum superbly, and Joe Wallbabk were cleaning up any Eccles attacks.
Under the watchful gaze of his parents and girl friend who were on the touchline, after travelling up from Leicestershire, Connor Sherrard was proving a handful around the base, always alert for taking short penalties and providing his fly half, Dave Minikin, with a smooth service. Dave, who was enjoying a good game, released his threequarters at every opportunity but was fully prepared to keep the game tight when required.
A powerful maul close to the Eccles line resulted in a try for the triumphant Paul Scott who emerged from the melee to ground the ball, again Ryan Fawcett converted in the twenty ninth minute.
After achieving such dominance it was puzzling to see why the thirds are in the position they find themselves in. It was clear that there is both strength in depth and players with ability, but unfortunately Joe Bebbington has been unable to select a regular squad for the bulk of the season.
In the thirty seventh minute another pick up from Steve Tagg was followed by a slick pass to Sam Hoare resulted in a try for Sam which Ryan converted to end a half that had left Eccles drained after such an onslaught.
Chris Ramwell, who will play for any team and in any position, and is a dedicated clubman, was proving to be at his elusive best from fullback. Ryan Fawcett and Xavier Rubio were taking no prisoners and the obvious pace of Toby Holt and Mark Bower on the wings posed a constant threat throughout.
Owen Branford’s, a real workhorse of a player had his efforts rewarded with a score in the forty fifth minute which Ryan Fawcett duly converted. With the whole side playing freely and with energy levels of Eccles faltering the Vale went further ahead.
Steve Tagg made a clean break in the fiftieth minute; Connor Sherrard came up to score a try that was greeted with great delight from the touchline and again Ryan Fawcett added the extras.
Eccles made a determine effort to claw their way back into the game but Connor Sherrard prove quite capable of clearing any danger. Vale rang the changes; Alex Bateson and Lee Griffith were quickly into their stride and the momentum continued as the Vale continued to buzz.
On the hour Steve Tagg picked up at the base to score an unconverted try from thirty metres out. Six minutes later Toby Holt showed his undoubted pace when he round the home side’s full back, Sam Hoare appeared on his elbow run fifty metres to score between the posts, Chris Ramwell popped over the conversion.
In the closing ten minutes the Vale added to their score with further tries from Sam Hoare, converted by Chris Ramwell, Andrew Waite broke clear for his try, Chris again converting, before Toby Holt crossed the whitewash after Dave Minikin had made the initial thrust.
Referee Gary Stanley had enjoyed a good game, showing sympathy where necessary, but completely fair and independent and appreciating the noticeable difference between the two sides.
A difficult game now looms at home to Penrith on Saturday where the importance of players making themselves available early on becomes so important in ensuring that the challenge of moving out of the danger area is faced head on.