ECCLESHALL 1st XV chalked up another vital win in an eight-try thriller at second place Handsworth on Saturday.
HANDSWORTH 1st XV 27 ECCLESHALL 1st XV 34
The Baden Hall outfit bounced back from a convincing defeat at Stourbridge to produce a great display of running rugby and dogged defence to record a 34- 27 win, so completing a fine Midlands 3 West (North) double over Handsworth.
It was clear from the outset that both sides wanted to throw the ball around as both sets of backs were soon in to the game.
A turnover, deep in the Eccleshall 22, saw the visiting backs link well and release winger James Denning who off loaded to full back Sam Ward.
He would have finished off the move had he not been hauled down by the covering Handsworth winger but the tackle was adjudged to be dangerous and a penalty try was awarded which was converted by fly half Tom Hodgkinson.
The home side, who had shown good form over the past few weeks, were soon on the attack and their efforts were well rewarded scoring two tries in quick succession.
Eccleshall continued to threaten from all areas of the field with back row players Jake Brown and Paul Firth working hard to ensure that the visitors retained possession and the scores were levelled when inside centre Chris Whalley crashed through the Handsworth defence to score a try, again converted by Hodgkinson.
The visitors clearly had the upper hand as half time approached and good carrying from second row Johnny Sexton and props Joe Tomasik and Alex Parker saw Eccleshall camped in the home side’s 22.
Quick ball from the breakdown saw Hodgkinson side step his way through three defenders to score his fifth try in as many games which he converted to give Eccleshall a 21-14 lead at the break.
The second half started at a frantic pace and following infringements at the break down by both sides successful penalties were exchanged.
It was Eccleshall who broke the second half stalemate when centre Joel Williams chased a speculative clearance kick from Ward and stripped the Handsworth number 8 and jogged under the posts to score a unlikely try which again Hodgkinson converted.
Eccleshall were soon on the attack again and were awarded a penalty on the opposition ten metre line which Hodgkinson stroked through the upright to give the visitors a 20 point lead going in to the final quarter.
A frantic last 20 minutes ensued which saw Handsworth score two tries and as the final whistle approached they were with within one converted score of securing a very unlikely draw.
Only dogged defence by all 15 Eccleshall players kept the home side from drawing level and when the final whistle blew everyone knew that while the victory was hard-fought another five minutes might have seen a different result.
Eccleshall host now second in the table Newcastle at Baden Hall this Saturday in what is always a fiercely contested fixture.
The Baden Hall 2nd XV continued their unbeaten start to 2013 with a convincing 72-5 victory over St Leonards 2nd XV.