Vale of Lune’s melancholy September ended in their fourth consecutive North One West defeat against fellow strugglers Eccles, at Gorton Street.
Considering the importance of the fixture there were few signs of apprehension in the opening exchanges but there was a positivity about the approach adopted by Eccles, although the Vale responded in kind.
Stand off George Oakey missed a seventh minute penalty for Eccles but four minutes later they took the lead.
Vale were slow to organise their defensive network from a tap penalty move which resulted in Greg Wilson bustling his way over for an unconverted try.
Vale responded with a series of lively attacks and with the game neatly balanced Oakey swept a penalty attempt to the left of the posts in the 31st minute but the Vale countered with a splendid score two minutes later.
An attack surged down the left, replacement Fergus Owens cut back inside and with a delicate shimmy he raced behind the posts for a try; Tom Slater put over the conversion. At this stage of the game the Vale were at their expressive best, there was harmony in their play but with two minutes remaining Eccles took the wind out of their sails with a thrilling try that exploded into life 70 metres from Vale’ s goal line.
Oakey made a scything break before releasing centre Chris Fortune for a try converted by the number ten.
It was all Eccles at the start of the second half, the Vale grimly hung on, Jack Turton relieved the pressure with booming kicks downfield but the blue and whites were soon back hammering on Vale’s door.
Oakey kicked a penalty goal in the 52nd minute which only spurred Eccles on to dish out a little more pain and grief on the visitors.
The Eccles pack, which had begun to grow in stature, almost mauled their way over for a try but were held up in the 65th minute.
Eccles were not be denied and in the 68th minute the clamps were tightened even further and while the Vale struggled at scrum time the blue helmeted Freddie Oakey dived over for his try, converted by brother George.
Any hopes of the Vale coming into the game disappeared in the face of the tackling from the home side who hunted the ball carrier down like pack of hungry wolves.
The heroic efforts of replacement Sam Wallbank late on failed to change the result of a game that fell into the ‘must win’ category for both clubs.
*Kirkby Lonsdale maintained their unbeaten and 100% record to the North One West season with a 62-3 win over mid-table Rochdale at Underley Park on Saturday.
Despite falling 3-0 down early on, Kirkby responded with ten tries to win the game.