Eccles 11-31 Vale

James Birchall.
James Birchall.

The Vale recorded their first double of the season with a most spirited and determined performance away at Eccles after being 11-7 behind at half time to kick on and collect maximum points.

An early arrival at Gorton Street allowed coach for the day, Paul Maclaren-Dorrington extra time to go through drills but he was handicapped when brother Ben turned an ankle in the warm up and began the game on the replacement’s bench, although he did join the action during the fist half.

Vale made a rather lethargic opening playing up the slight slope and fell behind to a fifth minute penalty goal from winger Reece James.

The same player went over in the corner for an unconverted try in the fourteenth minute, a score that was hotly debated by the Vale supporters who were close to the action and thought a foot had gone into touch.

Gradually the Vale eased their way into the game and although James kicked a penalty in the 30th minute the remainder of the half belong to the Vale.

In the 35th minute the ball was floated accurately along Vale’s back line, winger James Birchall accelerated onto a pass to race round for a well taken try converted by Dorrington.

Vale started to probe the Eccles defence, Dorrington, Jonty Higgin and Charlie Lomas combined in a sweeping attack and the half ended with the visitors high stepping their way deep in Eccles territory.

In the 50th minute Dorrington was off target with a penalty attempt but from the resultant drop out Sam Wallbank gathered the ball and set off on an awesome individual charge for the line for a magnificent try, converted by Dorrington, to give the Vale the lead.

This score marked the turning point of the game and the coach, sensing that Eccles were vulnerable when the tempo increased, brought two highly talented, ball handling threequarters into the action in the shape of Fergus Owens and Jack Turton, who was making his first senior appearance since the end of the 2013/14 season.

Quick thinking by Dorrington led to the Vale’s next score when he swiftly latched onto an Eccles knock on to streak away for an opportunists try which he converted in the 54th minute.

To cries of “turn the screw Vale!” from the terraces the Vale went in search of further points but despite all their hidden promise they had to wait until the 73rd minute for their bonus try.

Owens was instrumental in setting the move in motion with one of his languid runs before Higgin went striding though for an unconverted try.

Playing with increasing authority the Vale not only dealt with a rare Eccles drive in their 22 but launched a cheeky counter attack only metres from their own line that featured Rhys Randall, Owens, Higgin, Turton and Birchall that forced Eccles to scramble back to deny the Vale a try.

Vale’s final score, of a productive second half, came in the 81st minute when the highly rated young prop Aiden Yates forced his way over for his first senior try in only his second start, although he has come off the bench on three occasions to end the game on a high note.