Hoppers 2s 56 Vale of Lune 2s 5
The second team remain unbeaten following a comprehensive victory over fellow Lancastrians Vale of Lune at Lightfoot Green on Saturday afternoon. Hoppers’ victory was never really in doubt although they will be a little disappointed as their first half performance could be described as erratic and even sloppy at times. However a much improved second half saw Young’s men approach something like the form they have shown in their first four games.
Vale fought bravely throughout and their forwards presented the home pack with a few problems at the set piece whilst Hoppers also lacked a decent kicking game. However the Preston defence was too strong for the visitors and Vale struggled to break the gain line whilst Hoppers frequently got in behind their opponents with direct and hard running.
Centre Ollie Yates opened the scoring with a fine individual try, Hoppers had a scrummage on their own ten metre line but the young centre spotted a gap and raced home. There then followed some slack play from both teams although Hoppers were enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory. Anthony Elliot scored Preston’s second with a mazy run in which he eluded four would be tacklers. The young winger had a fine game and is returning to the form which saw him feature heavily for the first team last season.
Hoppers third try came from Will Keenan as the home side made a mess of a Vale scrum. Some strong running by Reddick and prop Dan Madden created the space for the Manx flanker to power his way over on the left. The men from Lightfoot Green led 15-0 at half-time but in all honesty were playing better without the ball. This was reflected in the fact that they had forced three turnovers which led directly to their three scores.
Elliott bagged his second just after the break and replacement Horsfall added the extras. It was another fine individual effort from “Sausage” although his hat-trick score was arguably the pick of the bunch as it came directly from a first phase move that the Hoppers backs launched from a scrum. With the conversion secured Hoppers led 29-0 and the points were secured.
Preston stepped up the pace and Vale began to tire, the Hoppers pack produced a huge shove at scrum on the Vale line which allowed Alex Austin to score from the base. Austin, who moved to number eight this week quickly added a second as Hoppers began to add some much needed depth to their running. With the visiting defence struggling to cope with Hoppers pace and power it was little wonder that the men from Powderhouse Lane began to drop off their tackles.
Credit should go to the visitors though as they battled for eighty minutes and gained fortunate yet deserved consolation. Cameron Berry had spotted an overlap but the Vale full back read his pass, intercepting on the twenty two and sprinting home. The score was now 39-5 but Hoppers hit straight back with Berry keen to make up for his error. Some powerful play by our Kiwi skipper allowed Dan Madden to bullock his way over the line.
Hoppers’ penultimate score came from the returning Mark Murray who glided his way through three defenders after some typically dogged work by Conway at a Vale scrum. A degree of symmetry was added to the afternoon as Yates scored Preston’s final try following some excellent work by Reddick and Yates which saw Hoppers go through at least six or seven phases.
The win saw Hoppers leapfrog Fylde Hawks who had their wings clipped by Sedgley Tigers in what sounded an entertaining game down the M61. Preston are the only side with a 100% record in the Bateman Premiern League but if they look over their shoulders they will see a formidable chasing pack. Sedgley, Fylde, Caldy and Chester are all just one win away and will be waiting to pounce on any slip up by the champions.
Hoppers’ next fixture sees them travel down the East Lancs Road to face Liverpool St Helens on Friday night. Don’t forget to follow Hoppers on Twitter, Facebook or the website!