Warrington U16s 18 Hoppers U16s 17
Blacksticks Blue Lancashire Cup 4th Round.
Hoppers were away from home against Warrington for the rescheduled 4th round of the Cup, and it was amazing that the tie was on at all given the terrible floods in the North West. The conditions were actually not that bad, wet and windy but compared to Lancashire they were OK. Unfortunately, several players were simply unable to get out of north Lancashire, so the planned 18 squad, already affected by our long injury list, was down to a bare 15 to play the game.
Hoppers kicked off on their very small pitch, and Warrington dominated the first exchanges with some very strong forward play. Hopper’s defence was strong and particularly Harvey and Tom W in the centre put pressure on their backs to make sure they did not have any real opportunities. Hopper’s forwards were doing well and more than holding their own in the tight and lineouts, and the back row were having to work overtime in their tackling, with a particularly key tackle from Lewis on their big No 8. Charlie had an excellent game at scum half, looking dangerous around the base, and defending heroically at times round the fringes to keep the strong Warrington forwards at bay.
Hoppers had several dangerous attacks through our backs, and we were attempting to move the ball despite the bad weather, but a combination of good Warrington defence and poor ball retention at times meant that we did not score an opening try in the first quarter of the game, despite having turned the possession and territory around from the opening exchanges.
The first score of the game, by Tom N, came from a penalty to Hoppers to make the score 3-0, and after some great defence over a sustained period defending our line, Jake scored our opening try. After an excellent move on our right flank, Jamie broke down the right wing. As he was about to be tackled, he showed great awareness to chip the ball back in field in front of their posts. Their full back was wrong footed, and in the difficult conditions spilled the ball for Jake to pounce and score, demonstrating that working hard to support really pays off. 10-0, conversion made by Tom N. Hoppers lads were all playing well in the difficult conditions and despite having good possession and territory did not add to the score before half time.
Warrington kicked off the second half and put Hoppers under pressure immediately, but again Hoppers defended very strongly. After a long period of pressure in our half, with multiple penalties against and numerous ‘calls’ for possession going against us in the set pieces, Warrington opened their account with a penalty. 10-3 to Hoppers. Hoppers then scored again with a great try. Tom W charged down a Warrington kick, and Harvey recovered brilliantly to secure possession: winning quick ball Jamie, was put away for a break down the right wing and before being tackled into touch, he threw the ball inside to Lewis who was backing up in a great position. From 25m out he showed great pace and skill to sidestep the cover and score. 17-3, kick made by Tom N.
This should have sealed the victory for Hoppers, but having had to defend hard throughout the match we started to tire, and we had no subs to refresh the team at this stage. Warrington scored with an individual break from one of their backs, against our tiring defence to make the score 17-10. At this stage we still thought that we had the victory as there was little time to go. Warrington though scored again with us seemingly unable to secure possession, despite defending resolutely. 17-15, kick missed as they had scored out wide on our left. After what seemed an age, the ref called ‘last play’ with Warrington having a scrum. They moved the ball along their backs to about our 22 and just when the victory seemed secure, the ref judged a high tackle. The Warrington kicker held his nerve well with a hushed crowd, and made the kick to give them the win 18-17.
Congratulations to Warrington who played out of their skins, and this gives them a chance of qualification to the quarter finals. Hoppers were really gutted to lose with the last kick, as everything seemed to go against us on the day, starting with players who were unable to get to the game due to the floods. The lads, though, played really well and gave everything – we could not have asked for more. We had just tired enough to let Warrington back in the game right at the end. Despite losing our second game, qualification from the group is still in Hoppers hands, and we will regroup and get back to our winning ways in the next round vs Manchester.