Hoppers 2nd XV 68 Lymm 2nd XV 13
The seconds made it eight straight with a satisfactory rather than spectacular performance at Lightfoot Green on Saturday. As with most of their matches this season it was played in brilliant sunshine although the chill in the air confirmed that winter is well and truly on its way. To be honest Hoppers were caught a little cold by their visitors who took the lead inside three minutes. Lymm capitalised following some scrappy Preston play and kicked ahead to score a converted try on the left hand side.
The defending champions hit straight back and some powerful play by Ian Sibbit preceded a well finished try by the fit again Matt Hughes. Lymm extended their lead shortly after with a well taken penalty and Hoppers’ convincing victory against Fylde last week seemed like a distant memory. Young’s men finally roused from their winter hibernation and more good work from Hughes led to another unconverted try, this time for Cameron Berry. Hughes then got his second of the match after a break from Sibbit that begun right under the Hoppers posts. McGuire failed with the extras and the absence of recognised goal kicker Lewis Allen had become a source of irritation.
Man of the match Ally Murray then put former Bradford Bull Sibbit in for another score unders the posts and Hoppers led 22-10. Preston were starting to dominate with Morton and Hughes again prominent before Harry Reddick crossed for Hoppers’ fifth try of the game. Shortly before half-time Lymm helped themselves to what would be their final points as a high tackle from Martindale saw the Cheshire side reduce the arrears to 27-13.
Hoppers began the second half well and Napier grabbed himself a brace of tries, one of which was converted by Matt Gargett. The lead was quickly extended to 44-13 when Reddick scored the best try of the game after some excellent off-loading by that man Sibbit and Hughes. Second row Jon Wells crashed over after Lymm made a hash of a line out on their own line. It was one way traffic and Lymm could only focus on damage limitation.
Hoppers wrapped things up with an individual try for Ollie Yates before Reddick grabbed his hat trick after a planned move at scrum time. Matt Hughes then helped himself to the game’s final score with an excellent solo effort which took the final score to 68-13.
The victory kept Hoppers on the coat tails of leaders Caldy, although the men from the Wirral have played a game more. Hoppers remain the only unbeaten side in the Bateman Premier League but face three games in seven days. Next weekend sees them travel to Birkenhead Park before a midweek trip to Liverpool St Helens. Then, on the 10th November Hoppers host the leaders in a match that could well decide the destination of what could be described as the “minor Championship”.
Preston have all but secured their place in Conference A, knowing that they face a glut of tough games between now and May. As a result they refuse to get complacent, knowing full well that they are only as good as their next game. This was fully illustrated by their feelings of disappointment rather than delirium at the final whistle and they doubtless look forward to another tough week of training.