Hoppers qualified for the finals day in second place in the North Lancashire pool table behaind Vale of Lune, after a draw with them in round one of the group stages. Hoppers dropped another point to Blackburn in the rearranged round two, so had a point to prove as 2011 holders as they started the day. Hoppers were in pool A with Widnes, Leigh and Southport. Pool B looked a difficult group, with Vale, Ashton, Liverpool Collegiate and Manchester, the runners up last year.
Hoppers 30 Widnes 5.
The weather was kind — bright and sunny but cool, which is ideal conditions for the team as we like to play open, expansive rugby. The first game was Hoppers vs Widnes and we played in green shirts thanks to modern technology failing us in our planning for the day!
Hoppers ran out winners 30-5 with three tries to Douggie, one to Kieran and two to Jake. For some reason the ref did not allow conversions as was the case later on! After a blistering start the result was not in doubt from early on in the match, but a spirited Widnes outfit ran in a try, the only points Hoppers were to conceded all day.
Hoppers 21 Leigh 0.
After a dash back to Preston, we now had our white match shirts. Douggie started where he left off and scored a long range try early on as he broke down the Hoppers right. Converted by Kieran for 7-0. Leigh were a strong team and were more than holding their own in the forward battle, with a very large pack! Well done to our front row for matching up to them. As the game progressed the forwards started to have good success, and after a scrum against the head Harvey dummied, ran straight and hard from stand off to power over to make it 14-0 after a successful conversion. Half time.
The second half was a tight affair, with good runs from the Hoppers pack, notably from Al. Hoppers added one more try. After several phases from Leigh putting pressure on Hoppers, Sam M turned the ball over at the breakdown in good Sam Warburton style, and fed the ball to Kieran. The backs then spread the ball wide to Jake, who stormed down the Hoppers left flank to run in a try from inside our own half. Final score 21-0.
Hoppers 40 Southport 0.
Southport kicked off and Hoppers got into the grove straight away with a great run from Owen. Hoppers recycled well and put Kieran into space to run past half the Southport team to score. Kieran converted his own try, 7-0. Following strong runs from Jamie and Kieran and good continuity from the forwards Hoppers ran in their second try. From a line out to Southport Douggie won the ball and powered over to score, converted to make the score 14-0.
Hoppers were dominating now and following good work from Sam R and Matt C, Douggie rain another try to make the score 21-0. The score went to 28-0 after excellent pressure from Callum and the backs repelled a Southport attack and from the ensuing ruck Kieran was fed the ball to score another try.
The second half started with Hoppers attacking and following another strong run from Owen, Callum nearly scored in the corner, with Soutport being forced into conceding a 5m scrum. After their 5m scrum, Tom scored a great try to make the score 33-0 after a missed conversion. To their credit Southport kept on trying, and if it was not for a brilliant saving tackle by Harvey to hold up the player, Southport would have opened their account. Southport defended well, but Jake ran another long range try in, converted by Jamie, to make the score 40-0.
Hoppers 28 Vale 0.
Hoppers qualified as group winners, and played Vale who were runners up in Group B. the other semi was between Manchester and Leigh. The opening stages were very even with both sides playing some good rugby. Kieran was very dangerous putting in several strong runs, one stoppered by a very good tap tackle.eventually the first try came to Hoppers. After pressure on the Vale backs from Kieran, Callum and Jake, Kieran stripped the ball to put Harvey away on the Hoppers Left to score. Converted to make the score 7-0. Hoppers had more chances, but did not add more points before half time.
Hoppers had the ideal start to the second half, from the kick-off, Alastair flattened the Vale reciever, Sam M turned the ball over and the backs ran strongly with Callum feeding Kieran to score. Converted by Kieran to make the score 14-0. The tie was effectively settled as Kieran fielded the kick off and ran the length of the pitch to score, and convert to make it 21-0. Strong forward play meant that Vale could not get back into the game, and Douggie ran in another excellent long range try to make the final score 28-0.
Hoppers 21 Leigh 0.
It was quite a surprise that Leigh defeated last year’s finalists Manchester 14-7 to make the final as Hoppers opposition. Leigh were really up for it following their success and despite beating them in the pool matches, Hoppers knew they would have to be at their best to win the Trophy.
The game was as tight as expected in the first half, and Hoppers scored due to an amazing run and try from Harvey. Having done his trademark direct, powerful run from stand off it appeared that he was brought to ground. The tackle,though, was not complete, and he regained his feet to make another 10m — but on a third effort kept on driving to score.
The second half again was tight, but a great try from Kieran put Hoppers in a winning position. Near the end of the match, it was finally sealed with a close range try from Sam M. There was no way back for Leigh, and the final score was 21-0 to Hoppers.
The event was really well run and the lads and parents really appreciated the efforts of the hosts Wigan, particularly the refs and players from Wigan RUFC juniors who assisted. The result was even better when the U11 also won, making it the first time a club has won both U11 and U12 in the same tournament day.
All of the Hoppers lads who played throughout the rounds and final made a real contribution to winning the trophy for the second year running and the coaches were really proud of their achievement.