2nd XV beat Fylde

Date: 18 September 2017

Hoppers 2nd XV 40 –  Fylde Hawks 33

The second team maintained their unbeaten start to the Cotton Traders Premier League with a bonus point victory over their local adversaries, the Fylde Hawks.

By Ade Jebb.

As with their opening two fixtures the home side came from behind to secure the points and both sides can be proud of the entertainment they provided a healthy crowd on what was a pleasant early Autumn afternoon.

Hoppers were keen to start well having fallen behind early on in their clashes with Sale FC and Macclesfield. They got off to the perfect start as the Hawks lock fumbled the kick off and presented the home side an early opportunity to apply some early pressure. Hoppers made the most of their gift and with barely a minute gone Proctor powered over whilst former Hawk Jobe Roxby added the conversion.

Mawdsley’s side had a real foot hold and asserted dominance at the set piece. After seventeen minutes the impressive Rob Meadows, formerly of Wigan St Patrick’s, dived over. Although Roxby could not add the extras Hoppers had a healthy twelve point advantage.

Hoppers will be frustrated at how they let the Hawks back in the game as some poor discipline and sloppy defence saw Tom Beresford finish well. The home side compounded this at the restart with some poor handling of their own and Dexter Eaves, who looked threatening throughout, scored. Carlton added the conversion and Hoppers trailed 14-12.

The impressive Hawks back-line, well marshalled by Danny Carlton, looked to attack at every opportunity and exploited  a drop off in intensity from the Hoppers pack. With six minutes to go until the break Matt Frings was sin-binned for Hoppers and the Hawks capitalised, Ben Gregory scooting over.

The home side trailed 21-12 at the interval and after an impressive start Hoppers had seen all their good work undone by a combination of loose play, poor discipline and some quicksilver attacking rugby from the Hawks back division.

To a man Hoppers should be proud of the way they turned the game on its head, producing a four try salvo in just 18 minutes. With Frings back on, the pack took control of the game, both in the tight exchanges and with some decent interplay. Hoppers seemed destined for an early second half try but Torkington, who enjoyed a fine game, knocked on deliberately and the referee had no alternative but to produce a yellow card.

Just two minutes later the home side were back in the game as young hooker Connor Johnson picked up a pass on the Hawks twenty-two. With men outside him he scooted round the Hawks stand-off and finished impressively for a converted score. Johnson enjoyed a fine all round game, particularly at the line out, where his combination with Jack Granby gave Hoppers a steady stream of ball.

On fifty-five minutes the Hoppers forwards laid the platform for centre Jack Akrigg to scurry over. With Roxby’s conversion Hoppers were back in front, however the drama was only just beginning. With Browne prominent, Akrigg doubled his tally for the day some three minutes later following some lovely interplay down the left hand side. The seemingly unflappable Roxby made the conversion and Hoppers had a healthy 33-21 lead.

On sixty five minutes they turned the screw once more and the Hoppers faithful may have been wondering just how many more the home side might score. Skipper James Mawdsley blasted over for another converted try and Hoppers lead was now up to nineteen points.

The final ten minutes was no doubt enthralling for the neutral but it was excruciating for Jebb and Peterson in the technical area. The Hawks should be credited for the way in which they fought back but Hoppers were very nearly architects of their own destruction with some frantic and at times ill-disciplined play.

Firstly Akrigg was shown a yellow for a tip tackle and whilst there was no malice, on balance it was the correct decision. The Hawks saw a way back into the game and made camp on the Hoppers line. Tom Forster got himself trapped at the bottom of the breakdown and whilst he tried to get himself out of trouble he would also finish the game on the naughty step. Jake Foster reduced the arrears for the visitors and with the score now 40-28 the men from the Woodlands knew that two converted tries would be enough.

With seven minutes remaining there was more than enough time for the pendulum to swing once more but Hoppers composed themselves and nearly produced a seventh try of their own. The Hawks came back strongly once more and were given further hope when scrum half Moulding joined Forster and Akrigg in the bin. Hoppers were down to twelve and Carlton’s try for the Hawks set up a fraught and frantic last two minutes.

With a draw now looking likely the Hoppers pack and remaining half of their backline put in a tremendous effort, not only repelling the Hawks attack but winning a turnover and then a penalty of their own. With the pressure eased Hoppers secured the victory and of course some local bragging rights. Both sets of players should be proud of their efforts and will look forward to doing it all again in mid-November. 

The win sees Hoppers handily placed in second place, just behind Chester, who have started the season with three victories of their own. Next weekend Young’s men travel to Firswood Waterloo, who will be looking to bounce back following a thumping loss at Sedgley Park.

Ade Jebb

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