Hoppers 2nd XV 55 Fylde 2nd XV 5
Photo courtesy of Mick Craig
Friday night’s floodlit fixture turned into a demolition derby as Hoppers young second team put their local rivals to the sword. A healthy crowd saw Hoppers outscore Fylde by eight tries to one on a chilly Lancastrian evening.Mike Lough’s men dominated proceedings from the first whistle in a match which saw their forwards overpower the visitors both at the breakdown and the setpiece.
Hoppers enjoyed total superiority and limited Fylde to a mere handful of attacks. But for some charitable refereeing towards the end of the game the home side would have recorded their fifth successive clean sheet.
First to score was the impressive Connor Murphy, making his home debut for the club. Stand-off Edwards, who converted the try added a penalty shortly after. Hooker Brad Tuff was then sent to the sin-bin following some over-zealous use of the boot. Hoppers retained their focus and Mike Haley touched down after a well executed cross kick from Edwards. Skipper Rich Morton then powered over following a quickly taken penalty and the home side entered the break with a healthy 24-0 lead.
After the break Hoppers continued to strangle Fylde’s attempts to take a foothold in the game. The visitors kept battling and their main threat came from the athletic number 8 Ryan Scott and centre Jack Ward. Yet whenever Fylde approached the home side’s 22 they were thrust backwards by some aggressive defence which gave Hoppers numerous opportunities to counter attack.
Murphy added another try before Tuff redeemed his previous indiscrestion when he shuffled over from about ten yards out. The pick of the tries then came from young winger Dougie Grimes. Upon receiving the ball forty metres out he stepped three defenders before scything in under the posts.
Despite tiring late on, Murphy completed his second successive hat-trick before French import Charles Hostier scored Hoppers eighth and final try. Fylde had one last thrust left in them and were awarded a successon of penalties which won them some decent field position. With the last play of the match they breached the Hoppers line and the home side had conceded their first try in nearly seven hours of rugby.
Head Coach Dave Baldwin was watching proceedings from the stands and was extremely pleased with the perfromance. Players who began the season with the second team are already being given their opportunity to shine in the first team squad. It is noteworthy that Saturday’s first team bench contains five players who have played under Lough in recent weeks.
Next week the second team face a tough trip to Burnage where they will look to maintain their excellent start.