Hoppers 2nd Xv 3 Sedgley Park 2nd XV 7
The seconds were left shaking their heads and reflecting on the one that got away after an agonisingly close defeat to Sedgley Park. The home side enjoyed 75% of both the possession and territory yet failed to breach the Sedgley line for what would have been a match winning score. Hoppers also dominated the set piece as they disrupted the visitor’s line out and took four balls against the head at scrum time.
On a glorious winter afternoon Hoppers came out of the blocks quickly and camped themselves in their opponents half. Russ Flynn missed an early penalty but made amends soon after to put Hoppers into a 3-0 lead. Sedgley were restricted to clearing their lines and counter attacks initiated by their back three.
Mike Lough’s men turned round with the slenderest of leads and the break appeared to take some of the wind from their attacking sails. However order was soon restored and the Hoppers pack took a stranglehold on the match. Sedgley managed to repel Hoppers once more and won a line out in the home side’s 22. Hoppers disrupted once more and released their backs but knocked on in midfield. Sedgley hacked through and touched down under the posts. The visitors failed to create any try scoring opportunities of their own but pounced on Hoppers single but ultimately crucial mistake.
Hoppers were behind and spent the remainder of the game trying to breach the Sedgley defences. They came close on at least three occasions but credit should go to their opponents who defended as if their lives depended on it. Perhaps more frustrating was that Sedgley spent ten minutes down to 14 men after a cynical infringement at the breakdown. Hoppers could not make their advantage count whilst on another the day the Sedgley skipper would have also seen yellow for handling in the ruck.
Sedgley Park held on for a somewhat fortuitous victory and Hoppers will regret that they could not make their dominance tell. However Lough’s men will have a chance to redress the balance when they travel down to Whitefield later in the season. The fixture should not hold any fear for Hoppers as with a bit more good fortune they could easily have ran out winners.
Next week Hoppers travel to Broughton Park in the next round of the Raging Bull Cup. Whilst the following week they travel down the M60 to face the attacking flair of Stockport.