2nd XV see off Chester

Date: 10 March 2013

Hoppers 2nd XV 44 Chester 2nd XV 10

The second team capped off a good weekend by retaining their position at the top of the Bateman Premier League with a comfortable victory over Chester at Lightfoot Green. Friday night saw them win the 2012/13 Senior Team Performance of the Year category at the 8th Preston Sports Awards.

Preston shrugged off the early morning loss of Dan Madden to the first team with a dominant performance which saw them score some well worked tries. Young’s men put the visitors under some early pressure, the result being a penalty which Tom Smith duly kicked. Five minutes later man of the match Harry Reddick scored a fine try after good work from McGuinness, the birthday boy Murray and kiwi centre Cameron Berry.

More good work from the same clutch of players saw Hoppers go close again but Chester managed to repel their hosts. With twenty minutes gone the second team could have been out of sight but if truth be told they were turning the ball over at crucial times. Their second try was just round the corner though as Jonny Doney charged down a kick at the base of a Chester scrum. The back row forward managed to gather the ricochet and score although Smith was unable to add the extras.

Hoppers led 15-0 but their penalty count was starting to creep up although the visitors were unable to make it count as their first attempt at the posts fell short. Preston took immediate advantage as Pollock counter attacked after taking a mark before feeding Mabaya who charged into Chester territory. More good work from Reddick and Berry led to a fine try for Antony Elliott and a straightforward conversion for Smith. At the break the defending champions led 22-0 and with Macclesfield scoring heavily at Burnage Hoppers knew that they had to record a big victory to keep their points difference healthy.

The second half started scrappily and Hoppers struggled to assert themselves, an untidy piece of play and a hack through led to an unconverted try for the visitors and Preston’s hopes of keeping a clean sheet were dashed. As they have done on so many occasions this season Preston hit straight back with a try from Berry. The centre hit a good line from Murray but his score proved that running hard and running straight is often the most effective form of attack.

The direct approach saw Hopper’s lead stretch to 37-5 as Berry, Reddick and Yates took the blue and whites deep into Chester territory. From the resultant ruck Alan Jones burrowed over and the points were safe for another week. Credit to Chester as their number eight scored a consolation a couple of minutes later although Hoppers will be disappointed that he ran virtually unchallenged from the base of a scrum.

Coach Young, who afforded himself a ten minute cameo, and the pack had the final say though as a strong scrum put Chester under real pressure. Simple hands from the backs led to another converted score, this time from Elliott. The final score was 44-10 and whilst Preston weren’t at their very best it was a good result against a side who have previously made life difficult for them.

Next week Hoppers take a week off from the league as they travel to Burnage in the semi-finals of the Raging Bull Cup. Despite a couple of final appearances the second team haven’t won the trophy since their double winning season of 2006 so they will be anxious to prevail next weekend and reach the final. The match will be played on Burnage’s 3G pitch so should suit Hopper’s offloading game. Coach Young welcomes more players back to the fold so selection will again be a time consuming exercise when the squad convenes for training.


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