Burnage 2nd XV 7 – Hoppers 2nd XV 53
The second team’s impressive start to the season continued as they dismantled a determined Burnage side on a sunny Autumn afternoon. The second half was arguably their best performance of the season so far. Hoppers’ ferocious defence laid the platform for Lough’s men to put the ball through their hands with energy and enthusiasm.
The scoreline suggests a relatively easy victory but Burnage fought hard throughout the first half and put Hoppers under some extreme pressure. Additionally the referee appeared to have taken a leaf from Mr Rolland’s book as at one point he had Hoppers down to 12 men. In a five minute spell either side of half-time he sent messers Gayle, Hostier and Wallace to the bin to cool down.
Jack Walker, playing in an unfamiliar outside centre role opened the scoring after 14 minutes after Hoppers turned over a Burnage scrum. Some ten minutes later Burnage brought parity to proceedings with a converted try. Hoppers were a bit too eager in defence and the home side exploited the resultant dog leg to score near the posts.
The Burnage full-back then made a dangerous tackle under his posts. Hoppers coaching staff were somewhat perplexed that the head shot was not deemed worthy of a sin-binning. This would be put into stark perspective some minutes later. Yet from the resultant penalty Morton made good yards and the prolific Murphy went over for his seventh try in only his third game. This left the score 12-7 although Burnage came back well, putting Hoppers under severe pressure.
It was then that the referee went card crazy, Gayle was punished for handling in the ruck and could have few complaints at seeing yellow. It was Hostier’s sanction that left the enigmatic Frenchman and his team mates scratching their heads as he was binned for a side entry when it seemed pretty clear that the ball was available.
The half-time break came at a good time for Hoppers and rather than letting their collective “chimp” brain take over they galvanised and approached the second half with a new sense of vigour. Great team interplay saw Doug Grimes score, but a scuffle ensued after the touchdown which saw a Burnage player sent to cool off. Amazingly the referee showed the outstanding Wallace yellow and Hoppers would face approximately five minutes with 12 players.
Hoppers resolve was firmly tested but they put in an exceptional defensive effort which was epitomised when (without 3 members of the starting pack) they shoved Burnage off their own ball. Lough then introduced Mabaya and Napier from the bench and they appeared to inject some further momentum into the visitors.
Hoppers then ran away with the game, thriving on the pace the 3G pitch allowed to play with. Morton went over in the corner, quickly followed by Berry before Wallace got a deserved try after a great off-load by Gayle. Berry then broke from his own 22 and the ever available Austin went over to take the score to 41-7.
Young colt Anthony Elliott then claimed his first try for the second team after some more excellent team work and sustained ball retention. The icing on the cake was a converted try for Gayle after another line break by the impressive Walker.
Hoppers had again broken the fifty point barrier and the team’s enthusiasm to congratulate one another after the score was illustrative of the positive spirit that thrives in the camp. News had filtered through of another superb victory for the first team and this boosted spirits further for the trip home.
Hoppers welcome struggling Penrith to Preston next weekend but another good week of training is required to ensure that the group continue to develop whilst offering proper support to our first team.
The build up continues to the 12th November when Sedgeley Park come to Lightfoot Lane. The teams are now level on points difference at the summit but Hoppers remain top as they have conceded fewer points.