4th XV leave it late for win

Date: 12 January 2017

Hoppers 4th XV 23 – 22 LSH

By Jimmy Gray

The first game of 2017 saw Hoppers entertain Liverpool Saint Helens, with both teams looking to consolidate their mid table positions in Division 3 North. The Hoppers team sheet looked strong with a mix of experience and youth.

There was a welcome return for centre Luis Dunne, with returning students Izaak Gosling, Adam Saleh and James Murphy back to help bolster the Hoppers ranks.

Hoppers started the game brightly, asking early questions of the LSH defence, with Andrews, Dalgliesh and Dunne prominent. Continued pressure saw a Hoppers scrum deep in the LSH half, which saw scrum half Gosling feed winger Dan Walmsley who beat two defenders to register the first try of the game. The try was converted by James Barnes. More possession from Hoppers led to a high tackle committed by LSH, which to some spectating would look like two front rows colliding, saw LSH reduced to 14 men in compliance with the new rules surrounding high tackles. This led to uncontested scrums for a short time. After good early inroads, centre Dunne was replaced by Adam Saleh. Hoppers started to play in the right areas again, forcing a penalty which led to James Barnes converting the three points from the tee. The resulting kick off saw Hoppers guilty of being undisciplined and letting LSH back into the game. A breakdown infringement saw a kick through and lucky bounce land nicely for the LSH centre who ran in unopposed. The try was converted. LSH had the momentum and another penalty saw Ben Murphy sent to the sin bin and LSH knock a penalty over to make the half time score 10-10.

From the kick off, LSH built good pressure and the LSH number 8 score after patient phases following a scrum. The score was converted. A good kick off and chase saw Hoppers maintain territory. After patient play and repeated scrums, Hoppers scored a deserved push over try where Number 8 Jimmy Gray grounded the ball under a pile of bodies. Try was converted by Barnes. Changes for Hoppers saw Gosling and Gray be replaced by James Murphy and Jonny Davies. LSH refused to lie down, with good back line move seeing their winger go over in the corner, despite a suspect pass in the build up. Try was unconverted. A penalty saw James Barnes convert from distance to make the score 22-20 to LSH. With full time approaching, another penalty to Hoppers saw James Barnes shave the post with his attempt, which the LSH coach voicing his delight once again. In the dying moments, a scrum in midfield was won against the head by hooker Antni Nightingale and the Hoppers forwards. Jonny Davies picked up from the base and rumbled up field bringing defenders with him. Patient play and good hands saw a penalty committed by LSH and James Barnes scored the winning points from straight in front of the posts.

It wasn’t the prettiest game of rugby, but the Hoppers team of 18 got the spoils after a resilient and determined effort right till the end. Credit must go to LSH, who competed well until the end and gave Hoppers a good game. Man of the match was awarded to Rhys Phillips, who had a great game in defence and at the breakdown.

Hoppers team

Barnes, Walmsley, Clow, Dunne, Yousuf, Johnson, Gosling;

Colligan, Nightingale, Andrews, Gregory, B Murphy, Phillips, Dalgliesh, Gray.

Subs: Saleh, Davies, J Murphy

H20 co-ordinator/Crowd Control: Luke Hayward

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