Junior County Finals

Date: 19 April 2012

Two of Hoppers junior teams have made it through to the Blacksticks Blue Challenge Lancashire Cup finals.  The Under 15s and Under 14s travel to Vale of Lune on Sunday 29th April and they would appreciate as many travelling supporters from the club as possible.

Preston Grasshoppers under 14’s warmed up for the cup final with a closely contested defeat at close neighbours Fylde. After the wintry conditions of the morning, the game was played in a friendly manner, under a clear blue sky and showed the strength of the Grasshopper squad, giving the coaches a number of problems in the selection for the final, the week’s training session will be needed to assist final selection.

With a week to go coach Chris Johnson says “we remain confident despite a number of injuries and the lads are looking forward to their trip to the Vale of Lune. A strong Hoppers following will certainly give us a boost”

Johnson is no stranger to Lancs finals, having taken last years under 16s to their fourth successive victory. Would it be a unique achievement to succeed again with another team? Chris is adamant it is not about him though. “We have a lot of talent in this squad which is now being recognised at county level, they just need to believe in their own abilities and they will get their rewards”

Under 15s lead coach Steve Hackett wants the short distance to Lancaster to count in Hoppers favour, “The county finals is a great show piece for junior rugby in Lancashire, with all four finals at one venue on the day. A large Hoppers presence will certainly boost the lads as they take to the field” Here we look at the Under 15s route to the final.

The Under 15s, last year’s winners at Under 14, had a tough group stage to negotiate. First up was a rematch of the final against Manchester and the game couldn’t have been tighter.  Only a last minute conversion seperated these well matched teams, Hoppers prevailing 7-5.  An away fixture at Collegiate was won 24-3.  Vale of Lune were up next and Hoppers lost their first game in over a year in the competition 5-19.  In horrendous conditions at Sedgeley Park the 15s put in probably their best performance of the group stage winning by over 30 points.

The final group game against Fylde was another tight game which finished level at 10-10 and Hoppers progressed into the knock stage.  Bury were beaten 29-0 to set up a semi final back at Fylde.  The derby match was played out in perfect conditions which suits Hoppers style and this time they comfortable overcame Fylde 35-5. This sets up an intriguing final, a repeat of last year’s epic encounter against Manchester.  The teams have met four times in the competition with honours even at 2 wins each. There is little to choose between the teams, both of whom are well represented at County level.

Please support both the teams, the Under 14s kick off at 12:15 followed by a 1.30 kick off 1.30 for the Under 15s.

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