Sefton U15 0 Hoppers U15 30*
Blacksticks Blue Lancashire Cup
11 Jan 2015.
Hoppers picked up their Blacksticks Blue Cup campaign with a trip to Sefton on Merseyside and were faced by a very strong wind, giving quite difficult conditions. Hoppers had few injuries and unavailability but were still able to field a very strong squad.
Sefton kicked off and had the very strong wind with them in the first half, although it was going across the pitch from corner flag to corner flag. Sefton were able to put us under some pressure early on with some spirited play, although Hoppers soon were dominating in just about all areas. The forwards were taking all of the line outs, with Sam W and Will outstanding, and the pack more than held their own in the set scrums and rucks and mauls.
This forward domination enabled the backs to mount attack after attack, showing excellent handling in difficult conditions. Jake, Jamie and Nathan all has good runs, being put clear by super play from Charlie at scrum half, Callum at 10 and Harvey and Tom W in the centre. Credit to the Sefton backs, they tackled and covered hard and repelled the early attacks. It was only a matter of time before the first score came as we built the pressure, and this came through Tom W on the right hand side, after several phases and good continuity from the forwards. Tom W then scored the second, being simply too strong and elusive for his opposite number to power over to score just to the right of the posts. Conversion made, 12-0.
The back row of Lewis, Sam M and Adam M were putting lots of pressure on the Sefton backs, and after a strike down the blind side by Sam M, the forwards recycled the ball quickly to set the backs free. A couple of phases later Jamie went over in the right hand corner using his speed and power after good work by Harvey and Jake. 17-0 conversion missed.
Sefton kept on trying, but they only really threatened after dangerous kick offs, using the conditions to force errors from Hoppers: given the conditions, though, the game showed a high level of skill. Towards the end of the first half Sefton managed to build some pressure on Hoppers in our 22, but showed a lack of discipline that enabled Hoppers to clear their lines. Sefton were also hampered by their inability to win their line outs after gaining good field position. In addition, Jake managed to clear some really dangerous situations at full back, with his pace and strength to break clear. After a series of penalties given away by Hoppers, Sefton eventually had an attempt at the posts with a penalty kick, but missed in the difficult wind to leave the score 17-0 a half time.
Hoppers make a number of changes at half time, but as usual this served only to freshen the players and in no way weakened the team. Hoppers kicked off for the second half and immediately put Sefton on the back foot as they played into the wind. Alastair immediately made an impact, with good defence and strong runs: inevitably, Hoppers soon extended the score with a great try. Jake ran back a Sefton clearing kick with interest, and the forwards provided clean ball, the backs then moved the ball to the right, before Sam W supported and created space for Tom W with an excellently timed pass, and he then fed to Ryan who was just too fast on the right wing to score. 22-0 conversion missed. Soon after Ryan scored his second try in rapid succession after a good kick from scrum half by Tom N, and slick passing in the backs, including Ethan now at 10, to put him away on the right wing again. Conversion missed 27-0.
Hoppers were still dominating in the forwards in all areas, and the forwards, notably Lewis were putting in barnstorming runs, refusing to be brought down easily. The backs were also dominating their opposite numbers, with Ryan nearly getting his hat trick, and Jake nearly scoring before we were awarded a penalty near their line. A quick tap penalty, and Ethan’s extravagant dummy saw him add to the score under the posts. Conversion made by Tom N. 34-0.
Adam R returned after his long injury period, and soon was right back into the thick of it, pressurising the Sefton backs, and clearing out at rucks. Ollie at hooker was now also doing really well in the set scrums, and won one against the head – despite the modern trend of put ins to the second row – nearly leading to another score by Jake. Eventually, we scored again, when after one of their rare line out successes giving them possession in their backs in their 22, Adam R pressurised their centre who hastily shipped the ball on. Harvey read the situation brilliantly and intercepted the pass, to then run in to score under the posts. Conversion made by Tom N 41-0. This ended the cup game and a scoreless training game followed, where all of the Hoppers squad were utilised.
Another dominant game by Hoppers, keeping us up at the top of the standings and looking forward to the group decider vs Fylde in a couple of weeks. Thanks to Sefton for their hospitality, particularly to the ref who had an excellent game in difficult conditions.