Hoppers U15 35* Oldham U15 5
Sunday 22nd Feb.
Hoppers were back in action after a couple of weeks training, with their first ever fixture against Oldham RUFC. The match was on the first team pitch, with a good turn out of spectators despite the weather. There was driving rain and, with the freezing cold, at times this became a mixture of sleet and snow, with the lads reporting afterwards that sometimes they could not even feel their hands, never mind hang on to the ball.
Hoppers kicked off through Tom N, and Oldham started with a strong drive, halted by a great tackle by Alastair. Despite the weather, it was clear that Hoppers still were trying to play an open style of running rugby with Jake fielding a Oldham kick at full back and nearly breaking clear down the left wing. This was followed by breaks from Ethan at stand off, and Ryan on the right wing and Jamie on the left, but the Oldham defence stood strong. The Hoppers’ forwards started very strong, rucking quick ball and taking possession against the put in at both scrums and line outs.
In the early stages Oldham tackled strongly and the conditions meant some missed chances in the backs. Oldham though struggled to get any territory as the Hoppers’ backs came up in defence very quickly and Ryan and Harvey in particular put in driving tackles on their opposite numbers. Eventually, the possession and territorial advantage told with the first Hoppers’ try. Jamie fielded a kick and ran back strongly to set up the ruck and quick ball that was moved to the right to Ethan who, after a great dummy, passed to Jake to go in for the try. 7-0 conversion made by Tom N.
Hoppers were now getting into the match despite the awful conditions and following a great run back from the kick off by Alastair, a powerful break again by Jake nearly put Ryan away on the right but the ball just went to ground. The backs were doing well handling the ball despite the conditions, but we were thwarted again when Jamie was just stopped on a run by good Oldham defence.
Oldham did have a period of possession, but Hoppers’ line speed and tacking was good in the backs, and the back row were also putting good pressure on the Oldham backs and they had little in the way of a threat. Jamie was unlucky again on the wing, after Ryan had made a great break on the right and the ball was recycled back to the left wing. The fast Oldham wing just managed to catch Jamie and kill the chance. Hoppers’ backs were guilty perhaps of trying a few too many difficult moves in the conditions, but we were winning ample ball in the forwards.
Tom W was seeing a lot of the ball in midfield and following several attacks in the backs and a couple of penalties forced by Hoppers pressure, the Hoppers forwards put in a series of drives. They then released the ball to the right and, with the Oldham defence running out of numbers, Ethan distributed well to Jake who ran in hard to score. 14-0 conversion made by Tom N.
Oldham were struggling to clear their lines, and the game went through a rather scrappy period with Hoppers not making the most of several opportunities. Lewis put in one of his storming runs to get us near their line, but again the ball went to ground. The half ended 19-0 with a further try to Hoppers. Jamie again took the ball forward strongly and Hoppers set up a driving maul, pulling in the Oldham defence. We the moved the ball quickly to Jake who ran in his hat trick try. Conversion missed, half time score 19-0.
Oldham kicked off the second half and the pattern of the game continued with a super run back from Alastair, and runs from Lewis and Jamie, with Tom W still seeing lots of ball in the centre. The forwards continued to win the majority of possession, notably Will in the line out giving some quick ball to the backs. Hoppers were continuing to make chances wide out and Ryan had a chance to break away on the left wing, but good Oldham coved just stopped the chance. Eventually, Hoppers added to the score making use of the possession the forwards were providing, Jake kicked through after a good move in the backs, and although the Oldham full back recovered the ball, Duggie playing in an unfamiliar position on the wing, ripped the ball and went over to score. 26-0 conversion made by Jake.
Hoppers were now completely on top and set up an attack immediately via Tom W and Duggie who put Ryan away. Soon after we put Tom W away to go over and make the score 31-0, conversion missed. Lewis showed his power to run a long Oldham kick back from under his posts to our 10m line, to soon put us back in their territory. Hoppers then ran in probably the best try of the day. After great work by Ryan,Tom W kicked the ball through, showing great vision and this was chased down by Duggie: he then kicked on over the line to dive over to score. 36-0 conversion missed.
Oldham had not given up, and after good work by their forwards, they powered round the blind to score, 36-5. Hoppers were reinvigorated by conceding the try and following crunching tackles by Harvey and Tom W, we were soon on the attack. Winning ball against the put in, this allowed Charlie to feed the ball quickly to Duggie who fed Tom W, who in turn put Ryan away to jink past several players to score. 41-5 conversion missed.
Hoppers were now fully in control and had all the territory. The forwards had the last word, and after great work by Tom W and Duggie in the backs, we set up a ruck near their line. Quick ball gave Callum the option to feed Sam M on the outside or Dunny on the inside: he fed Dunny to power over from 10m – no stoping him from there! Final score 46-5 conversion missed.
A good performance by both teams in very difficult conditions, but setting up the Hoppers’ team nicely for the away game next week at Southport in the cup quarter final. Oldham kept trying right until the end, and credit to them and the ref (shorts, really!!!) for a good game of rugby.