Sedgley Park U15s 7 Hoppers U15s 37*
2nd November 2014
After a couple of weeks training Hoppers were greeted with a gorgeous day in North Manchester, with bright sunshine and excellent conditions. Sedgley Park are always competitive and turn out a large pack that are a handful, so we expected a good test.
Hoppers kicked off with a good deep kick, putting immediate pressure on the Sedgley defence, turning the ball over and putting the backs away with their first attack. Jake made good ground on the left before the ball was moved back to Jamie on the right who outpaced the defence to score the first try, conversion missed.
Hoppers were encouraged by their excellent start to throw the ball around in the backs, and despite great play and runs from Tom W and Harvey in mid field, they did not manage to threaten the Sedgley line. A combination of Hoppers always trying to score off first phase, and a few speculative offloads going to ground hindered the continuity in the play. Sedgley also came back into the game with some strong forward play, requiring some great defence to keep them from scoring, notably from Jamie and Harvey. Harvey dominated his opposite number all day, and along with Tom denied Sedgely any real momentum or threat in mid field. The forwards were also holding their own against a big pack, driving them back at the scrums, although never really getting the rewards for this effort.
Hoppers went through a phase where they suffered in the penalty count at breakdowns, also giving basic penalties away such offside in the defensive line and at kicks. However, they finally scored again after excellent work by the forwards recycling the ball at the breakdown and going through several phases, including a storming run from Dunny. When the ball was moved to the right to Jake, he powered over with three defenders on his back to make the line, conversion missed.
Hoppers were looking much stronger now, shading the forward battle and having a series of attacks. Just as they seemed to be getting some daylight between the teams in the score, Sedgley scored a powerful forwards’ try. Hoppers gave away a couple of penalties, giving Sedgely momentum that they exploited by driving again and again through the forwards until they scored close to the posts leaving a simple conversion.
Not surprisingly this galvanised the Sedgley team, and it was game on. Only excellent defence from Tom W, and a great ‘Aussie Rules style’ catch from Jamie after a scrappy kick by us near our line kept Sedgley from taking the lead before the end of the first half.
The second half started with a Sedgley kick off, and there was immediately a great return by Alastair, to try to exert some kind of dominance in the match. Hoppers were playing well both in attack and defence, with good breaks from the backs through Tom and Jake but the Sedgley open field tackling was excellent at times to stop our very dangerous backs. Hoppers, though, were continuing to get ‘pinged’ at the breakdowns and enabled Sedgley to keep exerting pressure.
The turning point of the game followed a period of sustained pressure in our 22 with Sedgely looking likely to go over again and take the lead. Hoppers defended resolutely though, and finally cleared their lines with a penalty, and an excellent clearing kick from Tom W. Soon after this Hoppers added to their score with a brilliant try. We won clean ball at our scrum and Callum ran a set move in the backs, splitting the confused defence for Tom W to arc round and sprint clear to score, Tom N made the conversion.
Hoppers had now weathered the storm of the big Sedgley pack as they tired, and our fitness and mobility now showed. Jake scored a great try soon afterwards: Tom W starting the play with a powerful run back from the kick off, the forwards winning good possession and Tom N feeding Harvey who put Jake away from full back, to score on the left hand wing, conversion missed.
Hoppers were now dominant in both backs and forwards, and scored another try soon after. Winning clean ball again at the scrum, the ball was moved to our left through the backs to Alastair who drew several defenders creating space, and popped the ball out to Adam M (were they having a rest in the backs?!) who took the ball really well and showed good pace to score but the conversion was missed.
Tom W was having another storming game, and added to the score with his second try when he intercepted a Sedgley pass on their 22 to go over under the posts leavinga simple conversion to be made. Sedgley never gave up though and tried really had to put pressure on Hoppers again. Tom W scored again just before the end of the match following a sloppy kick from Sedgley that put all of their team off side, enabling Tom to recover the ball and outpace the cover to score his hat trick.
The match was a good test for the lads, particularly dealing with a strong and aggressive pack. The squad are all now really competitive players, and it shows as we ‘spell’ players and the subs are making an real impact, maintaining the strength of the performance. A particular mention for Agus, our ‘international’ addition to the squad, who showed some great touches on the wing and nifty footwork. The final score was, perhaps, not really a true reflection of the effort that Sedgley put in, and credit to them for keeping on trying right to the final whistle.