Under 16s exit cup at Warrington

Date: 04 March 2015

Warrington U16s  30   Hoppers U16s  29
Blacksticks Blue Cup Quarter Final
1st March 2015

The Lancashire Cup quarter final away to Warrington was arguably the most compelling fixture of the Round with reports of both teams playing well and appearing to be well matched. On a good sized well presented pitch and relatively kind weather conditions all was set for a well contested game between two exciting free running rugby sides.

The game set off at a great pace and was keenly contested with Hoppers taking the first points with a well worked try finished off with style on the right wing but Warrington battled back securing a try of their own for the scores to level at 5-5. As the game progressed the time on the training field was beginning to show real dividends as Hoppers started to completely dominate the set piece line outs and scrums giving great possession and field  position to mount superb attacking opportunities but surprisingly despite both teams playing good committed and sporting rugby the penalty count against Hoppers started to mount. Such was the frequency and impact of the officiating going against Hoppers that observers started to take a keen interest in the number of decisions going against Hoppers. The players stuck to their game with determination and no little flair with a penalty kick each and a converted try to Hoppers bringing the scoring for the first half to a close with the score 8-15. The coaches urged the Hoppers to stay focused and let their rugby speak for itself and not to let frustration at the mounting penalty count derail their game plan.

A bright start to the second half with a converted try saw Hoppers extend their lead through some beautifully executed play as we looked to build on our growing confidence but Warrington presented a committed and talented opponent but much of their attacking threat and field position was being built on the back of the ever increasing penalty count against Hoppers and some strong running by their talented individuals rather than as a result of any cohesive team threat. It seemed increasingly obvious that time and time again the ball was being turned over not by the opposition but through penalties conceded. As the game started to build towards its conclusion the score had settled to a nine point margin 20-29 in Hoppers favour with the home team never having been in front but still as determined as ever to play. In the final closing minutes with tension on the pitch and side lines mounting it seemed that Warrington could no longer be denied, with the penalty count against Hoppers (once counting started after 10-15 minutes) now totalling in excess of 40 (in fairness 2 were awarded to Hoppers) it was testament to the rugby played by Hoppers that they had managed to keep their hosts at bay. It seemed inevitable that with little time remaining Warrington scored to inflict defeat on Hoppers with a final score of 30-29.

Warrington are a genuine and talented side who play committed and entertaining rugby and we wish them well in their semi final fixture. Sadly defeat means this Hoppers side will finish their Junior careers taking no further part in the Lancashire cup and not through any lack of commitment or ability. As coaches and parents try as we might it has been impossible to offer suitable words of comfort or guidance to explain the nature of this defeat. Both teams played good, clean compelling rugby contributing to what should have been a great advert for the wonderful game that is rugby, sadly the only explanation we can offer is that sometimes no matter what you do, life isn’t fair, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We’ll be back!

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