2nd XV downed by Sedge

Date: 30 September 2014

Hoppers 2nd XV 0 Sedgley Tigers 2nd XV 23

Friday night lights returned to Lightfoot Green but Hoppers failed to electrify the healthy crowd which braved the cool Autumn evening.

Young’s men produced a disappointing performance, lacking both in cutting edge and physicality. The visitors made fewer mistakes than their hosts, took their chances and defended with vigour when necessary. Hoppers will rue some missed opportunities and the fact their opponents took the victory without playing exceptionally well.

The opening exchanges were dominated by errors with the Tigers just about having the better of things. Hoppers were penalised twice and Tom Leader’s penalties saw the home side 6-0 behind after twenty minutes.

Young’s men began to dominate the scrum and managed to get a foothold in Tigers territory. The visitors were under pressure and their number 8 was sent to the sin bin for transgressing at the breakdown. Despite bing camped under the Tigers’ posts Preston failed to capitalise and the away side repelled the danger.

It could easily have been 7-6 to the men in blue and white but the Tigers scrum half made a huge break into Hoppers territory. A try was prevented but from the resultant penalty the Tigers kicked to the corner. The away side set up a good maul and drove their hosts over. Leader made a fine conversion and all of a sudden the men from Prestwich led 13-0.

It got worse for Hoppers just before half time as Rhodes-Powers was sent to the sin-bin for not releasing. The Tigers were more alert than Hoppers and a quick cross field kick led to a try in the right corner. Leader missed his kick this time but the teams turned round with an 18 point margin between them.

Preston started the half the better and enjoyed some sustained possession. However they struggled to win any quick ball which made life difficult for Murray and his back line.

The Tigers showed good ambition, running the ball out of their twenty two and an unfortunate slip in the Hoppers defence saw the visitors go all the way to the line for an unconverted try.

In reality Hoppers were playing for pride as the reigning champions had built a winning lead. The home side really huffed and puffed and a strong break by Proctor saw them come close to breaking their duck. Urmston transgressed at the breakdown and although the Tigers were down to 14 again it was too late to have an affect on the result.

Preston created one last chance for a consolation but spurned it. There was a hint of a knock on by a Tigers player but the referee was unable to give Hoppers the benefit of the doubt.
Napier was then shown a yellow card for a late hit on Leader and Hoppers were left to lick their wounds.

The result left Young and his players with a lot to work on before next week’s trip to Rochdale. It was the first time that Hoppers have failed to score in over 3 seasons and a performance they will be keen to put right next week. However they will be consoled by the fact that losing before Christmas ultimately has little bearing on their title chances.


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