“Those that want to achieve and win, motivate themselves as success only comes before work in the dictionary”
Although the New Year started with a disappointing home defeat to conference rivals Sedgley Park in a legacy game from the previous league structure, Hoppers 2nd XV travelled to Heywood Road, determined to be the masters of their own fortune. With the news that Sale 2’s had again failed to muster a competitive front row, Hoppers re-focused and refused to allow the unopposed scrum to dampen the ‘spirit of the pack’. What followed was a commanding performance that has set the standard for the coming season.
Hoppers set about the game with gusto and settled early despite not having much of the ball for the first 10 minutes. Sale tried to spread the ball wide to breach a strong Hoppers defense however, resilience and patience forced errors from the home side allowing Hoppers to get a grip on the game.
With the ball now more in hand, Hoppers attacked, exploiting the ever occurring gaps in Sale’s defense. With the rugby starting to come together, Harry Swarbrick went looking for work from the opposite wing and took a great line to score a deserved try in the corner. Hunt pulled the conversion wide: 0-5 to Hoppers. Soon after, Jonny Milliken conjured up some space from nowhere and put in the rampaging Yates, who finished off a great move to put Hoppers further into the lead (0-10). Hunt again, slipped the conversion wide from a similar position however, the young 10 remained un-phased and continued to put in a mature display.
Hoppers continued the half in control of the game with any attack from Sale being snuffed out by a disciplined defensive display. Although some phases where a little overplayed and not enough ball came wide enough through the 10, Hoppers played on the front foot. With a 10 point cushion Hoppers settled and started to spot more opportunities out wide. With the Sale defense stretched, their defensive shape became more exposed to the Hoppers strong lines of running and the pressure started to show. Wilkinson, solid in defense all game, closed down the Sale flank and turned over possession. Keeping hold, he was able to reach the try line and score. Hunt converted and Hoppers finished the half 0-17.
Half time was a more relaxing phase for the Hoppers coaches and with a couple of changes to keep things fresh, the second half started with Hoppers maintaining a degree of dominance. Soon after the break Logan charged down a Sale box kick and recovered to score under the posts. Hunt converted and the lead extended to 0-24. Further tries from Walker, two from Clitheroe and one from Kane Bevan extended the lead beyond Sale. With the score now at 0-50 after Hunt converted 3 from 4, Sale rallied, determined to get something on the board. Their opportunity came when the Sale winger found himself with acres of space behind the Hoppers defense. He was in for a score when some fantastic covering from Yates seemed to shock him into a stumble, allowing the ball to be cleared into touch. The game finished 0-50 to Hoppers.
Hoppers 2nd XV played a game that was pleasing to watch with a positive attitude that served to dominate a Conference A side. It must also be mentioned that without the discipline and focus shown by the pack albeit disappointed from not having a scrum contest, the result could have been different and the game a lot closer. Hoppers now look forward to the visit from Macclesfield this Saturday which should be a great tie.
Final Score: 0-50
Hoppers 2nd XV: Andrews, Wilkinson, Burns, Gage, Gale, Clitheroe, Walker (c), Proctor, Bevan, Hunt, Yates, Ward, J Swarbrick, H Swarbrick, Milliken
Replacements: Tuff, Logan.