Hoppers 2nd XV win their first away fixture with a 21-67 victory over Chester 2’s.
After last week’s game at home to Caldy, Hoppers 2’s were determined to improve on their performance and put in a disciplined display against our friends from Hare Lane. The message before the game was simple and that was to have faith in our game plan, our ability as a team and get our backline into the game earlier. The latter proved to be the quintessential component in a deserved victory.
Both teams seemed ‘up for the spoils’ with a fast paced delivery into the hoppers 22 from the kickoff and some frantic defending putting some early pressure on the visitors. Things settled quickly and Hoppers started to gain dominance in the set piece with the front row of Andrews, Wilkinson and Burns in the ascendency from the first scrum. With the lineout also working better than the previous week, Hoppers forwards looked dominant on the front foot and made the Chester defence work hard.
Hoppers grew into the game with every phase and with better ball being made available at the back of the breakdown, the returning Moulding was able to accurately deliver the game plan expected, bringing both forwards and backs into the areas Hoppers wanted to exploit.
Hoppers opened the scoring with a well-deserved try from Proctor who worked hard to get wide and take an inside ball in the wide channels. With a successful conversion from the returning Zavallis-Roebuck (Zav), Hoppers led 0-7. This was short lived. From the kickoff, Chester piled on the pressure and some defensive errors allowed the Chester prop to play a little neat pass onto the winger who scored out wide. The successful conversion made it 7-7. To Hoppers credit, they didn’t repeat the mistakes of the previous week and remained composed enough to get back up into the Chester 22 were Proctor again delivered. With the conversion successful and another try scored soon after by Proctor, Zav kept his 100% kicking record. With 15 to go until half time, Hoppers led 7-21. This seemed to take the wind out of the home side’s sails. Subsequent tries from forwards Birchall-Feeney and Banks with Zav hitting the conversions on target meant Hoppers led 7-35 at half time.
Chester started the second half with an admirable ‘do or die’ approach and threw everything at the Hoppers defence. Hoppers new found confidence and focus provided some good turnover ball and allowed them to find themselves where they left the first half, the Chester 22. This territory allowed Moulding to mark his return with a fine try and with another conversion from Zav, Hoppers increased the lead to 7-42. Another try was added after Swarbrick showed what the young Rugby League convert can bring with a fine piece of skill putting Zav in which he then converted to make it 7-49 to the visitors.
An unremitting Chester struck back with two consecutive, converted tries which closed the scoring to 49-21. Hoppers again responded positively with two consecutive tries from the impressive Swarbrick, learning his trade on the wing and a final try from Ward. Zav converted all but the final kick making the final score 21-67 to the visitors.
After the game, coaches Steve Tiernan and Craig Steel reflected by saying, “As pleasing as the win was, there are definite signs that there are lots more positives to come from this developing side”.
The 2nds next game is a mouth-watering encounter with Fylde Hawks at home.
Team @ Chester: Andrews, Wilkinson, Burns, Banks, Wardell(c), Birchall-Feeney, Clitheroe, Banks, Moulding, Hurst, Swarbrick, Ward, Reddick, Yates, Zavallis-Roebuck
Replacements: Hulme, Capstick, Newsham
The picture at the top of the page is from the 2nd XV’s game with Chester last season and is used with the kind permission of Mike Craig.