PGRFC 3rd XV 27-15 WIRRAL RFC 2nd XV
Hoppers 3rds got back to winning ways on Saturday with victory over Wirral 2nd’s in a red hot encounter at Lightfoot Green. Having been on the end of two heavy defeats against this opposition last time the 3rds were in Division 1, the boys knew they would be in for a tough afternoon.
Following a controlled spell of structured, possession rugby, Hoppers found themselves camped well inside Wirral’s 22 meter line. Unfortunately for Hoppers they were unable to register any points and Wirral’s pace and strength in the back line surged to the surface with a break away try, slicing through Hoppers defence to register the first points of the day.
Despite the early set back coupled with the temperature mirroring that of the Iberian Peninsula, a lofty 20˚C, Hoppers regained the early, measured tempo. The blue and white hoops began to serve their own notice of intent, charging through the midfield with a well-oiled, balanced pack, providing a platform for the back line to pounce.
Hoppers were ruthless, with Peterson dictating play like an inform Tom Brady, only this time with a fully inflated ball. He found the outside centre, known to his team mates as ‘Sausage’, sizzling through the Wirral backline similar to that of the well-greased Richmond. Peterson converted the extras.
Half time – Hoppers 7-5 Wirral
During the half time team talk, the newly recruited Steel and toothless Morton (a mere 400 first team caps between them) were in buoyant mood. The hours on the training pitch* clearly paying dividends, and for those who miss training, take a minute to reflect, whilst reciting Coach Lombardi’s famous words;
‘Football – (In the case Rugby) is like life, It requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.
*Thursday 7pm sharp!
There is a new found depth to Hoppers 3rd XV that is enduring. They have a replacements bench the envy of all. With half time replacements Dickie ’15 pints’ Leeming and Fish, the man mountain, a real prop (for those wondering, if entered water would simply sink), entering the fold, Hoppers began to turn the screw.
The stalwart that is Copper, truncheoned his way through the Wirral line from close range and Peterson added the extras.
Peterson speedily added a penalty as the heat was beginning to affect both teams discipline mid-way through this gruelling encounter.
As Hoppers looked as though they were comfortably entering the last quarter, Wirral’s 2nd XV gathered themselves, gained composure and added direction to their game and hit back with a typically forthright response, playing hard-ball and playing smart. There was guile & deftness, strong straight running from the Wirral centres, resulting in a try under the sticks. With the extras added it was suddenly game on! 17-12 to Hoppers.
Wirral continued to add more pressure on Hoppers and at one stage the situation looked desperate. Cue the saviour – Morton. Calmly narrating to himself ‘It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up’. Frothing from the mouth the big man took his chance and marched over the strong Wirral defence to add a welcome try.
Again, Peterson successful with the extras and with an exchange in late penalties, Hoppers ran out with a well-earned victory.
A special mention for the ever present Mollinga and Shepherd, whose unwavering fitness, determination and commitment shone throughout the afternoon.
Final Score – Hoppers 27-15 Wirral
The early passages and the second-half intensity in such heat, suggests that Hoppers 3rd XV are continuing the rich vein of form that has meant they have lost only once since they won the much converted Brooke Edgely Specialist trophy in Spring. Hoppers were slick, clever and purposeful, reminding an appreciative crowd of 13 that the best is yet to come. Coach McGuire will be pleased that his team gave little away at the set piece and held firm in defence against a young, dynamic Wirral 2nd XV.
Finally, the MOM – Matt Lambert, his endless efforts from the back row were noticed by all. A fine addition to the 3rd XV. Superb all afternoon.
Reporting from the row was Jamie Best.