Hoppers 4th XV 22-16 Tyldesley 2nd XV
Hoppers 4th XV (pictured away at Fylde last season) opened the season at Lightfoot Green on Saturday by welcoming Tyldesley 2nd XV. Superb playing conditions saw some familiar faces return in the shape of Jason Proctor, Gav McQueen and Antni Nightingale to help a young, developing team lead by new captain Jimmy Gray.
The first half, in typical 4th XV fashion, took a little bit of time to settle. After soaking up early pressure from Tyldesley, a penalty conceded by Hoppers lead to the visitors successfully kicking through a penalty making it 3-0 to Tyldesley. The rest of the half was a fairly scrappy affair with both teams trying to get a grip on the game. With minutes to go to half-time, Hoppers managed to get into the game. Alex Johnson, playing at 10, received quick ball and some good hands and support play from Brown, Ellwood and Holmes allowed returning back row Hickman to score. The superb conversion from the right wing by Tom Lyth meant Hoppers went into half time with a 7-3 lead.
The team knew what needed to be done in the second half to win the game, composure at the right time lacked in the first half and was needed more in this half to secure the result.
A superb kick off from Johnson allowed Richard Howard and fellow forwards to win a penalty at the first ruck. New captain Jimmy Gray opted for the three points, which Lyth slotting over for a 10-3 lead to Hoppers. Going behind in the match seemed to spur Tyldesley into life, with pressure from their forwards at the ruck forcing Hoppers into conceding a penalty inside their own half. Opting for the corner, their impressive catch and drive lead to a try, with the conversion unsuccessful.
Pressure from the kick off again, and good defence lead by the forwards lead to a 5m scrum. The front row of Howard, Nightingale and Colligan were putting on some serious pressure in the scrum leading to a turnover and with the Hoppers back row of Gray, Hickman and McQueen and scrum half Proctor being a nuisance at the right time lead to Hoppers pressure in the Tyldesley red zone . A Hoppers pick up from the back of the ruck lead to returning hooker Nightingale powering over from 5 metres out. Lyth made no mistake from the tee to convert the try. 17-8.
Tyldesley, to their credit, never gave up and were successful from a penalty to make the score 17-11. With the game at a crucial stage, Hoppers knew any penalty would be very damaging to winning the game. A debatable call from the referee lead to a penalty to Tyldesley, which lead to another catch and drive which Hoppers had no answer for. With conversion again unsuccessful. 17-16 to Hoppers.
With the game entering the last 20 mins of the contest, composure was needed from this point forward and with the Hoppers 5th team supporters club in good spirits on the sideline, the lads had every chance. The forwards were now beginning to show some dominance, especially at the scrum and in the tight. Hoppers were getting going now, allowing Johnson, Brown and Ellwood to run well with ball in hand. A superb kick from Lyth from deep inside his own half put their second row, well out of position to kick for touch, which was still deep inside Tyldesley territory.
A scrappy lineout followed where Hoppers somehow retrieved the ball. Hoppers forwards, especially Colligan, Nick Johnson and McQueen making valuable hard yards from slow ball setting up good field position. Tyldesley were under huge pressure and eventually that man again Nightingale scored alongside some hefty hoppers support. With the conversion unsuccessful, defence was now the key for Hoppers. Some great defence, especially from wing Foster, centre Brown and the Hoppers back row made sure Tyldesley could not answer to Hoppers. The game finished Hoppers 22 – 16 Tyldesley.
A good start to the season from Hoppers 4th XV and hopefully more ‘W’s’ will follow! A ‘never say die’ attitude today made it a successful start to the season!
Special thanks to the Hoppers 5th team, who came and supported the lads, plus Mick Mortimer, 5th team captain for putting in a shift in the front row, helping the 4th team out!
Next up – Sedgley Park 3’s!