Sedgley 3rd XV 17-19 Hoppers 4th XV
After last week’s opening day victory, Hoppers travelled to Park Lane to take on Sedgley Park 3’s. Over the last few seasons, Sedgley have proved to be a thorn in the 4th XV’s side in tight, physical encounters.
With near enough the same pack and back line as last week’s game, the team knew that a more structured and composed performance would be needed to beat a tough Sedgley team. The opening exchanges of the game saw Sedgley ask questions of Hoppers ruck defence. Successive penalties against Hoppers for simple penalties saw Sedgley set up camp in the Hoppers 22. Hoppers put up some great defence, but the line was finally breached by their tight head prop barging over for a try on the angle from a ruck. With the conversion successful, Hoppers needed to start asking questions of their opponents.
From the kickoff, structured forward play saw Hoppers get on top of the Sedgley ruck defence with forwards Howard, McQueen, Howarth and Nick Johnson prominent. Simple penalties again were letting Hoppers down after encouraging play. From a Sedgley scrum the backs were beginning to get introduced into the game which finally lead to a try after good support play. The conversion was successful and Hoppers trailed 14-0.
Not to be outdone, patient play from Hoppers, orchestrtaed by James Murphy at scrum half and Callum Brown at 10, meant Hoppers forwards and backs were moving in the right direction and with structure. With half-time looming, Hoppers were awarded a penalty. From the attacking lineout, roughly 25 metres out, Hoppers established a maul which was in full motion with Sedgley moving backwards towards their try line. With the maul slowly disintegrating, Scrum half Murphy got the ball from replacement forward Ben Murphy and put the ball down over the line from 5 metres out. With the conversion from Lyth successful, Hoppers were now back in the game. Sedgley 14 Hoppers 7.
Positive words from McQueen, Howard and Gray at the half time team huddle inspired Hoppers to go out and keep playing the way they finished the first half. The first ten minutes of the second half was all Sedgley Park, putting huge pressure on the Hoppers try line. Good defensive work by the Hoppers forwards plus backs Brown, Hayward, Foster and Ellwood made sure the Hoppers line wasn’t breached and only a penalty converted from the Sedgley fly-half was all they came away with.
This seemed to spur Hoppers into life, with yet again the forwards making the hard yards through sensible, patient play. The hoppers inside backs not afraid of joining in either. Sedgley were now being forced into conceding penalties inside their own half. The pressure finally took its toll on Sedge when a good rolling Hoppers maul controlled by Ben Murphy led to James Murphy causing a nuisance around the ruck and burrowing over from 5 metres out. The conversion was successful from Lyth and the game was now in Hoppers hands.
Pressure from the kick off allowed Hoppers to set up camp once again deep in the Sedgley half. Poor discipline from Sedge after patient build-up play from Hops allowed for a penalty which was kicked for territory. The set piece for Hoppers was effective, with rolling mauls being disrupted illegally from Sedgley. Penalty after penalty lead to pressure from Hoppers in the set piece and rucks. The referee finally lost patience and sent the Sedgley centre to have 10 minutes in the sin bin for persistent offending.
From the lineout, the maul was entered illegally from the side by the tight head, who also joined his centre counterpart in the sin bin. His strong language on the field left a lot to be desired, which ultimately ruined a determined Sedgley defensive effort. With time running out, another penalty lead to a 5m lineout, which saw Brown recieve the ball in the back line. A short pass inside to replacement back row Matt Mayor, who came out of nowhere at pace, saw him find his way to the Sedgley try line. The conversion was successful from Lyth from right in front and from there, Hoppers played out time.
Sedgley Park 3rd XV 17-19 Hoppers 4th XV
Overall this was a good team effort from the 4th XV and an encouraging performance. Special mention to Stuart Cooper and James Murphy who came into the team and performed really well alongside the regular lads.
Next up- Fylde!