The new season began for the 4’s with the familiar journey to meet the old foe Fylde on Saturday.
Having achieved promotion following a successful campaign last time we were expecting a much tougher season and a derby match against Fylde 3’s would definitely provide a good test to get the season started. The team was made up of familiar faces with one debutante, Chris McAuley in the centre, and a couple of previous regulars, Jake & Booty, returning to the fray.
It was a typical early season game with plenty of handling errors from both sides. Hoppers gained the upper hand at both scrums and line outs, however early forward dominance produced no points and two early penalty attempts were missed by Tom Lyth who obviously hadn’t been keeping up his kicking practice over the summer.
Fylde’s tactics were obvious from the outset with with their quick and skilful backs shipping it wide to their pacey wingers at any opportunity. Showing good handling and support play, Fylde secured the first score around the 20 minute mark, the try was converted and Fylde took a 7 point lead. This didn’t dampen spirits and the forwards enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure in the Fylde 22 and following a series of scrums Hoppers were awarded a number of penalties one of which was taken quickly by Sands to go over for the first score of the season. The conversion was missed and the score was 7-5.
HALF TIME SCORE 7-5
The second half began much the same as the first with both sides enjoying spells of pressure. While camped in the Fylde 22 Rich Howard came charging at full pace but was unable to hold the ball as it was popped from the back of the ruck. Hoppers conceded a penalty for an early drive at the subsequent scrum and a quick tap from Fylde resulted in a break from the 22 and more good hands and support work resulted in Fylde scoring under the sticks. The conversion was put through & Fylde took a 9 point lead. Fylde then took a grip of the game and a second quick try looked a certainty when the 10 stepped past a couple of defenders to go in under the sticks. All had given up except for Ellery who continued to chase and tackled behind the line to prevent a grounding, this would later prove vital. The referee awarded a penalty to Fylde for an earlier infringement who took 3 points making the score 17-5.
From the kick off Hoppers applied the pressure and an excellent kick from Campo pinned Fylde into their 22. From the resulting lineout the Fylde 9 couldn’t gather and Sands charged through on the loose ball to score giving Hoppers hope. The kick was again missed. From the kick off a couple of phases followed and Meades made a good run to put us back in the Fylde 22. Several phases of possession followed, after which it was shipped to Jimmy Gray who was standing in at centre for the injured McAuley. Like he had been there all his life he stepped sending the whole defence one way allowing him to go in under the sticks. This not only gave Hoppers the lead but presented a kick that Mr Lyth surely couldn’t miss? He slotted it over to make it 17-22.
There was no time for Fylde to respond and the score remained the same until the end of the game giving the 4’s a winning start to the new season despite the ref claiming it was 22-22. Following a very sporting intervention from the Fylde Captain and a little discussion the victory was confirmed.
An excellent result and a great game to start the new campaign – well done boys!
Full Time – Fylde 3rd XV 17-22 Preston Grasshoppers 4th XV
For more pictures please check out these great shots taken by Craig Stevenson, aka Booty.
Simon Walmsley – 4th XV captain