Blackpool 36 – 33 Hoppers 5th XV
This was a definite game of two halves for the fifths away at Blackpool. One, which ultimately left the players disappointed with a loss. However a remarkable second half comeback suggests a win is not far away.
The game started brightly for Hoppers, as Jack Allan was driven over the line, with the strong support of Chris Nuttal, after good phases from an attacking lineout. Hoppers were committed to the game, but Blackpool’s first half dominance in the scrum and experience took hold, replying with four tries of their own.
Blackpool were not having things all their own way however; Ernie Gegieckas produced multiple lineout steals, big drives from Stu Hulse and Jack Allan, notable runs by Ryan Kirkpatrick and Chris Teasdale, the combined efforts of Andile Kalane, Chris Nutall and Alistair Worth holding up the ball over the line, as well as captain Mortimer’s pace for a big hit on a winger. Yet the score line of 26-5 told the story of the first half.
There was an ominous start to the second half, with a Blackpool penalty extending the lead to 29-5, but half time adjustments had steadied the scrum. With good phase one ball Hoppers started to show their attacking skills. Strong drives from the forwards pushed the home side into their own twenty two for Ryan Fleming to power over next to the posts.
Another Hopper’s attack had Wes Bradford making good ground on the left; the ball was recycled with a typical crash from Jonathan Clayton who offloaded to Scot Davies bursting through for a try 29-19.
A vital ten minute scoreless battle commenced. Notable for a 20 meter driving maul from hoppers, a 60 m kick to touch from Scot Davies, and Reese Rolland’s running return of a deep kick. Then 29-26, a team try combining the pressure and work of the forwards, finished by the backs with Davies jinxing past the full back for his second try of the game.
Hoppers were on the front foot and another score came; started by a wrecking ball crash from big Stu Hulse, followed by a drive and offload by Ryan Fleming, Thomas Davis sacrificing his ribs to provide fast ball for Rick Barnes to dash over in the corner for a 29-33 lead.
One lapse of concentration against a tap penalty left hoppers scrambling in defence. Despite a couple of big tackles, Blackpool never let the fifth’s defence settle, and exploited a dog leg to score what proved to be the winning try.
Final Score: 36-33
M.o.M: Jack Allan
D.o.D: Stu Hulse