Friday Night Lights
Having suffered a defeat to Bolton 2s earlier in the season, Hoppers were keen to avenge this loss and cement their promotion credentials with a win over their Division 1 rivals.
Bolton had kindly agreed to a Friday night game which transpired to be a good call as the winter weather wreaked havoc with rugby the day after. Not a single game was playable at Lightfoot Lane the following day.
The stage was set, a local derby in front of the Friday night faithful. Had this been college ‘ball’ we could have anticipated a few thousand eager fans… we had to settle for the 50 or so hardy northerners that sacrificed a nice night in the pub for a cold wintery night.
The warm up focused around breaking up the hard areas of the pitch. Having not been able to train much over the recent weeks due to the poor weather Hoppers 3s needed to blow out the cobwebs early on if they were to overcome a robust looking Bolton side.
From the kick off the big Hoppers’ pack looked to press home their weight advantage. Whilst the pack did what they do best, control the breakdown and set piece, the backs were struggling to find their rhythm. In particular Taylor was struggling to catch a cold let alone a pass and it was pretty bloody cold. Despite his best efforts lobbying Captain Peterson to change the match balls at half time it appeared that only Procter was clever enough to demonstrate he was clearly right… the balls did have no grip.
Within five minutes Hoppers broke the deadlock. Alan Howarth going over for a well worked try. If I had written the match report earlier I may have remember if Peterson converted. It wasn’t long before Hoppers increased their lead, Rick Barnes finishing off a lovely move following neat interplay between Ward and Howarth. Rick notched up his second in quick succession this time following a neat kick from Ward and some smart work from Howarth and Deakin in the centres. Taylor would have been next to score after being put through clear but still unable to get to grips with the match ball, dropped an easy pass from Rick… should have gone in for your hatrick Rick – idiot!
Probably should give the forwards a mention given all the sterling work they were doing at this point to nullify the Bolton pack. Won’t name you individually lads but you make it all possible. Sometimes it’s hard trying to play sexy rugby all the time but I just think to myself ‘do I really want to hit that ruck or go into that maul’ or ‘wheel that scrum’ or do I want to ‘hit that miss pass’. Those of you smart enough to know will have clocked I am clearly trying to buy time here because I can’t really remember too much of what happened. I am hoping my sub editor Terrance will fill in some gaps with the same amount of scrutiny he likes to edit my usual reports.
So Deaks definitely scored two, one of which he should have definitely passed to me but having looked outside and seen me and Proccy I don’t blame him for taking on the 5 covering defenders.
I have had a rethink and maybe I should name some of the forwards… buy some more time. Fill a few more lines. Waste a bit more of people’s time.
James Mawds, who had a fine game ran in for two as well. The ever present Rich Morton was ripping it up off the boot. Seldom is a prop graced with such fine footballing skills as possessed by the big man. I am pretty sure that his try came from his own kick!!! Unheard of.
Meanwhile the bionic arm of Mollinga supported by his backrow buddies McGuire and Mills, the latter looking very refreshed having had a nice mid-week holiday camped outside Royal Preston, were stopping Bolton in their tracks. Steely, Lambo and Riggers, as usual, were hard at work down in the engine room keeping the fires roaring.
The final scorer I believe was Adam Saleh, the prop come centre earning a promotion after last week’s vintage display for the 4ths away at Fylde.
The match was capped off with an incredibly ambitious drop goal attempt from Taylor, with space to run, he slowed up, set himself, the crowd gasping as it became clear what was unfolding!! Peterson was the first to yell out his objection. This was shortly followed by most of his teammates, alas it was too late. The ball had left that trusty left boot. It was a fine strike, straight and true…….. Tune in next time readers.
Bolton may have felt somewhat aggrieved at the result. After bullying us back at their place they could be forgiven for thinking that we had bolstered our team, however I can assure them that this was not the case with every player featuring regularly for the 3s. A stern test away at Rossendale awaits us next week.
Preston Grasshoppers 3rd XV 57-0 Bolton 2nd XV
Report by Ben Taylor
Photograph by Lee Sutton Photography, the full album from the game can be viewed here.