Saturday saw Hoppers 4th XV welcome Kirby Lonsdale 2’s to Lightfoot Green for an eagerly anticipated encounter. Hoppers were hoping to continue their good home form in the league, while Kirby Lonsdale were hopping to continue their impressive run , showed by their 2nd place in the league before the game.
Hoppers kicked off and had the wind in their face in the first half. They started brightly, with good intensity in defence and structure with ball in hand, lead by half backs Williams and Walmsley. Successive penaltes conceded by Kirby in their own half resulted in good field position for Hoppers from the penalties. Successive line out drives brought a lot of yards for Hoppers, this resulted in second row Graeme Howarth capitalsing, barging over for a try after a well constructed maul. The try was converted by fly half Dan Walmsley.
Hoppers’ good start continued, putting Kirby under pressure in attack with forwards Howard, Holden, Howarth, Meades and debutant centre Jonathan Clayton putting dents in the opposition defence. However, sloppy play by Hoppers at a quick tap penalty allowed Kirby to counter attack and score. The conversion was unsuccessful, this gave Hoppers a wake up call, this after a very promising start. Pressure from the kick off put Hoppers in a good position, allowing forwards to pressure Kirby in the red zone. This lead to a 5 metre scrum for Hoppers, and after being reset and huge pressure coming from the Hoppers front five, a penalty try was awarded, converted by Walmsley. The resulting kick off saw Kirby put a few phases together going forward, asking questions of Hoppers defence. This pressure lead to debutant centre Clayton getting a 10 minute breather from the referee for a ‘no arms tackle’ after a previous warning. Whilst Hoppers were down to 14 men, Kirby began to get into the game causing problems in the Hoppers red zone. This lead to a try from a quick tap penalty, and with the conversion successful Kirby were back in the game.
HALF TIME Hoppers 14 Kirby Lonsdale 12
The half time team talk by Captain Gray consisted of warning the lads not to be complacent whilst leading and continuing to play to our strengths in defence and attack. A head injury to hooker Holden meant the game went to uncontested scrums, with replacement and club stalwart Dobson bringing composure into the forwards. Hoppers were playing with lots of structure and were not afraid to run the ball into wider channels. This gave number 8 Meades, prop Cooper and replacements Dobson and Brown freedom to run. When Kirby had the ball, the Hoppers defence was solid with Murphy, Meades, Dobson, Hickman, Gray, Walmsley and Clayton being disruptive in the tackle and breakdown. The pressure lead to a penalty, which Walmsley slotted over from distance. Further good play from Hoppers lead to a penalty, which Walmsley had no problem converting. Kirkby were chasing the game, which was falling away as the Hoppers defence was resolute till the end.
FULL TIME: Hoppers 20 Kirby Lonsdale 12
A good, structured performace from Hoppers, in attack and defence secured another good win at home against a team above them in the league. The lads worked well from the first whistle and worked hard together to secure the win.
Howard, Holden, Cooper, Howarth, Murphy, Hickman, Gray (C), Meades; Williams, Walmsley, Smith, Clayton, Mayor, Foster, Burn
Subs: Dobson, A Meades, Brown