Liverpool Collegiate U14s 5 Hoppers U14s 34
Hoppers played their first friendly match for a while, after the successful pool stages of the Blacksticks campaign finished for us last week: three ‘halves’ were agreed to give time for squad rotation. The weather was mild and sunny with no wind, but quite a small, pitch heavy underfoot. Hoppers kicked off up the slight slope and Collegiate showed their intent by running the ball back – good tackles from Charles and, later, Ethan playing 10, preventing early danger.
Collegiate had the better of the early exchanges with an effective pack showing well. However, Hoppers were first to score following a great cover tackle from Ross broke up a dangerous attack from Collegiate in our 22 on the left. The forwards were there first and the ball popped up to Ben, playing at full back, who read the space on the blind side really well and ran a good 60m, outpacing the cover to score. 5-0, conversion missed.
Collegiate kicked off and attacked the Hoppers’ line again, but the Hoppers’ backs dominated in defense all day and on this occasion Jamie smothered his opposite man and stopped the attack. The backs worked well as a unit and in this period, where Collegiate had both possession and territory, Ben and Jamie particularly in the centre had to work overtime to keep them at bay. The big set of Collegiate forwards were gaining lots of ball for their backs, though Hoppers were holding their own in the tight, and the line outs. Well done to Henry on his competitive debut who never went backwards in the scrum, and Sam W who took lots of good line out ball. Sam W had a wow of a game, always taking the first hit up on their big forwards and worked really hard all day.
Collegiate continued to have the best of the territory, with Hoppers trying to run the ball out of their 22 in the backs. Nathan had a really strong run on the right wing, but on several occasions the greasy conditions saw us put the ball down and put ourselves under pressure. Good tackles were required by Hoppers in defense, notably from Ethan, Charles and Tom, and this was matched by some good defense from Alex on the Collegiate team, who made several try saving efforts. Further good runs were made from Nathan and Charles on our wings, and from Ben and Jamie in the centre matched by good defense from Collegiate to keep us from adding to the score.
Eventually, Hoppers did add to the score, following good handling in the backs. We span the ball to the left through Ethan to Jamie in mid field, who fed Ben in turn who made a strong run to the right stretching their defense. When we were stopped the forwards won good ball and we we span the ball back to the left, with Collegiate running out of defense, and Jamie ran the ball in under the posts, outpacing the cover. 10-0, conversion missed. End of the first period.
Hoppers made a number of changes and received the kick off, with Jamie running back hard. The pattern of the period was similar, with Collegiate continuing to win ball in the forwards, and Hoppers defending well in the open play – particularly in this period by Adam R, Tom, Ollie and Ross. Ross had a storming game, and rivaled Sam W for MoM. Collegiate drove the ball tight in the forwards and Hoppers tried to play a more expansive game. We relived some pressure with a great move to the right, the ball spun through Ethan to Ben and then Nathan, who was stopped again with a great cover tackle from Collegiate. We added to the score soon after though, starting with a great line out tap from Adam M, Tom span the ball well from scrum half through to Jamie, who made an excellent, half break, getting the ball out of the tackle to Charles on the left wing who outpaced the cover to score. 15-0, conversion missed.
We had the best of the play now, attempting to move the ball from all over the pitch. A combination of handling errors and good Collegiate defense keeping us out. In fact, Collegiate managed to get a score after intense forward pressure and drives saw them go over on their right hand side, despite some valiant defense from our lads, particularly by Alastair right on the line. 15-5 conversion missed. We had to work hard now as Collegiate took heart from their score, with good tackles from Matty S and Adam. We benefitted from this strong defense, when following their possession in the backs, we pressured them into an error and Nathan scored. We span the ball to the right where Nathan cut in against the grain and went past several defenders – as he was stopped by the collegiate cover, Ross took the ball on and nearly went over, but as we recycled the ball Nathan took it again to go over and score. 20-5, conversion just missed. End of the second period.
The third period saw Tom kick off really well and us gaining possession straight away as we held them up in the maul. Hoppers started to pull away as our backs continued to dominate and the big collegiate forwards started to tire. We moved the ball through Adam and Callum to Jamie who outflanked the opposition to score his second try of the day under the posts. 27-5, conversion made by Ross. Collegiate tried hard all day and never gave up, We still needed to tackle hard, though and notable was Adam R who was working really hard around the fringes.
We added to the score after a period of possession and territory by Collegiate, as Nathan scored his second with a great run down the right wing. We moved the ball slickly through the backs, and Jamie, who had a great all round game in the centre, put a perfect flat pass in front of Nathan to run on to it and power 50m down the wing. 34-5, conversion made by Ross. The final play of the day nearly saw us add to the score – we had done all the hard work but our player was caught as he tried to run the ball under the posts — fair play to the Collegiate cover player, and a lesson to all to secure the ball as you score!
A good work out for the squad with some stand out performances, and a great effort from Collegiate who tried hard all day. Thanks to the ref for officiating a good, flowing game and to Collegiate for their hospitality.