Hoppers 2nd XV 52 Caldy 2nd XV 0
Preston secured a comfortable victory at a sunny Lightfoot Lane to consolidate their place in the upper reaches of Bateman Conference A. Young’s men score eight tries and at times displayed some smart offloading and potent back play. However at times they lacked patience and concentration.
There was a sense of frustration, as shortly before kick off Hoppers were advised that Caldy were unable to field a full front row. For the fourth time this season the game was played with uncontested scrums and an area of strength was negated for the home side. Not only does Hoppers pack give them real go forward but it also allows them the chance to reverse a mistake at the restart. As a result the game went through some fairly stagnant periods. Efforts were made to establish whether Caldy’s missing player would turn up but ultimately proved fruitless as the away side’s support staff were unable to shed any light on the situation.
Tom Hurst scored two first half tries including one effort in which Hoppers demonstrated their capacity to attack from all corners of the pitch. Olly Farley added another in addition to three conversions whilst John Peterson scored a fine try after a deft offload from Jack Wilkinson, who enjoyed a decent game.
Captain Farley opened the scoring after the break when he cleaned up a messy Caldy line out whilst a brace from Marshall and a searing long distance finish from Yates completed the scoring. Farley added three more conversions and Hoppers had a relatively straightforward fifty two point win.
The visitors offered little in attack and were a shadow of the side who caused Hoppers so many problems in the Autumn. Preston will be pleased with the clean sheet and some fine scores but will be frustrated that their scrum were denied a full work out. Had Young’s men gone through the phases there is little doubt that they would have added a further twenty or thirty points to their tally.
On a more positive note Wilkinson, Peterson and Proctor put in good performances whilst their was a very encouraging debut for 17 year old lock John MacKenzie who should be a first team player in the making. Additionally Marshall and Yates took their tries well whilst Hurst appears to be settling into the stand-off role.
In other results Sedgley Tigers thumped Stockport to cement their place at the top of the table whilst Sale FC upset Macclesfield. Young’s men have another week off and whilst the title looks a distant dream they’re looking to finish the season unbeaten.