Hoppers 2nd XV 31 Macclesfield 2nd XV 8
The second team produced their best performance of the season as they overpowered last season’s champions Macclesfield at a sunny Lighfoot Green.
A healthy crowd were treated to an entertaining clash between two well drilled sides in what was a great advert for the Bateman Premier League.
The first half was something of an arm wrestle as last season’s top two battled for supremacy at the breakdown and patiently searched for a chink in their opponents well drilled defensive line.
The Macclesfield loose forwards worked gamely at the tackle area but they were matched by Wallace, Doney and Taylor for the home side.
Hoppers first opportunity came after twenty five minutes but Farley’s penalty hit the post. The hosts kept the pressure on and the young centre had another shot but his effort fell just short.
Young’s men finally broke the deadlock five minutes before the break after some good work by Yates and Doney saw lock Dave Perry touchdown. Farley added the extras and Preston led 7-0.
The break appeared to come at a good time for the visitors as they hit back with their first attack of the second half. The Macclesfield back three had pace to burn and they countered well down the left wing although Hoppers will look back on some weak defence. The visitors couldn’t convert their score but it was game well and truly on at the Green.
However, the Hoppers pack began to take control, winning the battle of the breakdown and causing Macclesfield all sorts of problems scrum time. Roebuck’s running from ten began to ask questions of the Macclesfield outside backs and Hoppers were crucially maintaining territorial advantage.
Hoppers extended their lead as the pack drove a line out over which allowed man of the match Wallace to score. Farley added the conversion to put Preston into a 14-5 lead.
Macclesfield tried to claw their way back into the game and an impressive counter attack saw the men from Priory Park breach the Hoppers defence. The home side scrambled impressively to prevent what seemed a certain try but were eventually penalised allowing the men in blue to reduce the arrears to six points.
Hoppers backs made a statement of their own as a well executed backs move had the visitors in trouble. Mabaya then carried powerfully and the Macclesfield defence had no alternative but to kill the ball. The resultant penalty from Farley took the score to 17-8.
Two huge tackles of Mortonesque proportions visibly lifted the home side and the Macclesfield pack began to wilt. Another powerful scrum saw Hoppers win another penalty and the Macclesfield scrum half sin binned for what can only be described as petulance.
Macclesfield managed to defend their lines but were unable to secure their own ball at the next set piece. This allowed Young to snaffle a loose pass before feeding Flynn who tracked a good line to score a converted try near the posts.
Hoppers weren’t finished yet as some neat footwork from Roebuck saw the home side deep into Macclesfield territory once more. Wallace then bagged his second after Preston drove over the line out that followed.
Full credit to Macclesfield as they launched two late counter attacks in the hope that they could take some form of consolation back to Cheshire. However some brilliant cover defence from the back three and that man Taylor kept the visitors out.
The victory ensures that Hoppers remain top for the seventh consecutive week. Caldy remain in hot pursuit with an equally unblemished record whist the Fylde Hawks continue to make waves. Their ninety point demolition of lowly Sandbach further endorses their status as title challengers.
Next week Hoppers travel to mid-table Sale FC. The men from Heywood Road have acquitted themselves well since earning promotion and will be another stiff test of Preston’s credentials.