Hoppers 2nd XV 64 Sandbach 2nd XV 10
The second team made it nine from nine with a comprehensive victory over bottom club Sandbach at Lightfoot Green. Hoppers overcame a number of enforced changes in their pack and a storm of near biblical proportions to retain their place as leaders of the Bateman Premier League.
The home side enjoyed a significant weight and power advantage which saw them marmalize the Sandbach scrum on several occasions. However Young’s men will be slightly disappointed that their line out stuttered whilst there were occasions when they lacked their usual precision and continuity.
Hoppers spent most of the game camped in the Sandbach half whilst they probably enjoyed a good seventy five percent of the possession.
Mabaya opened the scoring as Hoppers made all the early running. Farley missed the conversion but made no mistake five minutes later when Tuff scored under the posts. The home side were guilty of a little lethargy but when Elliott put some pace on the ball the Sandbach defence was breached.
The visitors then, somewhat surprisingly, grabbed a try of their own. Some sloppy Preston play and an opportunist kick through saw the men from Cheshire seemingly win the race to ground the ball although the partisan crowd felt that Ollie Yates had averted the danger.
This seemed to rile Hoppers as Proctor broke a number of tackles to score under the posts. Farley added the two points and the league leaders were 19-5 ahead.
Man of the match Ryan Marshall then pounced on a loose Sandbach pass before feeding Flynn who coasted over. A matter of minutes later Preston’s dominance at the scrum was illustrated as they pushed their opponents over. The ever-improving Luke Proctor grabbed his second and Farley’s excellent conversion meant that Hoppers led 33-5 at the break.
The resumption was greeted with a spectacular cloud burst the like of which hasn’t been seen at the Green for many years. Unsurprisingly this upset the rhythm of the game and Sandbach pounced on some disjointed Hoppers play to score in the left corner.
Preston soon regained their dominance and Taylor grabbed what is fast becoming his obligatory score following another big Hoppers shove. The two debutants then got in on the act as totemic lock Joe Birtwistle crashed over for another converted try.
Shortly after, an excellent break from Ollie Farley resulted in a try for Jack Swarbrick who finished well. The extras were missed but the home side were good value for their 52-10 lead.
Yates then got the try which his excellent broken field running deserved. Some fine work by Taylor and Moulding fed the full back who scorched home from fully forty metres out. With time nearly up Swarbrick added his second after collecting a fine cross field kick by Mark Murray. The young winger nearly added the conversion but Preston could be well pleased with their victory.
Next weekend Hoppers face fourth placed Stockport who were narrowly beaten by second place Caldy. Meanwhile Fylde, Macclesfield and Sedgley Tigers all enjoyed big wins this weekend so the chasing pack are breathing down Preston’s necks.
Young’s men enter a run of games in the next few weeks which sees them play the three teams immediately below them. The sequence will act as a barometer for Hoppers’ title ambitions and Young will be rousing his troops In the coming week.