The second team finished the season on an extremely encouraging note by beating the newly crowned Bateman Premier League champions.
Since winning their first fourteen games Young’s men have endured a frustrating time of things, hindered by a devastating injury list and a loss of form and confidence. As a result their last game was something of a dead rubber as they weren’t in the trophy hunt for the first time since 2011.
However their thrilling win on Saturday means that they finish the season with more victories, more points scored and a greater overall points tally then all of their rivals. Unfortunately Hoppers have fallen foul of the conference system for the second year running and but for a little more luck they could realistically be celebrating their third consecutive league title. Credit to the Tigers though as they have turned their season round in fine fashion and secured the championship.
Young’s men put in a fine performance yet travelled to Prestwich full of hope rather than expectation as their side was packed with teenagers and had a markedly different feel to the squad that began the season. The first half ebbed and flowed and Hoppers spent long periods defending their line. They still offered a threat of there own and caused the home side plenty of problems.
It was scrum half Harry Moulding who opened the scoring right before half time after some fine all round play. Allen added the extras and as the sides turned round the Tigers skipper was incandescent with rage. The Tigers began the second period with the proverbial flea in the ear and used the favourable slope to good affect. It was an old nemesis who brought the Tigers back into it as the quicksilver Curtis Strong scored a fine try. For the second time in eight days the Hawk come Tiger sliced through the Hoppers defence. Tom Leader added the extras and the scores were tied at 7 points apiece.
Preston showed real resolve and came right back at their hosts. Allen, who enjoyed a fine game, had two penalty attempts which fell just short. However it was third time lucky as he put Hoppers 10-7 ahead. Morris was put in the bin for the Tigers as he cynically prevented Proctor from scoring after so me excellent work by Parker.
Young’s men could not hold their lead for very long as their burly prop crashed over for a converted score. At first glance it looked as though Hoppers had defended poorly but Preston’s defensive line had been hindered by the referee who got himself in the way. Preston were unlucky to be behind 14-10 and they also the victim of what they felt was some pedantic refereeing.
Hoppers had plenty of time to snatch a victory and played a maturity and purpose which belied the inexperience of their side. Young’s men had the Tigers pinned in their twenty two and Strong attempted to counter attack. A fine tackle from Taylorson allowed Marshall to pinch the ball and Allen spun it wide to John Peterson who found himself at outside centre. The prop kept a cool head before deftly kicking the ball towards the try line where a grateful Sam Madden scored the decisive try. Allen’s conversion was short but Hoppers had a one point lead and managed to close the game out for an extremely satisfying victory. The Tigers win the war but Hoppers go into the summer with plenty of encouragement and a renewed resolve.
Keep an eye on the website for a review of the season that will follow in the next few days.