5th XV beaten by last minute try
Last weekend saw the most local of derbies, Hoppers 5th XV playing the 6th XV. Previous seasons have resulted in one sided affairs – a demonstration of collective experience/ex first team over youth and social rugby. With a more settled 5th team this match was keenly anticipated and with near 60 players volunteering to represent Hoppers on either side, this was a good advert for the health of the game and the club.
The game began well for the 5ths, despite the kick off not going to plan, the second row of Allen and Moorhen combined well with Nuttall to produce some strong carries, taking the ball into the opposition half. The 6th XV’s pack infringed at the breakdown which Markland duly converted.
It is fair to say that the veteran 6th team were on the back foot and not coping with the intensity of the pack or the speed of the back line. For the next 10 minutes the 5th’s were camped in the opposition 22, unable to convert successive scrums or line outs into points – equally the opposition struggled to clear their lines any time the ball came their way. Whether it was the desire to win the derby, or the bottle of port – everyone had upped their game, with even Singleton throwing at least half of his line outs straight. Unfortunately the greater experience and weight in the veteran’s scrum told, and they won several vital scrums.
Eventually, the 6th XV took a quick throw close to their own line and looked to be on to score until Kasper, playing only his second game, up-ended his opposite number with a monster of a tackle. The ball came loose and without hesitation he was back on his feet to jog down the other end of the pitch and score underneath the posts. 15 minutes in and the score was 10-0 to the 5ths.
The try prompted a strong response from the 6th’s, with only a last ditch tackle from full-back Kirkpatrick saving what seemed like a sure try. 10 minutes of intense pressure followed, with scrum after scrum being held on the 5 metre line and resolute defending. Eventually the ball was cleared to half way. From the resulting line out a ruck was formed, unfortunately a 6th team player accidentally stamped on the arm of captain Mortimer, whose manly yet shrill shout of pain signalled the end of his game and a yellow card for the offending player.
A reshuffle in the pack unfortunately unsettled the side, and a well taken quick penalty by the opposition scrum half was finished well in the corner. At half time the 5th’s led 10-5.
The second half was a more cagey affair. With a squad of 31, the unenviable task of giving everyone game time disrupted the balance of the side, and it is fair to say that the 6th team stepped up their game, taking control of the ball and trying to dictate play. The score remained the same until the 70th minute when miscommunication in the 5th team defence resulted in a score for the veterans, with the final few minutes delicately balanced at 10-10.
A draw seemed an unpalatable result for both sides, but perhaps a fair reflection of each side having the better of each half. Unfortunately inexperience showed once more for the 5th’s, and tired legs took the ball into contact one too many times in their own half. The 6th’s pack took the opportunity well and turned the ball over before a chip through was converted to take the game.
Man of the match – Kasper