Stockport 2nd XV 25 Hoppers 2nd XV 39
The second team secured a deserved victory at Stockport on Saturday and kept alive their hopes of securing runners-up spot in the Bateman Premier League.
When the season ends Young & Co will doubtless look back upon the campaign with a mixture of frustration and relief. The seemingly weekly selection headache saw Hoppers travel down the M60 with six front row forwards, one second row and four scrum halves in what was a pretty unbalanced squad.
However Young’s men started strongly, showing excellent continuity which resulted in a fine try from Olly Yates who hit the first of several good lines. Namesake Farley added the extras and Hoppers led 7-0. The visitors were then beset by a combination of poor discipline and complacency as they neglected their game plan. This was compounded by some soft penalties which gave Stockport a somewhat fortuitous foothold in the game. The home side drove a line out over and the scores were tied.
Marshall nearly scored right away after some dogged persistence but knocked on in the act of scoring. The home side appeared to grow in confidence and a couple of penalties saw them suddenly in a six point lead. Hoppers execution let them down and they were behind, despite dominating possession and showing the greater ambition.
Yates then bagged his second for Hoppers after some great counter work by Matt Gargett. Farley missed the extras but Hoppers trailed by just a point. Hoppers should have settled for half time but failed to clear their lines and gifted their grateful opponents an extremely soft try. Young’s men were the better, more adventurous side but trailed 20-12 at the break to a dogged yet fairly limited opponent.
The second half saw Hoppers with the wind at their backs and a flea in their ear after some stern words from Young. They started the half superbly as Kindred went down the blind side before feeding Perry, whose deft offload sent Marshall over. Farley added the conversion and Hoppers had the momentum.
Another converted score saw them take the lead. The Hoppers pack shoved their hosts over the line from ten metres and Farley touched down. Stockport had chance to hit straight back following an overthrown Hoppers line out. However the Beagles threw their pass forward when it looked easier to score.
Young’s men then lost Mabaya to the sin bin following a extraordinary passage of play. Yates went close but the Stockport full back managed to touch the ball down. However the home side’s man seemed intent on antagonising first Yates and then Elliott. Something of a melee ensued and, somewhat bizarrely, a Stockport supporter entered the field of play, becoming involved when clearly he shouldn’t have. To his credit the individual saw the error of his ways and left at the behest of the referee whilst he also apologised to the Hoppers squad at the final whistle.
Despite being down to fourteen players Hoppers kept applying the pressure and were winning the battle of the breakdown. Two penalties from Farley took Hoppers to a 32-20 lead with time ebbing away. Captain Farley then added his second try when he raced home from fifty metres after another turnover on the halfway line.
Preston had scored twenty seven unanswered points but were unable to shut Stockport out. The home side grabbed a consolation on the left hand side which made the final score 39-25 to Hoppers.
Overall it was a decent win for Hoppers but their were some ill disciplined moments which gifted Stockport their points. What promised to be a rewarding campaign will end in frustration with Sedgely Tigers likely to be crowned champions. For the second season in succession Hoppers will probably fall foul of the league system but they are already looking ahead to next year. Young’s men have no fixture next week but will rest up as they have three big games against Sale FC, Fylde and Sedgley to look forward to.