A team of eleven under 10’s made the trip across to Manchester for their Rugby festival and what would be the first fully competitive rugby the team has played this year. A glorious day greeted us, which set the day up perfectly for some excellent rugby to be played.
We were put in a group with four reasonably new teams to us (Manchester, Heaton Moor, Broughton and Sandbach), with Manchester being the only team we had played previously. This sense of the unknown always seems to come reasonably easy to our boys, allowing them to concentrate on their own game, rather than worrying about how the other team is going to play based on previous meetings.
The under 10’s gameplay in festival rugby is normally a little sluggish to begin with, slowly reaching a rising crescendo towards the end of the group stage, but this time round they really surprised us by hitting a higher gear from the first second. First up were Manchester, who having played them before, we knew would be a good test as to how well we were playing as a team. The Hoppers boys played together superbly and cohesively as a unit, defending everything that was put in front of them. We forced Manchester to knock-on on a number of occasions and winning some fantastic turn over ball. Game one ending up as a draw 1-1. Next up were Heaton Moor and having watched their first game, we had a feel for how they were going to play. The Hoppers lad once again did not fail in the task put before them, defending like giants, determined to do everything could to stop anything getting past. Some excellent rucking from the boys, in both attack and defence, made this a great physical contest. Game two once again ending 1-1. Next up for us were Broughton, this proving to be the game when the Hoppers boys hit top gear. Everything the boys had been expected to take on, new skills, rules, etc seemed to hit them during this game. The never say die defence attitude kicked in again, with the boys counter rucking and winning balls and even able to strip ball from their opponents in the tackle, it was a pleasure to watch the boys fully enjoy their game time. Game three ended up with a Hoppers win 6-0. Our final game in the group presented the boys with a team from Sandbach. Our boys continued exactly where they left off from game three, hitting out straight from the off, with Sandbach finding it hard to keep grips on the Hoppers boys within the first half. Game four finished another win to Hoppers 6-1.
This string of results in the group left us in a position of unknown territory, for the first time in our playing history we had finished within the top two of our group progressing through to the cup quarter finals, here we would face a Macclesfield team who had posted an impressive set of results to win their group. Unfortunately I think a combination of excitement in the boys due to progressing and a slightly longer than expected break before playing the quarter final, Hoppers got off to a very slow start in the game. By the end of the first half we were facing a 5-0 deficit, with Macclesfield proving to be far more organised and alert to the attacking options than we were awake in defence. The second half was a much more even affair, with Hoppers trying hard to break the line, but defending a lot more cohesively than they had. The second half finished 0-0, but unfortunately the game was well away from us at that point.
Hoppers try scorers on the day were Harry Cole (6), Connor Passenger (3), Noah Morris (2), Ben Heath (2) and Ollie Corlett
Our boys played with pride and passion for the shirt they were wearing and continue to impress the coaches and travelling army of parents that come to watch. With this continued enjoyment for the game and increase in skill levels, this can only lead to good things coming for the Hoppers Under 10’s