Hoppers U15 30* Blackburn U15 0
Sunday 19th April.
This was the last match before the Blacksticks Blue Lancashire Cup Final next week against Eccles, and it was ideal – pitching the lads against a big and competitive pack for which Blackburn are renowned. Blackburn were up for the challenge after their win in the Plate final last week and with ideal conditions for rugby, the decent crowd on the second team pitch were looking forward to an entertaining game.
Hoppers kicked off through Charlie, and Blackburn started strongly, returning the ball and putting pressure on Hoppers forcing a couple of penalties and winning good ball in the set pieces. Blackburn had some possession in the backs, but Hoppers’ defence in mid field was strong as usual, particularly Lewis playing in the unfamiliar position in the centre. Hoppers were starting to get into their stride, with good attacks in the backs, and Jamie making a good run on the right (a sign of things to come!) and Adam showing scorching pace down the left – he may have been injured, but he must have been doing some speed work!
Jake, playing at full back, was starting to be influential, joining the line down the right before offloading out of the back of his hand to give Jamie a chance on the right wing. Jake was also turning some rather ordinary clearing kicks from Blackburn into dangerous situations with strong runs, with Nathan nearly getting free down the left again from a Jake pass. Only the good work by Blackburn forwards preventing us winning second phase ball stopped us opening the score.
Hoppers were now starting to get the upper hand, with Adam seeing a lot of the ball and Alastair putting in strong runs and big hits. After another strong run by Adam, a super diagonal kick through by Ethan nearly saw Jamie try to retrieve the ball on the right wing, but it just eluded him and ran into touch.
Eventually, Hoppers broke the deadlock. Good work by Charlie saw us move the ball to the left, and Ethan broke through and went for the line, just being stopped short by the desperate Blackburn cover who managed to kill the ball. From the resulting scrum Sam W picked up from No8 and fed Jake who ran a powerful line from full back, who then drew the last line of cover and put Jamie into the corner, conversion missed.
Alastair received the ball from the kick off and ran back strongly. Hoppers were now taking the initiative. This was consolidated by great play by Charlie who reacted very quickly to a penalty for a high tackle, as he tapped the penalty and ran 50m down the right wing to score, conversion missed. The strong running from Hoppers’ forwards and backs alike was ensuring that we had good, quick ball as we consistently got over the gain line. The backs were also now starting to move the ball slickly through their hands, and Lewis, Nathan and Ethan combined well to set up dangerous attacks. Charlie again kept the tempo high with a quick tap, and fed Jamie who showed great strength to hand off his opposing number to go in for his second try with the kick made by Ethan.
Hoppers were starting to dominate, with slick back play matched by strong tackling, notably by Alastair who cut down their big No8 several times as they tried to make ground. Just before half time Jamie showed great pace to dive in for his hat trick try after great work again by Ethan and the backs, and Jake who entered the line and timed a great pass again to set Jamie free to score on the stroke of half time 22-0, kick missed.
Blackburn kicked off the second half to a much changed Hoppers team, but this in no way weakened us. An immediate sign of things to come saw Kieran make a mazy run to put Jake away on the right wing, who kicked through and just could not quite recover the kick to score. Soon after, we quickly used a tap penalty, moving the ball to the right, and Ethan broke through in mid field and was just too strong and quick for the cover to go over and score.
Hoppers were now dominant in all areas; Harvey was having his usual strong game now at centre, and Will strong and mobile at second row. We went on to score several more tries, and just as it seemed to be the try of the game, we went on to score an even better one! Firstly, after great work at scrum half by Tom down the right, Kieran took the ball back against the grain, before feeding Harvey, who held the ball well to then feed Ryan on the right wing who ran in to score in the corner.
Blackburn never gave up, and managed to get some territory in our 22. We then scored another great try with Kieran breaking out to half way, before feeding Jake who scorched away to run in the try under the posts, kick make by Kieran. Will was now having a storming game and the forwards were providing loads of quick ball. We added to the score from excellent individual skill from Kieran who kicked through extremely accurately for Jake to recover the ball to score, kick missed.
It was all Hoppers now, and Kieran and Jake combined brilliantly again for Jake to feed Kieran to score, kick missed. Tom fed Kieran from a very solid Hoppers scrum, who then made another great score by chipping over the Blackburn defence, recovering his own kick before feeding Ethan who sped over to score under the posts.
There then followed the actual try of the game – perhaps of the season! Ryan was left on the left wing defending one on one as Blackburn attacked. He was more than up to it as he drove his opposite number back, then ‘jackeling’ to win the ball for Hoppers at the breakdown. Alastair, and then Tom, ran the ball hard in to tie in the Blackburn defence. Callum then dummied to break and feed Kieran, who showed great vision to kick to the wing for Ryan to recover on the full and go over to score. What a try!!! Kick made by Kieran to bring the match to an end.
A good game, with Blackburn not giving up and playing the game in good spirit. Ultimately, Hoppers were just too strong in all areas of the game. Thanks also to the ref for a great performance. The lads are now looking forward to next week and the Lancs final at Southport.