Raging Bull Cup First Round – Altrincham Kersal 2’s 5 Hoppers 2’s 65
Ally Murray clambered out of the sin bin to complete a hatrick as Hoppers second string earnt a comfortable passage through to the next round of the Raging Bull Cup.
Despite being delayed by the Christmas shoppers, Mike Lough’s men opened the scoring after only 2 minutes. The impressive Matt Gargett made a fine break before putting skipper Cameron Berry in at the corner. Shortly after Murray grabbed his first after powering over from the base of the scrum. Tom Smith added the extras and Hoppers had a 12 point advantage.
Murray was at it again as fine play from centres Berry and Ward saw him go under the posts for another converted score. Ally’s brother Mark then got in on the act following a planned move from a scrum on halfway. Gargett was again involved and his pace troubled the hosts all afternoon.
Altrincham were leaking a point a minute and some slick handling from Tom Smith saw Berry notch his second of the day. Smith played his part once more as his pass sent Anthony Elliott over. The platform was laid however by the backrow of Keenan, Phillips and Murray. As the referee blew for half-time Hoppers were 38-0 ahead and their place in the next round was assured.
To their credit, Kersal never gave up and enjoyed their best period immediately after the break. Ally Murray was adjudged to have taken a player out illegally and was promptly given a ten minute rest. Shortly afterwards Altrincham scored their try and whilst they were visibly lifted by their efforts, it wasn’t long until Hoppers regained control.
Anthony Elliott then scored another great individual try, leaving two defenders in his wake. The young wing is currently enjoying a rich vein of form and has made real progress since making the step up to senior rugby.
Lock Mark Rigbye then got in the act following a burst by Jack Ward whose influence increased the longer the game went on. Smith added the conversion and Hoppers had breached the fifty point barrier. Murray atoned for his yellow card and completed his hat-trick after some fine build up play that again involved Mabaya and Ward.
Gargett then poached his first try after some indecision in the home defence that followed a smart cross-field kick by Smith.The winger then rounded proceedings off with a fine finish from 40 metres out after the excellent Mabaya had again laid the foundations.
Hoppers’ ball retention and willingness to push the ball wide were key features throughout the victory. Keenan and Mabaya had a fine afternoon, crossing the gain-line at will and taking defenders in their wake. Whilst in the three-quarters Jack Ward enjoyed his best game since returning to Lightfoot Lane. Altrincham, who apparently boasted several first team players in their ranks will be glad to see the back of Hoppers. The men from Lightfoot Lane have plundered nearly 150 points in their two meetings this season.
Hoppers travel to Broughton Park in the next round, a tie that will be played on the 21st January 2012. In other matches Sedgely Park enjoyed a walkover against Rossendale whilst Stockport and Macclesfield also progressed as expected. The 2’s are at home next Saturday against Vale of Lune, in their final league match before the competition splits into two conferences.