Hoppers edged out at Lions

Date: 16 December 2012


With four regular starters already sidelined with injury after last week’s battle with Stourbridge, the situation was compounded by the late withdrawal of skipper Dominic Moon through sickness. On a surface that resembled a paddy field rather than a rugby pitch, Hoppers were once again on the back foot in the tight and just as they began to make some inroads, a red card meant that they played the last 30 minutes a man down.

Coach Michael Lough expressed disappointed with this third loss in a row. “There were some good signs, especially in defence but again we needed to front up more to the physicality of our opponents, although there was no lack of effort. The red card made a big difference and we did well to limit the Lions to three more points. Sam Kindred had a difficult time at the base of a retreating pack and kicked well.”

Hoppers took an early lead as Sean Taylor rediscovered his kicking form to slot a second minute penalty and some centre-field action followed with both sides struggling to come to terms with the conditions.

After 26 minutes a long clearance kick from Kindred set up the platform for Taylor to kick another three points after a home forward killed the ball bringing a warning from referee Fitzmaurice.

The home pack continued to turn the screw in the tight and, after a line break by the dangerous Gareth Collins, laid siege to Hoppers’ line. A penalty try loomed as three 5-metre scrum drives were stopped illegally but the ball then squirted out with the predatory Collins on hand to touch down in the corner and Johnny Lowden’s conversion gave the hosts a one point lead. But Hoppers were to have the last word as another well-struck Taylor penalty gave his side a 9-7 lead at the break.

Hoppers started the second period brightly with Conor Murphy making a clean mid-field break but the supporting Kilian Wallace could not hold his off-load from the tackle.

The close quarter exchanges in the forwards led to some robust play and after 52 minutes hooker Phil Mills received his marching orders for foul play, putting even more pressure on a tiring Hoppers’ pack. But, despite an abundance of possession, the Lions were kept at bay due to a combination of sterling defence and unnecessary attempts to force the play until the 69th minute when replacement John Boden’s penalty crossed after striking a post.

With fresh legs from the bench, Hoppers refused to buckle with full back Taylor joining the pack to repel repeated would-be pushover tries and secure at least the losing bonus point.

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