Hoppers impress away from home over in Douglas

Date: 10 November 2017

The Hoppers Ladies 22 strong squad travelled over to the Isle of Man to face the Vagabonds, a side the girls would have to be at their best to beat and their very best they certainly were as they ran out winners 10-26.

By Steve Tiernan.

Set back into the hills surrounding the Island’s capital, the Vagabonds facilities give the visitor a stunning view over Douglas bay however, the scenery was not the only thing the small crowd enjoyed. The rugby on show was excellent with some stunning performances from the girls from Lightfoot Green.

Vagabonds kicked off into the Hoppers half and immediately set out their stall, pressing quick and hard against the ball receiver forcing an error early on giving them a scrum just on the Hoppers 22. The Hoppers pack held steady and the subsequent defence from the Hoppers backline pushed the Vagabonds back, forcing errors to gain a penalty just on their own 10 metre. With the Vagabonds still walking back to defend, quick thinking from No.8 Danielle Nash allowed her to tap and make 40m down field before she was felled by the Vagabonds winger who managed to turn it over, before being forced out by the supporting Hoppers pack. With a lineout on the Vagabonds 22 won and moving wide quickly, an unforced error gave away possession and Vagabonds took the opportunity to kick long into the Hoppers half. Fortunately for Hoppers, Full-Back Christina Tully gathered the kick and with Winger Rachel Dennison in support mounted a strong counter attack into the Vagabonds half. With the ball switched into space further infield, Hoppers managed to get over the line however, it was deemed a knock on and the try disallowed. The subsequent Vagabonds scrum was won and they moved it infield into a strong Hoppers defence who turned it over. 10m from the Vagabonds line, the Hoppers pack kept it tight and punched forward around the breakdown, resulting in a deserved try from No.8 Danielle Nash. With the wind still swirling, Captain Kady Hall, playing at Fly-Half, just missed the conversion and Hoppers led 0-5 on 15 minutes.

The Vagabonds, undeterred came back at Hoppers, piling on the pressure from the kick off to force a clearance kick from Kady which gave the Vagabonds a lineout on the half way line. The Pressure kept building on Hoppers who defended well and when they knocked on from a maul, created from a lineout on their own 22, the Vagabonds managed to even the score when the 8 went straight down the blind unopposed to finish. With the subsequent kick wide, the game was even at 5-5.

Hoppers kicked long from the restart and managed to turn over possession from the first phase and built up some patient phases in the forwards. Vagabonds found themselves offside under the pressure and gave away a penalty on the 5m line which was tapped quickly by Sarah Lovejoy who put Danielle Nash in for try number 2 who was driven over the line by the supporting pack. 5-10 to Hoppers and with Kady Hall slotting the conversion, Hoppers led 5-12 on 30 mins. Hoppers seemed to rest on their laurels as Vagabonds hit back hard from the restart, retaining possession from the kick off and working the defence back inside their own 22. The pressure paid off as the Vagabonds 12, took the ball and ran through 6 missed tackles to score in the corner on 34 mins. The conversion was missed however and the gap was closed to 10-12, with 6 mins to go to half time. Hoppers restarted and refocused, kicking deep into the Vagabonds half once more. Relentless pressure resulted once again in a turnover of possession, during which a Vagabonds player seen the wrath of the official and was asked to rest for 10 mins for a high tackle. With the clock ticking, Hoppers pushed towards the try line, keeping possession and changing the point of attack into a now tiring defence. The try then came as some fantastic hands from Kady Hall released Charley Brunton into space and ruthlessly she took the spoils, crashing over just wide of the posts, taking 3 vagabonds with her. With the conversion good on the stroke of half time, the girls led 10-19 in what was now an enthralling game, albeit for the neutral.

The second half started well and for 25 mins the vagabonds dominated possession probing for any opening that would give them that elusive score. It was not to be as Hoppers defended and counter attacked well and on 70 mins, Sarah Lovejoy, threatening all game, took a wonderful interception and ran it home. With Kady’s kicking becoming more prolific, the conversion was again good and Hoppers led 10-26 with 10 to go. The Vagabonds gave everything to score in the second half and with a defence from Hoppers that didn’t flinch under great pressure, the referee blew the final whistle and hoppers celebrated a wonderful victory against a strong, spirited and capable Vagabonds side.

Up the Hoppers

Hoppers starting XV: Emma Pooley, Kelly Singleton, Charley Brunton, Michelle Christy, Kira Hope-Baines, Mollie Paling, Haley Ciotkowski, Danielle Nash, Stephanie Gray, Kady Hall (c), Olivia Jack, Sarah Lovejoy, Heather Creighton, Rachel Dennison, Christina Tully.

Game Changers: Becky Ingham, Lisa-Marie Jones, Sophie Williamson, Natasha Ward, Dawn Jones, Klaudia Rzpecka

Forward of the match: Kira Hope-Baines

Back of the match: Kady Hall

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