Hoppers U13s v Eccles

Date: 07 January 2013

Eccles U13s  10    Hoppers U13s  40*

Blacksticks Blue (Lancashire) Cup, match day 6, 6 January 2013.

The first match of the New Year was away vs Eccles RFC who are also our closest rivals in Pool A. The day was very mild for the time of year, but quite misty and ‘dank’. The pitch was large and firm underfoot, ideal for Hoppers’ expansive style. Hoppers had a very strong squad out and with the starting back row all named Sam, surnames W,M,D! Very apt for the strong performance to come.

Hoppers kicked off well from Kieran and turned the ball over immediately, Hoppers attacking down their flanks, though some rustiness meant the first few attacks were halted easily due to Hoppers’ mistakes. Good runs by Duggy and Lewis started to test the Eccles defense, and the first try came early on. Eccles had several good drives to clear their lines, but the Hoppers’ forwards turned the ball over and Hoppers span the ball to their right through the backs. Jamie stepped inside and beat two players, before getting the ball to Harvey who had looped to the wing position. Harvey went over to score in the corner with the conversion missed, 5-0.

Harvey then scored a brilliant second try. From the kick off we ran the ball back well, recycling the ball quickly from the ensuing ruck  and moving it to the Hoppers’ blind side on our right. Harvey ran himself from stand off, cutting through the defense with exceptional pace – the only thing stopping him was the Eccles full back. Harvey, ‘stood him up’ expertly one way, and left him on his bum as he swerved the opposite way, outpacing the chasing defense to score. Conversion missed 10-0.

The Eccles kick off was not 10m, giving Hoppers the scrum on the half way and the chance to attack again.  We spun the ball wide again through the backs to the right with good handling from Jamie at centre. We then won quick ball and moved it left, taking advantage of the stretched Eccles defense, with Kieran powering through down the left hand flank to score under the posts. 15-0, conversion missed. Hopppers were now dominating — Harvey ran the ball back from the kick off, then put the backs away, followed by good runs by Teo and Owen. We lost the ball from the breakdown, but as Eccles ran the ball out via their big centre, Duggy collared him near their half way line, dispossessing him in the tackle. As the ball went loose, Kieran hacked the ball towards the Eccles line from about half way, he then chased the kick and expertly kicked  again, the ball falling just over the line just to the left of the posts. Kieran then dived over ahead of the covering defense to score an great individual try to make the score 20-0 then 22-0 as he improved his own try.

Eccles were still trying very hard and Hoppers needed good defense in the backs to keep them at bay as they took advantage of some time in Hoppers’ territory.  Eventually, Hoppers forced a penalty and Kieran put in a good clearing kick to their 22. Duggy won the ball from our throw, peeled and attacked on the narrow side of the line out. Good defense, though, put him into touch just inside their 22. Duggy then won the ball again on their throw to set up the next try, arguably the try of the day. The ball was moved quickly by Ollie to Harvey who ran a great loop move with Callum, before feeding Teo who then put Jamie away to run outside the Eccles defense to score wide on our right. Conversion missed to make the score 27-0.

Eccles, despite the scoreline, kept on trying hard, and showed really good spirit all day. Particularly their forwards who competed well all day, and put their team on the scoresheet after several drives close around the rucks and mauls. Finally, Hoppers simply ran out of defense and their player crashed over to make the score 27-5. Conversion charged down.

Hoppers were galvanized by this try, and they scored almost immediately after the kick off. A good Hoppers move down the right was stopped, and Eccles out rucked us to win quick ball and move it through their backs. However, Kieran stopped their big centre and ripped the ball, feeding it with a big, long pass to Teo on the right, who took the ball really well before brilliantly timing the pass to Sam W outside him. Sam W was stopped just short but off-loaded to Owen in support to score another great try. 32-5, conversion missed. Hoppers followed this quickly by another try, with Jake fielding the Eccles kick off, and after an initial mishandling ran the ball up strongly. He then fed Duggy who powered down the middle beating loads of Eccles defenders, before unselfishly feeding Kieran who ran in to score his hat trick. 37-5, conversion made my Kieran to make the half time score 39-5.

The second half saw several changes to the Hoppers team, but they started as they had finished the first half. Eccles kicked off and Hoppers ran back strongly.  Hoppers broke down the left hand side putting Jake away, outpacing the Eccles cover. A great tackle by the Eccles full back near the side line on their 22 seemed to have halted the attack. Kieran though had backed up on the inside and Jake was able to flick the ball to him out of the back of his hand!, witch put Kieran away and able to put the ball down under their posts. 44-5 as the conversion was missed.

Again showing great resolve to keep going, Eccles came back again to score their second to make the score 44-10. They attacked through their backs to the left hand side  and, through several phases, broke up the the Hoppers back line defense to score on their right. Eccles were now competing well, particularly in the forwards, with the game entering quite a scrappy period.

Again Hoppers picked up their game, having now made all the substitute changes. They scored again through Duggy to make then score 49-10. Good defense by Duggy, Andrew and the rest of the backs really put pressure on Eccles on their 10m line to our right, forcing them to spill the ball and give away possession – Duggy recovered it and ran in well, for his first try, though he had already had ‘assists’ in several earlier tries. Conversion missed.

The final try came after a period of good pressure by Eccles who came back into the game again, where the Hoppers’ forwards seemed to be slowing down and were not competing as hard around the rucks and mauls. Too many mince pies over Xmas? Kieran put in a good clearance kick, followed up well by Jake and then, following good work and strong runs by Adam, Harvey and Jake (again) we went over to score an excellent try. Harvey ran another loop in the backs to our right side putting Andrew away. He was caught, but set the ball well and the forwards won a couple of quick rucks to make ground. Hoppers then had slow ball at the back of a ruck, with Eccles lined up strongly on the fringes to defend. Harvey went in to cover scrum half, and brilliantly dummied to breakthrough their quickly advancing defensive line. Having breached the line the backs moved it to the left, putting Jake in on the wing to run round under the posts. 54-10 conversion missed.

The final whistle blew bringing the game to an end. On that note a big shout out to Eccles young ref who had a great game. Also to the Eccles team who never gave in trying, and their commitment, discipline and attitude was exemplary, despite conceding a number of tries  early on. If the competition goes to form, it will be Hoppers and Eccles qualifying in that order. Thanks also to the Eccles club for their hospitality with the crowd particularly enjoying the bacon buttes and coffee in the club house!

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