Hoppers 67 Liverpool St Helens 14
Hoppers resumed after the Easter break with a home match against Liverpool St Helens (LSH) on a calm, sunny and dry day. Spring had arrived, except for it being about 10 degrees too cold! Great conditions for the players though, and Hoppers had a good turn out of players from the squad, despite the school holidays.
Charles kicked off for Hoppers playing up the slight slope and immediately put LSH under pressure, forcing a knock on. The initial stages of match were a little scrappy and both sides were defending strongly, with a really good tackle by Andrew on the big LSH centre Tyler, who looked very dangerous even in the early stages. However, it was Hoppers who scored first. Following Andrew’s tackle on our right wing near our 22, which helped save a try, Hoppers’ forwards counter rucked and won the ball. After good continuity through several phases, including two strong carries by Henry and a loop move by him with Sam W, the ball was moved to Charles on our right wing whose run down the wing was stopped on their 22. Matty C, playing at scrum half, took the ball down the narrow side, showing great pace to score in the corner. 5-0 with the conversion missed.
Hoppers started to get the upper hand in the match and another great run by Charles on the left wing was quickly followed by Hoppers’ second try. Good work by Lewis and Owen set Sam M free on the right hand flank and he showed good pace to run past the cover to score. 10-0 conversion missed. It appeared that Hoppers were going to run away with the first half.
LSH though were still competing well and were attacking Hoppers strongly through their back line. Their big centre, Tyler, broke though down the centre and knocked off several attempted tackles by the home cover, only to be stopped by a high tackle near our line. The ensuing tap penalty was taken quickly and their player drove over for their first score. 10-7 after the successful conversion. This try galvanized The opposition and swung the momentum back to LSH – they ran back the ball really strongly from the kick off putting us under pressure and scored their second try soon after. Tyler ran through the despairing Hoppers’ defense to touch down making the score 10-14 after a successful conversion.
Hoppers now showed great resolve and struck back after excellent work by the forwards. From the kick off we pressured them again and again in their 22 and eventually we held them up in a maul on our right hand side and Ross broke away with a super run. He was stopped short of the line, but we recycled the ball quickly and won a penalty. A tap penalty was moved quickly to the left hand side through Owen and Sam W to debutante Ben wide on the left, who ran in strongly for his first ever Hoppers try. Conversion missed, 15-14.
Back came LSH to put pressure on us from the kick off, with the danger stopped after a strong run out by Charles to our 22. Hoppers were also still threatening and there was good work again through Owen and Sam W and good work by Aaron in running the ball out in defense. Lewis helped maintain Hoppers’ slender lead with a great tackle on LSH’s Tyler following another very strong run in mid field – probably the first Hoppers player to knock him down by themselves! The forwards then did excellent work to win the ensuing ruck and relieve the pressure.
Hoppers nearly scored again with a powerful run by Lewis down the centre of the pitch, beating several defending players with his speed and strength, only to be stopped by the LSH full back Ben with a great last ditch tackle. Half time arrived with the score still 15-14.
There were a number of changes in the squad for the start of the second half, and Hoppers started as they meant to go on, scoring directly from the kick off. Following the kick off by LSH, Sam M ran the ball back strongly and cleverly fed the ball to his back row partner Sam W. He then fed Kieran, linking in expertly from fullback on the right wing and, showing the stunning pace worthy of his new ‘international’ status, beat the cover defense to go over and score under the posts. 22-14 with a successful conversion of his own try. Hoppers were now starting to dominate and good back row play again saw them link well to threaten down the right, and all the forwards were putting pressure on any ball that LSH were able to secure. Hoppers scored again soon after to make the score 27-14 – the ball was moved well from a tap penalty and then was cut back against the grain to Kieran who was initially stopped, but a second effort saw him dive over to score. A successful conversion by Kieran made the score 29-14.
Hoppers were still having to work hard to control the game and there was notable work by the forwards including great flanker play by Sam M, who caught the LSH Scrum Half at the back of the scrum and then turned it over in the following ruck. LSH were still pressing, with the LSH centre Tyler still very dangerous in mid field. Callum and Jamie in the centres, and the backs overall, were now doing very well in defense in midfield and had nullified the threat to a great extent. Several attacks still came from the LSH backs a great tackle was still needed by Tom on the big centre to stop him scoring again. Soon afterwards the forwards delivered a turnover at the ruck and we threatened in their 22, with Owen powered in to score on the right hand side. 34-14 with the conversion missed.
Hoppers were now taking complete control. Owen fielded the from the LSH kick off and set the ball up well for the backs to spin it along the line to our left reaching Ben, now playing on the left wing. He put in a really powerful run on the outside , handing off his marker and speeding towards the LSH line to make the score 39-14, conversion kicked by Kieran to make the score 41-14.
Hoppers defense was now too strong for LSH and they did not really threaten to score again despite their continued efforts, with excellent defense from both the Hoppers’ backs and forwards. The next try from Hoppers came through Jamie after good work by the forwards to give the backs more quick ball involving a great series of phases. Initially, the ball was moved to the right and Harvey ran a loop move in mid field. As the LSH backs covered the outside line Harvey straightened and made excellent ground down the middle. The ball was progressed after the ruck by Kieran and Sam W and finally Andrew ran the ball in strongly, to set up quick ball. The backs then moved it quickly to our left and, as the winger committed to cover Ben outside, Jamie dummied and sidestepped inside to go over to score without challenge to make the score 46-14, conversion by Kieran to make the score 48-14.
Further tries now came quickly as the gallant LSH defense was totally stretched. Ben put in a great run on the left hand wing straight from the kick off and was just stopped short before the line. Hoppers then went through several drives, including really great rucking from Harvey to keep the move going. Eventually LSH just ran out of defense on our right hand side as the drives sucked in the defense, and Kieran ran in to score his hat-trick in mid field, making the score 53-14. Conversion made by Kieran to make it 55-14. Next try came again from Kieran – from the kick off we went through several phases of play until eventually we moved the ball to the right and after a great run by Jamie, Kieran was simply too fast and powerful to be caught. 62-14 following another successful conversion.
LSH never gave up and tried to the end. The final try though came from Hoppers after initial good work again on the right hand side, and great work in mid field by Harvey. Eventually, the ball was moved through the backs and by Jamie to Ben on the left wing to put him away for another strong run. He was only stopped by a great LSH covering tackle, but he very skillfully offloaded to Jamie who had backed up brilliantly inside. He went over to score his second try of the day and make the final score 67-14, conversion missed.
A strong win by Hoppers, but again this week, the endeavour and sporting approach from the opposition was exemplary. Coaches and parents should be rightfully proud of their kids’ attitude and discipline.