Hoppers made it five wins in a row with a comfortable victory over a Huddersfield side still looking for their first win. Sean Taylor lead the way with three tries, five conversions and two penalties to give him 31 points on the day.
It was a classy display with forward power and subtle back play that lead to Hoppers running in eight tries, however, they could have had had even more.
With multiple enforced changes to the lineup Head Coach Michael Lough was impressed with all 20 members of the team; “I’m pleased because we had a lot of injuries which meant bringing in a lot of young players who all did very well. I thought we started the game in a very positive style but lost our way towards the end of the first half, but we got it all together at half time and really turned the screw.”
“There were a lot of good things today so I can’t be too hard on the mistakes even though it’s easy to get stressed in the moment”
While Lough was adamant the win came from a team performance he did single out a few individuals; “Sean Taylor was great again and a special mention must go to the front row, especially Dan Madden. I asked them all to be as physical as possible and they certainly were.”
Hoppers looked good straight from the opening kickoff and once again got early points on the board through Taylor’s second minute penalty. Huddersfield’s Tom Owen levelled the scores soon after but Hoppers forwards then took control of the game.
They were able to retain ball well which opened up spaces out wide and soon found themselves camped in the visitors 22. This lead to two catch and drive tries touched down by Eddie Webster and then Conor Murphy with Cameron Curry being yellow carded in the process as Huddersfield committed several penalties.
Hoppers would score two further first half tries to secure the bonus point before half time. Taylor grabbed his first try after Hoppers stole a scrum and a Phil Baines run with good support from Murphy combined will to put the full back away.
It was another stolen scrum that increased the lead as Hoppers pack were in complete control allowing quick hands down the blind side setting up wing Adam Birchall in the corner.
Huddersfield’s Ben Bell added a try just before the half after Hoppers gifted the replacement on opportunity to score after making a mess of clearing their lines from a defensive 5m scrum. Bell was able to just fall on a loose ball in goal to take the sides into the break 27-8 and with Hoppers down to 14 men after Karl Fitzpatrick was yellow carded for an off the ball incident.
Even down to 14 Hoppers were able to control the tempo in the second half. A superb solo effort from Taylor which started from a poor clearance kick, stamped there superiority as the full back collected the kick in his own half before setting on a scintillating run straight through the heart of the visiting defence. He would add his second penalty minutes later as Hoppers kept up the pressure.
With the game having to be completed with uncontested scrums due to a lack of front rowers for the visitors it opened up even more.
Birchall crossed for his second score in the corner after a great floated pass from Fitzpatrick and Jack Ward grounded a clever kick through from Josh Purnell, who came off the bench for a great cameo after a good game for the 2nd XV the night before, both tries came off the back of scrums with spaces opening up all over the field.
In between the two tries Huddersfield got a consolation score of their own, after an adventurous Hoppers move had come to nothing they launched a swift counter attack another replacement Tom Davies touching down to give the travelling support something to cheer about.
However, the final word was fittingly left to Taylor whose scything counter attack benefitting from broken field play rounded off the game in some style.
Thanks to Mike Craig for the pictures below.