With a mixture of those that are new to the game, those returning to the game from long term absence and a sprinkling of current players who are returning from injury, Hoppers Ladies 2nd XV took to the field last Sunday. With a strategy focused on learning, developing and having fun, the girls not only put in an impressive performance, but managed to win 64-22 against a determined Bury Ladies side.
With Bury only having 13 players, Hoppers winger Olivia Jack stepped up to play for Bury and in addition Hoppers agreed to also drop a player to make the game an even 14-a-side affair – It wasn’t all about winning! With that sorted, the game started and it wasn’t long before Bury made their mark when Olivia broke past the Hoppers defence out wide and strolled over for not only the game’s first try, but her first try this season (Noted Liv J). With the conversion good, Bury led 0-7 however, Burys lead didn’t last long. Soon after, debutant Rosanna Fane playing at inside centre, showcased some quick feet and made it through a strong Bury defence to score a try close to the posts which was duly converted by Stephanie Gray giving Hoppers parity at 7-7. This seemed to settle the home side as well worked tries subsequently came from Katherine Lang and Captain Rachel Dennison after some well worked passages of play. With Stephanie Gray converting the latter try, Hoppers went into a 19-7 lead. Bury, not phased by the score line, rallied and worked the ball into the Hoppers 22. Trusting the strength in the pack, Bury pushed forward around the fringes and finally managed to squeeze a hand just over the line to score. With the conversion wide, Bury closed the gap and Hoppers led 19-12. Hoppers response was perfect as they pressed hard from the kick off, forcing errors in the Bury lines to turn over the ball. Pushing forward through quick bursts of play, offloading into support, the returning Becky Western drove over and scored her first ‘legal’ try in 6 years. With Stephanie’s boot putting the conversion through the posts, Hoppers increased the lead to 26-12. Bury responded with a breakaway try from the kick off to close the gap, 26-17 however, soon after, Sarah Lovejoy, playing at No.8 scored just before the half and with the conversion just wide, Hoppers led 31-17 at the break.
With changes made at half-time, including Olivia Jack returning to the Hoppers ranks and Tasneem Vahed going over to play for Bury, the chat was all about more of the same and to keep enjoying it. That the Hoppers girls did however, Bury started the half re-energised and soon found themselves on the scoreboard again. With the conversion wide, the score was now 31-22. Hoppers responded and it was from the captain Dennison who stepped her opposite number to score a wonderful try from the half way line. With the conversion wide from Gray, the score increased to 36-22. Further points came in the second half from Sarah Lovejoy, Claire Platt (another debutant), Olivia Jack (her first for Hoppers this season) and a second try for Rosanna Fane on her debut. With Stephanie Gray converting all, Hoppers won the game 64-22 however, the score did not reflect the game as Bury played a competitive game of rugby in the right spirit, pushing the more experienced players in the hoppers side. We look forward to the return fixture with them.
A productive day for the side and with debut’s made, former players returning and valuable minutes for players coming back from injury, Hoppers look forward to the future.
Hoppers are now focused back on the 1st XV with this weekend’s fixture being a tasty away trip to league leaders Didsbury, unbeaten in the campaign so far. With all to play for both sides know that this is a defining fixture at the season’s halfway point.
Up the Hoppers!
Hoppers 2nd XV:
Klaudia Rzepecka, Amelia Lancaster, Louise Harrison, Sarah Boaler, Rachel Martin-Gray, Beckie Western, Jay Baker, Sarah Lovejoy, Stephanie Gray, Katherine Lang, Vicky Kenyon, Rosanna Fane, Rachel Dennison (Capt), Tasneem Vahed, Olivia Jack, Jamie Connolly, Claire Platt