PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS 4th XV 66-7 ORMSKIRK 2nd XV
4th XV START 2018 WITH A WIN
Report by Jimmy Gray
Hoppers 4th XV first fixture of 2018 was against Ormskirk 2s at Lightfoot Green. In the corresponding away fixture in September, Hoppers played out a 29-29 all draw in a close, tough contest. The games between the sides in previous seasons have been very close encounters.
Pitch 2 was the location – which was in surprisingly good condition considering the weather conditions in the days previous. Team selection saw a couple of new faces in centre Chris Jenkins, winger Martin ‘Tinny’ Taylor, centre Dale Sutton and young colt back row Darren Hill alongside usual 4th XV faces in Rob Burn, Ben Murphy, Rhys Phillips, Nick Johnson, Martin Bowden Williams, James Barnes and Will Douglas.
The game started 13 v 12 due to Ormskirk missing a few players. From the opening whistle, Hoppers were on the offensive and good phase play saw prop Kane Fenech cross over for the opening try of the game, which was converted by full back James Barnes. For most of the first half was spent in the Ormskirk half, with silly mistakes allowing Ormskirk to clear into the Hoppers half.
On the occasions where Ormskirk had the ball, the Hoppers defence was holding strong with Will Douglas, Kirton, Phillips, Johnson and Chris Jenkins prominent. When Hoppers played some sensible rugby in the Ormskirk half, try scoring opportunities were taken by second row/back row/centre Claude Kirton who scored 4 tries with James Barnes converting all but one of them for a half time score of 33-0.
The onlooking Chris Johnson reiterated in the half time huddle that Hoppers were very guilty of wasting a lot of scoring opportunities during the first half and needed to start playing to the game plan.
The second half started with Ormskirk starting to play some rugby, with Hoppers on the back foot after a few penalties. This allowed the Ormskirk backs to combine to send the Ormskirk 12 over the line and under the posts for a deserved converted try.
Hoppers upped the tempo, and good ball from the set piece saw fly half Nick Johnson (operating very well at fly half in the enforced absence of his older brother Alex) pass the ball to centre Chris Jenkins who ran around Ormskirk defenders with complete ease to score a deserved converted try.
From the restart, good running from forwards Callum Watson and colt Darren Hill saw Ben Murphy stride out and score under the posts. Good handling from the backs saw winger Martin ‘Tinny’ Taylor show great footwork and jink his way past Ormskirk defenders and run in under the posts. Hoppers were running the game now, and good defensive pressure created a Ormskirk mistake and “Tinny” hacked on twice to chase down and score his second try of the afternoon under a lot of pressure.
The final try of the afternoon saw colt Darren Hill again went on a damaging run in the loose, where he offloaded to captain Jimmy Gray who showed some footwork to beat a few defenders and run in next to the posts. Scrum half Tom Lyth converted.
After a slow first half to the season, Hoppers started the second half of the season with a win.
A mention to Ormskirk 2s, who competed well throughout despite the lack of numbers and made Hoppers work hard for all their tries.
D of the Day – fly half for the day Nick Johnson for a woeful attempt at a Crossfield kick which went straight out on the full
Man of the Match – Claude Kirton for his 4 tries.
Notable mentions to Martin ‘Tinny’ Taylor, Chris Jenkins and Dale Sutton for being a handful all afternoon in attack and defence.
Next up for the 4ths – a home game against Burnley 2’s on the 20th January.
Fenech, Bowden Williams, Douglas, Watson, Murphy, Kirton, Phillips, Gray, Lyth, Johnson, Burn, Sutton, Jenkins, Tinny, Barnes
BLACKPOOL 1st XV 36-14 PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS 5th XV
HOPPERS PUSH THE LEADERS
Report by (the broken) Chris Nuttall
The first match for the 5ths in 2018 was away to early leaders Blackpool. Without regular team captain Mick Mortimer, the stewardship was left to the birthday boy DJ! With only 12 players due to call ups for the 4ths and 3rds, the dirty dozen arrived in Blackpool in determined mood to find our hosts able to loan players to make a full 15 due to an abundance of players looking for a game after Thornton Cleveleys had their match called off.
The 5ths with the low January sun in the eyes of the away side they kicked off. A thundering hit by Luke Jackson in the first tackle set the tone for the match. Within the first 5 minutes Hoppers had the opportunity to take the lead through a penalty about 30 metres out. Unfortunately, the usually dependant DJ hit the rickety crossbar and it bounced in the field of play. The match continued with Blackpool breaking away but some powerful defence by the visiting team especially from winger Callum Burnes and debutant full back Angus ‘Goose’ Kinder keeping the Blackpool attacks at bay.
Goose and Callum were soon in action at the opposite end of the field. DJ kicked to the open field deep in the Blackpool 22, the fullback dropped a relatively easy catch. Goose and Callum were chasing the kick and put pressure on him. Unfortunately, he managed to side step them both and he must have thought he was clear through. Then Lee Carruthers hit him with strong tackle to end him in his tracks. The home side soon made the breakthrough. The home side had a penalty and took a quick tap around the halfway line on the right-hand side of the field. They passed the ball through hands of the left winger who beat the two would be defenders of Chris ‘T-Bag’ Teasdale and Goose to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.
The next few moments were surrounded in controversy, at a ruck a friend of the 5ths, Mick Harrison scuffled with George Wrona for an off the ball incident. After the handbags had been put away the referee decided only a penalty and a telling off was required. Soon after this Dan ‘Kiwi’ John was the recipient of what could have been considered a tip tackle as he his legs was well beyond the horizontal. The referee didn’t give a penalty presumably for him being put down safely.
Blackpool soon extended their lead before the break with two tries which were converted to give the home side a 17-0 advantage.
The second half kicked off, with the 5ths showing they meant business. Soon they were camped inside the Blackpool half, with consistent infringements by the home side. Jay Plummer at scrum half was commanding the pack around like a true scrum half. The forwards were making strong inroads into the Blackpool defence. Soon the away side had their first score, a move through the backs gave the ball to T-Bag, he stormed away down the left beat one would be defender through sheer pace before cutting inside. Avoiding the swampy parts of the pitch and gaining his footing onto the firmer ground in the centre of the pitch he side stepped the full back with the grace of a ballerina performing a pirouette before and scoring under the sticks. DJ added with the conversion, to make the score line 17-7. Game on!
The 5ths kept the pressure on, kept going to the blind side and causing 2 on 1 situations but through a combination of poor technique, good defence and white line fever the 5ths couldn’t add another score. Soon enough Blackpool managed another try but couldn’t convert it.
Lee Carruthers thought he was next to score, after a typical bullocking run he was over the line but after much wriggling with the Blackpool defender the referee said he was held up and awarded a scrum, despite Lee being adamant he had scored.
The centre combination of Ben ‘Ben10’ Markland was making typical jinking runs with his evasive runs, alongside new boy Eddie was making excellent cutting lines and making ground very quickly.
The flanker Will Davies soon turned from destroyer to creator. He did an uncharacteristic kick from the centre of the field, with his lack of skill in this area being his friend. The ball landed in no mans land between the two sides, there was a series of scrambles where neither side really managed to get control of the ball. Somehow Will Davies ended up with the ball and was through a gap. He looked around for support and passed left to the oncoming Luke Jackson who besides wearing Blackpool shorts and socks scored unopposed under the sticks. DJ scored the conversion to make it 22-14 with 10 minutes left.
With all the hard work that the 5ths had put into the match, it was inevitable that energy levels would drop off. Blackpool scored two tries in the last 10 minutes to give the final score of 36-14 to the home side. Against all the odds the match was a much closer than what many would have anticipated before the match had taken place.
A thank you to the home side for lending of players for the front row which helped in an entertaining match.
DOD – No one!!
MOM – The entire team from 1 – 15!
- Thornton Player – Excellent match against his former side, provided a solid platform in the scrum
- Blackpool Player – Playing against his brother (who happened to be Blackpool skipper) stole plenty of balls against the head and threw well in the line out.
- Dave another Blackpool Player – Provided a solid platform in the scrum and strong defence.
- Kiwi – Didn’t lose many line outs and always provided a running threat.
- Luke Jackson – Stopped the big, strong Blackpool runners in their track scored a try!
- Will Davies – Excellent scavenging in the ruck and provided of one of the best tries of the season!
- George Wrona – Excellent calls in the lineout and being constant thorn in the side of Blackpool’s attack.
- Lee Carruthers – Strong tackling and runs shame about the try not being given. Held together by more tape than found in a tape factory by the end of the match.
- Jay Plummer – excellent distribution, communication and direction from the scrum half.
- DJ – Captain for the day and led the team around the park with some excellent play.
- Chris Teasdale – Took his try well and excellent vocals from the winger to give information to his team mates.
- Ben 10 Markland – The centre with his jinking runs and always an outlet with his kicking game.
- Eddie – Excellent running through the game, excellent distribution to the outside support.
- Callum Burnes – Kept running all match, provided excellent defence when Blackpool kept persevering going down his side.
- Angus Kinder – Was safe under the high ball, always a support in both attack and defence. Excellent first match in open age rugby.