Hoppers brought the 2010/11 season to a successful conclusion with a comprehensive showing at the Lancashire 7’s at Blackburn on Saturday.
With the squad showing a nice mix between youth and experience and being superbly led by coach Mike Lough (who himself was a sevens player of some note in his native Australia) the side played some committed rugby and were the stand out team from the word go.
In the pool stages they saw off hosts Blackburn, Burnley and Rossendale before they faced an unbeaten Vale of Lune side to decide who topped the group. After a strong opening by Vale, Hoppers kept their composure and with Russ Flynn, Phil Baines and new recruit Killian Wallace prominent they eventually ran out comfortable 26-12 winners.
In the semi final they faced a youthful Fylde side missing most of their star names and perhaps this made the hops a little over confident. At 12-0 down a shock appeared on the cards before a fightback from the lads eventually meant the game ended 19-19 and sudden death. Step forward rising talent Greg Horsfall!
Having been impressive throughout, the youngster caught a wayward penalty attempt and after some great footwork and some searing pace, he outstripped the defence for a superb 80 metre solo effort.
The final was against Vale and again the match was a hard fought contest. With messrs Charters, Flynn Morton and Baines all prominent the match was in the balance until some sustained pressure and a Charters break put Colt Jimmy Gray in for the clinching score. Great kicking from Horsfall and Tom Smith was a feature of the day and the extras put some breathing space between the teams. A further try added some gloss to the win and a trophy in the bag.
Player coach Karl Fitzpatrick paid tribute to his team mates. ‘I thought it was a real strong effort from all the boys involved. The older heads like Russ Flynn and
Rich Morton led from the front and the younger guys followed their lead. Everyone contributed and I am really proud of them all’.