Saturday 13th August 2011
Coach Dave Baldwin was disappointed with this result although the scoreline is not the ‘be-all and end-all of a warm-up game’. He continued: “They never really put us under sustained pressure and the majority of their tries came from individual break-aways. We enjoyed a fair share of possession and territory and competed well up front but did not turn the pressure into points. We also got our tactics wrong, sometimes playing too narrow a game but finished strongly. Quite a few positives but work to be done before the league season starts.”
Karl Fitzpatrick, making his debut as a player, stated his intention from kick-off, launching an attack from his own 22 but the pattern of the game was set when Park exploited a turnover and the pace of new recruit Harris saw him score in the corner. Fellow newcomer, full back Greg Smith from LSH, converted from the touchline and looks a useful addition to the side with a faultless place kicking display.
Hoppers enjoyed another period of possession and Sean Taylor linked well with Fitzpatrick to come close but it was the visitors who produced the next score as Chris Parrot chased a chip through on 10 minutes.
After two opportunistic tries, Park then showed good hands to put in wing Largan who repeated the exercise after another kick and chase. Hoppers reacted with some driving play with newly signed flanker Will Keenan and captain-for-the-day Matt Charters linking well and again came close but the half ended with a break-away and desperate home defence conceded a penalty at the posts to make the score at the break 31-0, hardly a reflection of possession and territory.
At last Hoppers got some reward for their efforts when Fitzpatrick’s long pass sent newcomer Kieran Hughes in at the corner and the fly half’s sharp passing and distribution caught the eye throughout the game. Park hit back with a further break-away try from a loose ball on 51 minutes and, for the first and only time in the game, put Hoppers pack under pressure to produce a pushover try for Ventner. Otherwise, Hoppers if anything had the edge in the tight with new recruits Andy Irving and Alistair Atkinson both doing well.
The home pack finished the stronger and a run and off-load by Mark Irving took his side into opposition territory with more good support interpassing before James Smith’s chip ahead was gathered by Matt Hughes at pace and, although he was stopped short, the pack was on hand to drive over, Chris Gale claiming the touchdown.