Photo courtesy of Mike Craig
Hoppers survived a late Kendal comeback to record their first home victory for three games. It did not come easy as difficult conditions played in to the visitor’s hands with Kendal growing stronger throughout the game and if not for a great try line stand they would have walked away with more.
Head Coach Dave Baldwin said; “it’s frustrating to only win by seven as we had put ourselves in position to do better and we could have picked up a bonus point by half time. We tried to play a bit too much at times and should have put the ball behind them more and as a result we got in to a dog fight in the second half. But our defence is improving all the time and our scramble defence at the end was very good.”
It was Hoppers who started brightly and were ahead inside the first five minutes after a great solo try from number 8 Conner Murphy. The dynamic back rower broke from the back of a scrum on the Kendal 10m line and with a mixture of pace and power and a lovely dummy went all the way to the line himself, Graham Holroyd added the extras for a perfect Hoppers start.
Kendal soon replied with a Andrew Boardley penalty and gradually grew in to the contest, Holroyd was unlucky not to restore the lead to seven when his penalty hit the post but Hoppers increased their lead after Jack Ward made a great break up the middle and while Sean Long was held up just short Matt Hughes was on hand to sneak over with Holroyd adding the extras from the touchline.
Kendal would score either side of the half to really bring them back in to the game; first a catch and drive was taken up to the line and scrum half Simon Davidson scored in the corner and after a Hoppers Chris Gale was sin binned they used their man advantage to launch another catch and drive with Garry Holmes touching down to leave Kendal just a point behind.
It was then up to the kickers and Holroyd was in great form adding three penalties, including a wonderfully stuck effort from over 40m in tough kicking conditions and while Boardley added one for the visitors to give them the bonus point it was up to Hoppers to mount a brilliant rearguard action to keep Kendal from the line, even when down to 14 for the second time when Ali Atkinson was yellow carded minutes before the finish.
Star man – Connor Murphy (Preston Grasshoppers)