Hoppers 2’s 12 Sedgley Park 2’s 22
The second team were finally vanquished by Premier League favourites Sedgley Park in a fiercely contested encounter at Lightfoot Lane. In fairness the visitors just about deserved their victory, although the margin of victory flattered the men from North Manchester.
Sedgley started the stronger and scored early following a well executed line out drive. The home side struck back straight away after strong work by Ward, Haworth and Gale was finished off by Anthony Elliott. As the half proceeded the referee began to penalise Hoppers more frequently.
The visitors took control after some poor defensive work saw Sedgely score two quick tries. This was the first time a team had scored three tries against Hoppers and the home side were up against it. Hoppers fought back and Mabaya nearly scored down the left hand side but he was bundled into touch. Lough’s men turned round 19-5 in arrears and had allowed too many of Sedgley’s larger forwards to cross the gain line.
The break appeared to galvanise the men in blue and white and Hoppers would go onto to dominate the second half. Their early pressure was rewarded when Will Keenan scored under the posts, whilst the resultant conversion took the score to 19-12. Sedgley then had an opportunity to extend their advantage after some play-acting by their full-back led to a penalty which the same player would push wide. Unfortunately Hoppers were then deemed to have transgressed at the tail of a line out and the resultant penalty saw the visitors lead 22-12.
Hoppers were to dominate the remainder of the contest and the destiny of the match was ultimately affected by two crucial moments. Firstly the referee failed to award a penalty try after the visitors collapsed a driving maul on their own line. Shortly after Hoppers spurned an opportunity when Fletcher spilled the ball with the posts at his mercy. The replacement lock just failed to hold Matt Gargett’s off-load after the winger had made a blistering break on the counter-attack.
Sedgley held on to take the points but Hoppers will get two opportunities to reverse the result when the league splits after Christmas. There is little doubt that Hoppers are capable of winning the league this season if they maintain their good form although Sedgley are undoubtedly the team to beat. Despite the disappointment of their first reverse the squad was boosted upon hearing about the first team’s great victory at Stockport. Next week the second team face a difficult trip to Chester who have performed well this season.
The images below appear courtesy of Terry McGuire