Wilmslow 2nd XV 0 Hoppers 2nd XV 82
Hoppers overcame the late withdrawals of Matt Neary and Greg Horsfall before recording a twelve try demolition of Bateman Premier League new boys Wilmslow. The men from Lightfoot Green also had to contend with a tortuous journey down to Cheshire which was beset by traffic delays. However thanks should go to our hosts as they were more than willing to delay kick off to 3.15.
Despite a somewhat comedic mix up from the kick off which saw lock Dan Fletcher hit in the most unfortunate place possible Hoppers came flying out of the blocks and a strong break from skipper Berry led to a try in the right hand corner from Oga Mabaya. The early score was converted by Allen who enjoyed a near perfect afternoon, slotting eleven of twelve conversions whilst seeing his other attempt strike a post. The young stand-off played a major part in Hoppers second try as he danced through the Wilmslow defence to put Berry under the posts.
Hoppers were already 14-0 to the good but credit to Wilmslow who came back strongly and exerted heavy pressure on the Preston line. To their credit every man in blue and white said I’ll not budge an inch and the home side were repelled. This was exemplified by Tim Molloy who galloped down the left touchline and seemed certain to score only to be bundled into touch as he tried to step the last man.
Hoppers were soon 21-0 to the good as Allen put Gargett in for the first of a personal brace. Allen, who controlled the game well then won a turnover which led to another score from, this time from Austin. The sides turned round with Hoppers thirty-three points to the good as some fine footwork from Reddick saw Gargett finish coolly for his second of the game.
With the victory secured Hoppers were at times guilty of wasting possession and if truth be told they spurned a further five scoring opportunities over the course of the match whilst there were times when they lacked the confidence to stay patient and play some phases. Despite Hoppers superiority, credit must go to a brave Wilmslow outfit who never gave up. However as the second half commenced it was clearly going to be a case of how many Hoppers could score and but for their occasional profligacy they would have comfortably smashed through the hundred point barrier.
Man of the match Keenan grabbed the half’s first try after the Preston pack made a total mess of a Wilmslow scrum which allowed the flanker to surge over. Austin grabbed his second shortly after and with both tries converted Hoppers led 47-0. Keenan then grabbed another after fine work from the centres Berry and Gargett before the Manxman won a turnover which led directly to a typically powerful run from Flynn and a deserved try for Reddick which took the lead to sixty-one points.
Flynn then added Hoppers tenth try and his score was no more than he deserved. The winger enjoyed himself on the wide Wilmslow pitch and he left defenders trailing in his wake on more than one occasion. Connor Murphy then broke from a maul for Preston’s penultimate score before big Russ crossed the Wilmslow line for the final time. Jack Banks then fell awkwardly and suffered what appeared to be a nasty looking knee injury. With the score at 82-0 and over five minutes remaining, the referee, who enjoyed an excellent game, called a halt to proceedings. This was probably as much out of sympathy for the hosts as it was for Banks but one can safely say that the quality of mercy is not strained.
Hoppers victory took them to the top of the Bateman Premier League but next week they face another trip to Cheshire as they face unbeaten Macclesfield. Young’s men face a fierce test as Macc are likely to be title contenders and the game will be a good gauge as the progress that Hoppers have made since securing the title last season. However, Saturday’s victory was a great boost and gives the squad plenty of confidence in the run up to next week’s big showdown.