Sunday 22nd April – Hoppers Festival
Following the success in the Lancs Minis Festival final the previous week, Hoppers needed to pick themselves up again to perform to their potential in their own festival. The omens were not great at 9.30am when it was hailing! However, by the time of the kick off of the first match at 11.00am the sun had come out and the pitches were drying nicely.
Hoppers were in a group with Waterloo, Warrington, Southport and Vale and played them in that order. The second group had Fylde, Sefton, Fleetwood, Tarleton and Bury.
Hoppers 25 Waterloo 0
Hoppers started a little slowly, dropping the kick off by Waterloo and the early exchanges were quite equal and with some good defence from Harvey and Callum in repelling their initial possession. Hoppers needed further good defence from Andrew and Owen before they turned over possession and moved the ball to the left hand flank. The ball went though all the back line to put Jake away on the wing. He showed blistering pace to beat his winger on the outside and then ran the ball in for the first try from half way. 5-0 no conversions being taken at the Festival.
Andrew fielded well from the kicks off and from the next phase Hoppers spread the ball to Jake on the left wing and he ran in a carbon copy of the first try to make the score 10-0.
Hoppers were now in control and moving the ball well in the backs. Following a phase on the right hand side where Andrew nearly broke on the wing, Douggie mauled strongly and moved the ball left. Jake nearly made it for his hat trick, but instead switched the ball inside to Jamie who powered over for 15-0 at half time.
Hoppers kicked off the second half and were really dominating: they worked through several phases and the backs were running at the hard working Waterloo defence. Finally, the defence broke as Harvey dummied and straightened up powerfully to run in a try, despite the last ditch tap tackle from Waterloo. 20-0. There were further dangerous attacks by the backs and notable runs from Sam M and Callum and finally, following good work by Douggie, Harvey ran in his second try, 25-0 at the end of the match.
Hoppers 10 Warrington 0.
This was a much tighter affair, and there was high quality work from both sides in the early exchanges. Kieran made an excellent saving tackle on the left flank, and shortly afterwards gave Hoppers the lead (I think). The score was 5-0 as the half ended and the match was still finely balanced.
The second half started and Warrington were immediately on the attack. They had a very strong run and then recycled the ball and span it along their backline to their left exploiting an overlap. In a game changing moment, Kieran covered to Hoppers right, not only tackling but stripping the ball from their winger and running the length of the pitch to score Hopper’s second try. 10-0. This settled Hoppers down and they played some good attacking rugby, but to Warrington’s credit they defended well and there was no more scoring.
Hoppers 30 Ormskirk 0
Kieran took a smart short kick off, and Sam W dived to set up the ball well. After a strong ruck the ball was moved to Kieran on the left, who powered over to score. 5-0. Kieran then ran in his second try straight from the restart.10-0.
Ormskirk were already beaten and following good work on the wing by Aaron, Jamie, Kieran and Harvey were all involved in a good handing move with Harvey finishing off to make the score 15-0. Hoppers were spreading the ball wide at will and following good work by Aaron on the wing, and two more phases, Kieran broke the line to feed Teo, who went over to score the fourth try, 20-0.
The second half, with a much changed Hoppers team, was no more kinder for Ormskirk and following a brief period of pressure on Hoppers the forwards won a turnover and Ollie fed Harvey. Harvey again broke the line with a very strong direct run over the gain line and, Ormskirk fainting to hold him, put in a great second effort to run most of the length of the pitch to score. 25-0. There was further spirited play from Ormskirk, but the pressure of the backs defense forced a fumble and, following good work by Sam R, the was a stunning move in the backs to make the final score 30-0. The move involved Ollie B, Sam R, Kieran, Callum, Harvey and finally Kieran again to finish the move off.
Hoppers 20 Vale of Lune 0.
Hoppers kicked off for this vital final match of the group stage. The tie was well balanced in the early stages, with a couple of mistakes and penalties against us. We were also failing to penetrate the opposition back line as we had done in previous matches.
Hoppers finally got moving and put together several phases of attack. After good runs by Matty C, and Harvey , Hoppers pounded the Vale line. After Vale conceded a penalty close to the line, Kieran took the ball close in and powered over to score. 5-0.
Owen drove in from the kick off, and after good work from the forward, Douggie powered down the left side to score. 10-0. Hoppers were now dominating and could have added more scores with slicker handling, the half ended 10-0.
The second half was started by Vale, and hoppers continued with the excellent play. The ball went through several phases and eventually Jake used his pace to power down the left hand side. He was stopped just short of the line, and after getting quick ball from the ruck, the ball was fed to Harvey who jinked and drove through to score. 15-0. Hoppers continued to pressure Vale possession and eventually turned the ball over to feed Jake again to score 20-0.
Hoppers were now piling on the agony, and Kieran fielded from the kick off and set Jake away again. He was stopped, but the forwards were really dominating and recycled the ball with Owen dummying and going for the line. He was repelled again, but from the ensuing ruck the pressure told with Douggie going over to score. 25-0 and the end of the game.
Hoppers 20 Fleetwood 0.
Fleetwood kicked off and gained good field position. There followed a long period of play and following a good lineout win, Kieran put in a good clearing kick to put Fleetwood on the defensive. Fleetwood kicked back, but not as effectively and following good play by Jalke and Douggie the ball was fed to Kieran who went over for the first try. 5-0.
Hoppers started to get the advantage in the forwards and had lots of possession. From a line out in a dangerous area, Douggie took cleanly, peeled round the back and then straightened up. There was no stopping then’one man army’ and he powered over to score, 10-0. A good kick off put Hoppers on the defensive, but good work by the forwards pressuring their line out gained possession back for us. Half time came with no more score.
The second half was started by Hoppers and again they had the best of the possession. This soon told, and Kieran ran form the half way line to power over and make the score 15-0. Kieran and Douggie were now becoming increasingly influential, and following some good back moves Kieran ran in another and made the score 20-0 at the end of the match. Hoppers proceeded through to the final still not having conceded any points.
Hoppers 15 Fylde 0
Fylde were having an excellent tournament, showing that they are still a force in Lancashire despite their disappointing non-qualification for the Lancs finals day the previous week. They had a point to prove.
Fylde kicked of, but Kieran knocked the stuffing out of them straight away fielding the ball, and running the length of the pitch to score – awsome! 5-0. Fylde recovered to make the match very competitive, with excellent work coming from Harvey, Kieran and Jake. The second try came following a turnover by the forwards and brilliant back play. The ball went through several phases, involving Harvey, Jake, Kieran and Jamie. Eventually the ball got to Harvey who drew the last player to put Jake in to score. 10-0.
Hoppers extended the score after lots of pressure on the Fylde line and Harvey eventually got over following another great back move 15-0. Hoppers were really dominating now, but Fylde were still defending well and looked dangerous at times.
Hoppers were victorious, to take the trophy without conceding any point against in the tournament. Following the Lancs cup win and just the tour to come, everyone was feeling very pleased with themselves after a great season.