Hoppers U13 39 Kirby Lonsdale U13s 5
After the disappointment of yet another match being called off last week at Fylde, and a lot of school fixtures off as well, everyone hoped that this match would be on. This was tempered by the cold and the heavy rain that greeted us, and the just about playable pitch that was nearly waterlogged. Some of the Kirby parents were greeted with snow when they arrived at their club! Despite this, there was a really good turn out of lads of about 25 with just a few injuries and lads non-available, meaning some ‘rotation’ would be in order to give everyone game time.
Hoppers kicked off, playing up the slight slope and it was obvious from the low kick off as the ball skidded along that the game was going to test the boys’ basic skills. The early exchanges were even with handling difficult, and Kirkby just about shading it in the set pieces. Hoppers’ very mobile pack, though, were putting themselves abound the pitch very well, particularly James G and Adam in the ‘engine room’ at second row.Good handling in the backs, with breaks by Teo at stand off and Jake playing at centre, meant that Hoppers looked dangerous and likely to break the deadlock. Owen had a storming game taking the ball up strongly all day, and following a powerful run and interchange with Alastair we nearly opened the score, just thwarted by good Kirkby defense. Eventually, the good play by Hoppers paid off and, after winning a penalty near their line, and a drive by the forwards, James G picked up quick ball to drive in under the posts. 5-0 with the conversion missed – it was never going to be a kicker’s day with a sodden ground making a firm standing leg nearly impossible.
The lads from both sides were doing really well in the terrible conditions, but there was always going to be a fair number of knock ons and missed passes. However, Hoppers still tried to keep to their running style and Teo distributed well from Stand off, and Matty C made a couple of great, jinking runs down our left hand side. Kirby were competing very well and keeping Hoppers at bay as they started to get an upper hand – Ollie who had a great game at scum half, nearly extended the score as he sniped around the blind side, just to be pushed into touch. Matty C had another attempt down the blind side but Kirkby kept us out again.
Kirkby were looking dangerous when they moved the ball through the backs, particularly down their left wing, with their left winger looking very tricky. One such break was stopped by a very good tackle by Andrew at full back as they outflanked us on our right wing. On other occasions really good covering tackles were put in by Matty S and James and Adam. The backs were also showing their commitment and this was exemplified by Jack A who dived really bravely on a loose ball, despite their back row piling through after our own scrum ball ‘squirted’ back in the difficult conditions. This stopped a really difficult situation forming for us in our half.
Kirkby continued to work hard and were still doing well in the tight scrums. Eventually their endeavour paid off as they made a break on our right, and their back ran really strongly though a couple of tackles to dive into the corner. 5-5 after their conversion was missed , though it was a really great effort from out wide. Half time came with the game still balanced.
The really heavy pitch meant the game was already taking a toll on some of the players, but Hoppers had the fortune to be able to make multiple substitutions at half time. Kirkby kicked off with Hoppers now playing down the slight slope, but true to form with the conditions the ball did not go 10 as it stuck in the mud. Hoppers showed their intent to attack though the back line with an immediate, incisive run by Harvey powering over the gain line. Shortly afterwards great work by the backs on our left brought the second try. After a good run by Teo the move was halted, but the forwards presented quick ball, well distributed by Ollie. Callum made the break in mid field, timing the pass around the back of their line to Jake who used his great pace to break on the outside left, before cutting in under the posts. 10-5 with the kick missed.
Hoppers were now starting to take control of the match. The third try came straight from their kick off with Ross trapping the ball well and feeding Owen who made another great run. When he was stopped on our right side around their 10m line, he offloaded out of the back of his hand to Sam M in support who outpaced the defense down the right wing. As he cut in to score under the posts he considered (I can mind read from 50m) an ‘Ashton’ swallow dive, but Coach Mike would have ‘disapproved’ so he was content with an ‘arm forward, slide in’ finish – very suitable to the water logged pitch. 15-5 to Hoppers.
Kirkby kept on trying and had more success attacking down our right, but we were defending strongly. Harvey, was making some very strong runs from fly half to help clear our lines. Often line out ball was difficult to control in the conditions and him getting over the gain line and beyond relieved the pressure on us several times. Hoppers extended their lead to 20-5 after a score by Harvey. Kirby’s big forward took the ball into contact from a penalty to them on half way, but Callum held him up to form a maul, and Hoppers got the turn over after ripping it clear. Harvey received the ball in mid field and ran straight and hard beating half the Kirby defense to score from 40m out.
Another good move by Hoppers saw Ross take the ball up strongly in mid field and the forwards win good ball in the ensuing ruck. This led to Hoppers extending the score after a try by Lewis who showed stunning pace to outflank their defense on our right. Props shouldn’t run that fast! And not for 40 metres. 25-5 and the conversion was made by Charlie, 27-5.
Hoppers were now in complete control and Jamie made another break in mid field outpacing the defense, but was just caught as he cut inside. Ross was there in support showing again the mobility of the Hoppers tight forwards, Sam M was then just stopped short of the line before Kirkby cleared their lines. Hoppers kept the pressure on Kirkby as they were pinned back on their line, the conditions making it hard to get clean ball and to get a meaningful kick away. Hoppers then extended their lead when Lewis took the ball at the front of the line out and stormed down the short side on our left to score his second try. Conversion missed 32-5.
Hoppers completed their scoring after a great run by James G, and good quick ball from the forwards, saw the ball moved to the right on the Kirkby 22. Owen took the ball in mid field, ran hard and straight and dived under the posts to make the score 37-5, converted by Charlie to make the score 39-5. Kirkby never gave up and had a period of great pressure on our right, seriously threatening our line. Owen again led from the front, taking on their big forward from a tap penalty and driving him back. The Final whistle came without any more score.
Given the terrible conditions, congratulations should be given to both sides on the standard of play. Also both sides were a credit to their clubs in their commitment and discipline and the spirit in which the game was played by all of the lads.