Hoppers U14 35* Waterloo U14 5
Sunday 16th March.
Hoppers were back in action after the break last week for the analysis session. The lads were raring to get a match under their belt having qualifying for the semi finals of the Blacksticks Blue Lancashire Cup against Wigan in a couple of weeks. Despite the squad being somewhat depleted with County and School commitments, and several long term injuries, the strength of the Hoppers team was still apparent all over the field, and the coaches can now rely on great performances from everyone in the squad, with real competition for places in all of the positions.
Hoppers kicked off on a dry, but windy and cold day and Waterloo made a solid start fielding the kick and making good ground with a clearing kick. Hoppers, though, made and an excellent start with Lewis, playing flanker, taking the ball on a powerful run down the blind side on the left, only to be stopped from scoring by a great Waterloo tackle from their full back. Soon after we made our first score: having spun the ball though the backs in a couple of attacks, Ben broke in mid field and was just too strong for his opposition defender, running through to score. Excellent conversion from out wide by Tom N, who kicked brilliantly all day. 7-0 Hoppers.
Straight from the kick off, Hoppers scored again with a great move involving both the forwards and backs. Ross fielded the ball and ran back with pace and strength to deliver real ‘go forward’ and set up the next phase. The ball was then moved quickly down the bind side though another phase, with Tom then feeding Ben well on the open side, who held his opposite number up before releasing to Jake on the left wing. He was just too quick for his opposite number and having beat him on the outside, cut in to score under the posts. Tom converted again to make it 14-0.
Hoppers scored again from the Waterloo kick off, with Sam R fielding the kick and again running back strongly to set up the backs. After great continuity, the ball was moved left though the backs with Tom W powering though the defense from Full Back with a brilliant run to score under the posts. 21-0 with another conversion from Tom N. Hoppers were well in control now, but Waterloo were working very hard to get themselves back in contention. From the next kick off they defended well and kicked though, putting us under pressure before Jake cleaned up well and cleared the lines. Tom W had another great game at Full Back, clearing up well all day and running the ball back strongly to stop any Waterloo kicking attacks.
The problem for Waterloo was although they were competitive in the forwards and set scrums, the Hoppers’ backs were doing really well in defense. Their line speed and one on one tackling was excellent, and Adam R and Tom N did really well to defuse the Waterloo attacks around the fringes or when they were bringing the ball back inside on the angle: a tactic they used on several occasions. Hoppers scored again following such a Waterloo attack from their backs – Ben tackled hard and we won the ball at the breakdown before it was fed to Harvey on the right. He absolutely scorched down the right wing, breaking several tackles before being stopped by a committed Waterloo defense. The support was great through Nathan, who then ran the ball in under the posts. Tom converted yet again, 28-0.
Waterloo were not giving up though, and after a poor kick off, they did really well to take a scrum against the head and put Hoppers under pressure. Waterloo were threatening on occasions, but despite this Hoppers were trying to spin the ball wide whenever they could. The Hoppers’ forwards were working well now with strong performance from Adam M and James G in the ‘boiler room’ and the back row of Sam W, Lewis and Andrew keeping the pressure on Waterloo all day. A further try came after brilliant decision making from Adam R – the ball was cleared well through a Waterloo kick to their 10m line on our left: Adam got the ball and took a quick throw in to Jake, who then ran strongly through a disorganized defense to score under the posts. 33-0 conversion missed.
Waterloo showed great resolve to keep trying hard and although we continued to make some excellent breaks though the likes of Harvey and Ben, (Ben made also continued to make some awesome defensive tackles), Waterloo got the next score which was very well deserved. They kicked to clear their lines several times and eventually won a scrum outside our 22m line. They moved the ball to their blind side, where we had left a gap and, following several drives, managed to drive over to score. 33-5 conversion missed, end of the first half.
Waterloo kicked off the second half and the pattern was similar to the first, with Waterloo trying very hard but were not able to match the strength and pace of the Hoppers team. Soon after the kick off Hoppers added to their score with a great solo run from Sam W, who powered on to a pass in midfield and sped past the defensive cover to run 70m to score – standing up and beating the full back like a seasoned winger! Conversion missed, to make the score 38-5. Adam M ran the kick off back strongly to set up the next score: the ball was spun through the backs to the right and we then worked the phases back to the left, where Ben held the cover up to put Jake away again on the wing to outpace the full back and score his hat trick. Converted really well again by Tom N, to make the score 45-5.
Hoppers were now in complete control and Adam ran the ball back again strongly from the kick off, setting the ball back with great technique – top marks for paying attention to last week’s technical session! Waterloo, though, still were working hard and competing in the forwards particularly, but Hoppers added to the score though with Jake again, having gone though several phases in the backs ending with Waterloo just running out of defense. 52-5 conversion made by Tom N. Another great set of phases led to another score from Sam W, who when he got the ball in midfield was just too strong and pacey for the defense. 57- 5 with the conversion missed.
Hoppers were still having to work hard, and good tackling was needed to keep Waterloo at bay from Andrew, Nathan, Ben, Harvey and Tom N in particular, and the forwards were now dominating in the rucks and mauls, notably with some strong work by Ross in the lose. We added the final score of the day after another storming break by Sam W and great support from Jamie who ran in superbly to make the score 64-5 -Tom N making the final conversion with drop kick to round off a great kicking performance and all round game at 9.
A really strong performance by Hoppers against a Waterloo team who showed great attitude to keep their heads up and keep trying even in defeat, their coaches should be proud of them and the spirit in which the game was played – well done. Thanks also to the ref who had a great game. MoM could have gone to any of the Hoppers players, but contenders must have been Jake with four tries, Tom N for 14 points and a great all round performance and Ben with crunching tackles and excellent distribution from centre.