Wigan U14s 0 Hoppers U14s 30*
Blacksticks Blue Lancashire Cup Semi Final.
Spring had arrived with a sunny and warm day for the Blacksticks Blue Lancashire Cup Semi Final. The Wigan ground was in great condition for the running rugby that both sides like to play and the game was eagerly awaited by the supporters from both sides. Hoppers were able to field an almost full squad, just missing the long term injuries. Wigan, however reported several of their players missing, so it was always going to be a difficult ask.
Wigan kicked off and the ball was immediately returned with interest by Jack with a great run on the left hand side, just being stopped by a good Wigan tackle on their 10m line putting him into touch. Hoppers forwards were dominant all day and started well with Sam W winning the lineout against the throw in, to give clean ball to Adam R at scrum half. The backs were also dominant and a brilliant first try came as we moved the ball, and Kieran hit the line at speed from full back. He powered on an arc around the cover and, just as he was about to be tackled, offloaded out of the back of his hand to Harvey who was in a perfect supporting position to finish the move off, scoring under the posts. 7-0 as Kieran made the conversion.
Hoppers received the kick off via Sam W, who again made good metres and set the ball up well. Callum moved the ball quickly, as he did all day, to create space outside and set up another attack: Kieran timed a great short pass to put Duggie away who motored down the right wing outpacing the cover, just being caught by the pacey Wigan full back. Wigan won the ensuing maul, but ran the ball straight at Jack, who stopped him in his tracks and Hoppers’ forwards turned the ball over. More good work by Sam W gave us ‘go forward’ and after another quick ruck, Duggie fed Nathan on the right wing to score his first under the posts. 14-0 as Kieran converted.
Hoppers slightly went off the boil with a mistake from the kick off and Wigan backs had their first attack, stopped by a crunching tackle by Harvey on the Wigan 15 who had made a good break. The Hoppers forwards showed their dominance by winning the ruck and Duggie got the ball out to the backs, with Kieran firing a pass across the defence to put Jake away on the left wing. He made a clean break against his teammates from the Panthers RL, but was just caught by the Wigan 15, who had a busy day!Unfortunately, the ball went forward and Wigan got possession from the scum. They failed to make any ground and Harvey again secured the ball and made a piercing run, knocking much bigger players over.
Hoppers scored the next try after a good line out take by Sam W and with Tom W making a super decoy run on the inside line, the ball was fed to Harvey in mid field, who initially ran an arc on the outside and then sold a brilliant dummy to cut in to score under the posts. 21-0 with the conversion made again by Kieran.
Hoppers were rampant now and scored again from their kick off with another great move. Adam R fielded the ball deep in his half and moved the ball to Duggie, who broke clear and fed in turn to Kieran. He made great ground down the right side before being caught, and setting up the next phase. Quick ball was moved to Callum at outside half who popped up a great short ball to Duggie on the crash, who powered under the posts. 28-0 with the conversion made by Kieran.
Hoppers forwards were dominant in the line out and following a strong run by Lewis from the Wigan kick off where he was bundled into touch, we won the line out against the throw in, and Duggie powdered over the gain line. The ball was taken in mid-field by Jake and breaking tackles he set up another wonderful attack. The ball was initially taken on by Harry, before being fed to Tom W, who stormed down the right wing, the forwards quickly getting to the breakdown and wining the ruck. The ball was then switched quickly to the left through the backs to Duggie ‘lurking’ (having a rest?) on the left wing, who ran around the cover to score. 35-0 after a great conversion made by Kieran.
Wigan did not give up, despite the score line and following a good kick off and take by their forwards, they threatened the Hoppers’ line, only to be stopped by a great cover tackle. Hoppers’ dominance in the lineout told again as we won three more against the throw in and cleared our lines. Following a period of possession by Wigan, the pressure in defence led to a loose pass and Kieran anticipated brilliantly to intercept and run in the try, sidestepping the full back. 42-0 with another conversion from Kieran and the Cup game was ended.
A development game then was formed according to the Cup rules with Hoppers using all the squad by the end of the game. This started in similar fashion, with pressure on the Wigan backs and strong work by Duggie saw him run in his hat trick score under the posts. 7-0 in the development game with the conversion made to bring the first half to a close.
The second half started with a great kick off by Kieran, and pressure was immediately on Wigan. A super run on the left wing by Jamie, good work by the forwards and quick ball from Tom N at scum half put Duggie away in mid field to run past several Wigan tackles to score another try. 14-0 as Kieran made another conversion.
Wigan to their credit kept trying and after a great take from the kick off by Ethan, there was a series of strong tackles on Duggie, Jamie, Kieran, Jack and Callum to keep us out. Henry showed his growing strength at prop as we won against the head, with Duggie driving in from No8 for his 5th of the day. 19-0 conversion hitting the post from wide out. Duggie scored again with a carbon copy of the last try, as we were now dominant in the scrums, taking another against the head and Duggie powering over. 24-0, conversion missed.
Wave after wave of attacks now came from Hoppers, with very strong runs from Jack, Harry, Matty, Nathan and Tom W, and tenacious tackling from Ethan and the backline stopped any moves from Wigan. Wigan never stopped trying and held their own for a considerable period. Eventually, though, Hoppers scored again as a clearing kick was fielded by Nathan on the right wing, who then beat two players to dive in to score in the right hand corner. 29-0 conversion missed from wide out. After some frantic defence from Wigan and Henry nearly opening his account with Hoppers, another intercept try by Tom W finished the scoring. 36-0 in the development game, conversion made by Tom N.
A dominant display by Hoppers, but well done to Wigan lads for the spirit in which they played, never giving up despite the score line. Also, thanks to the Wigan club for their hospitality and the fair play of their crowd, who gave generous applause to some of the wonderful rugby from the Hoppers. Thanks also to the ref, who was anonymous – surely a great sign! Hoppers are now looking forward to the final at Fylde against our great rivals in a repeat of last season’s match that was as close as possible, with us winning on the drop goal ‘shoot out’.