Games against Preston Grasshoppers 2s are always feisty affairs, often with friendships being placed on hold as players cross the white onto the pitch. To add to the event, a monsoon hit Lightfoot Green during the warm ups and throughout the match. The benefit of the AGP was soon apparent and we didn’t have to play on flooded, muddy pitch.
There was another game being held at Lightfoot Green later that afternoon! So the Hawks v Hoppers KO’d at 12noon.
The Hawks started the 1st half by receiving the ball from the kick off and after some initial good play by the forwards near the half way line, Ashcroft off loaded the ball to Torkington who broke through the Hoppers defence and reached their 22 before knocking it on. The result was a Hoppers scrum, which they won; however, the their No 8 spilt the ball on their 22. This was a positive start. Five minutes in and Whitehead took a massive hit but, despite the impact, retained the ball.
On six minutes Fylde were awarded a penalty which Pearson kicked for a line out on the Hawks left hand side. Despite the ball eventually being lost to Hoppers, who subsequently kicked it to Hawks left winger Evans who broke through several Hoppers tackles. Some fine ball retention by the forwards and excellent passing by the backs enabled Whitehead to crash through the Hoppers defence under the posts. Pearson successfully converted. Score 0 – 7.
In the next five minutes, the Hoppers built up some attacking play and were lodged in the Hawks 22, before an excellent kick through allowed their right winger to apply pressure to the ball in the Hawks try zone. The conversion was unsuccessful. Score 5 – 7
On 16 minutes a handling error allowed Hoppers into the Hawks 22 but the visitors defended resolutely for four minutes before winning a penalty and opting for a scrum. The scrum was won and Pearson kicked for territory, with Fisher and Foster in hot pursuit. This applied pressure to the Hoppers back three; however, the monsoon weather conditions led to the Hawks spilling the ball and a Hoppers clearing kick was sent into the Hawks half. After 27 minutes, a penalty was awarded to Hoppers and it was successfully kicked. Score 8 – 7
On 29 minutes, Capstick was replaced by Smith. From the 31st minute, Hoppers spent most of the time in the Hawks 22, with the Hawks proving to be rock solid in defence. In the 32nd minute, Clitheroe was yellow carded for a high tackle. The remainder of the half saw Hoppers pushing and probing the Hawks defence without any reward. In the 39th minute, Hoppers No 4 was in turn yellow carded.
Half Time: Hoppers 8 – 7 Fylde Hawks.
The Hawks kicked off the 2nd half and, after some excellent pressure and positional play, Pattison scored a try on the Hawks left hand side. Score 8 – 12. In the 45th minute, Clitheroe re-joined the game and clearly felt he had to make up for the 10 minutes’ rest he had!
In the 48th minute, the Hawks pushed the Hoppers scrum back at least five metres. The game then became frantic as both sides worked hard to dominate in attack and be solid in defence. In the 56th minute, the Hawks were camped on the Hoppers five metre line and opted for a scrum. A penalty was awarded to the Hawks, and a quick tap and go resulted in Clitheroe crashing over the white line. Score 8 – 17
The Hawks now started to dominate and in the 65th minute were awarded a penalty. Pearson was successful. Score 8 – 20.
The remaining 15 minutes saw the Hawks manage the game successfully and whilst there was a lot of handling errors by both sides in the monsoon weather, it was clear that the Hawks had control in both attack and defence. In the 70th minute, the Hoppers No 1 threw a punch at Steer and was correctly yellow carded. Hoppers were keen to end the game on a high, tried a cheeky kick and chase which almost resulted in a try. However, Evans was able to retain the ball and the final whistle blew.
Final Score: Hoppers 8 – 20 Fylde Hawks.
Games between these teams are always hotly contested and often bitterly combative; however, the weather made the contest more difficult and I’m sure both teams would have been frustrated with the number of handling errors during the game. This was an excellent game of rugby, played in the right spirit and demonstrated the talent both clubs have coming through their ranks.
The next contest between the two squads is on the 22nd December at the Woodlands. Make a note in your calendar – it’s guaranteed to be entertaining.
The result means that the Hawks are now placed 2nd in the Premier League and face a tough away challenge against newly promoted Lymm 2’s on the 15th September.
Matthew Ashcroft, Blake Wilkinson, Jonathan James Wild, Karl Capstick, Jamie Griffin, Tom Steer, Luke Clitheroe, James Torkington (C), Adam Lanigan, Henry Pearson, Ryan Evans, Brett Whitehead, Lewis Pattison, Jake Foster, Sam Fisher, Oliver Parkinson, Seb Smith, Kyle Macaulay.
Ian Pearson (Team Manager), Dan Orwin (Head Coach), Karen Swarbrick (Physio), Craig Whalley-Hunter (Video)