Hoppers hold off Tigers fightback

Hoppers played Sheffield Tigers
Hoppers played Sheffield Tigers
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Hoppers recorded back to back home wins as they held off a strong second half comeback by a Sheffield Tigers side that left Lightfoot Green with two bonus points.

The home side took the lead and built up an early 17-point lead which they never relinquished although they were pushed all the way and had to defend valiantly in the final minutes to secure the win

Head Coach Michael Lough said: “It’s definitely good to get the win and while we may have letthem back into the game, it’s all credit to Sheffield for the way they play. We probably let them score two tries too many but they are a very dangerous side.

“I was extremely impressed with our pack and the way they competed, we were again strong at the breakdown and that’s all down to the fitness of the lads, which we work on a lot and is something you need to have to compete at this level.

“I thought our lineout was excellent and Phil Mills was the standout player, not only did he hit all his throws but his kick chasing and work at the breakdown was excellent.

“Andy Napier was really good after impressing in the seconds and Will Keenan tackled hard all game as always.”

Hoppers built up their early lead with a tries from Andy Irving and Adam Birchall either side of a Sean Taylor penalty.

Irving powered over after a catch and drive when Hoppers kicked a penalty to touch and Birchall made a great interception inside his own half to sprint away and score, Birchall anticipated the pass perfectly as the Tigers looked to have an overlap on the outside.

Two Peter Swatkins’ tries brought the visitors right back into it as the full back showed his pace to leave Hoppers defence wanting, the full back took his chances well but the tackling was poor.

Taylor had added another penalty after the first try which meant the sides went in 20-12 at the break.

The second half would be a tense affair although Hoppers looked to have sealed it when Matt Hughes’ brilliant line fed Taylor for a converted try, Hughes took a sublime inside ball from Karl

Fitzpatrick to cut a great angle through the visitors defence, he offloaded well to Taylor who still had work to do but a brilliant step left the Sheffield winger on his heels and the full back raced in for the try.

Sheffield would score two quick tries to set up a frantic finish as Tom Outram found a huge gap by the posts and Broadley exploited a similar space minutes later.

Sheffield’s forwards sucked in the Hoppers defence with excellent driving line outs as Hoppers started to concede a few penalties late in the game.

However, in the final moments Hoppers defence held strong thanks to a couple of key turnovers, in particular by Chris Gale to secure the win.

Fylde enjoyed a narrow 25-21 win over Wharfedale at home.

Vale of Lune returned to winning ways in a gruelling encounter against Leigh to move back into fourth place in North One West but still seven points adrift of joint league leaders Sale and Liverpool St Helens.

They got off to perfect start by rattling in 17 points in the opening 10 minutes.

Skipper Darren Wilson, who was named man of the match, seized on a loose ball to scamper through the opposition for his try converted by Jimmy Moore after three minutes. Moore was instrumental in Vale’s next try three minutes later when he opened up play from behind his own posts. He swapped passes with Nick Royle before winger Royle sprinted imperiously 50m for an unconverted try.

Playing attacking rugby at a high tempo the Vale added to their total with a try from left wing James Hodder after debutant centre David Haigh had delivered the perfect pass.

After enduring a battering Leigh regrouped. An Elliott Ryan penalty and a soft looking try when scrum half Dave Wood slipped through a huge gap, his try being converted by Ryan, agve them hope.

From this point on Vale’s threat receded as Leigh, via their powerful forwards, exerted an iron grip on the game.

With the Vale struggling to recapture their earlier form Leigh drew level with eight minute remaining of the half with try from Calvin Crompton.Ryan converting.

Vale made a bright opening to the second 40 but Leigh’s defence proved equal to the task.

Moore kicked a penalty goal in the 56th minute after spell of concerted rugby but Leigh drew level with a Ryan penalty in the 61st minute.

Victory was secured for Vale when Moore kicked two penalty goals in the 75th and 82nd minute respectively to secure four hard earned league points.