Plucky Burnage at least had the consolation of scoring the first try by visitors to Lightfoot Green in three games, following successive “whitewashes” there last month.
But it was still a fitting send-off for Hoppers head coach Paul Arnold, who leaves the club at the end of the season
“The lads have worked hard for me these last four years,” he said after an emotional on-field send-off to him and his family. “I think I am leaving them in a better place than when I came and it would be great to finish by winning the Lancashire Cup as well as promotion.
“It was a strange game today – a bit stop-start –- and I told them I didn’t think we’d played well in the first half, despite leading 54-5. But we scored some outstanding tries.
“They work hard for each other and the difference between the sides was that, when we made line breaks, Burnage seemed to give up, whereas when they made line breaks, we were always chasing back to stop them. I’m really proud of them this season.”
Hoppers took the lead after only two minutes, Toby Harrison scoring after Ben Dorrington’s break, and they added seven more before half-time, despite squandering one or two other chances.
Jacob Browne made identical interceptions in his own 22, to first race away for a try of his own and then send Tom Walker over. Harrison bagged his second (and 14th of the season), Matt Lamprey galloped over from the 22, Dorrington got two in three minutes and Sam Stott completed a first-half rout punctuated only by lock Kai Fagan’s unconverted try for the visitors after some slick handling.
Hoppers added two more in the first five minutes after the break, Lamprey taking his tally for the season to a league-leading 25 straight from the kick-off, swiftly followed by Stott’s second.
A bit of a lull followed, but Hoppers burst into life again in the last quarter, with tries for Rob Bramhall and Walker, before Stott, marking his 100th appearance, and Dorrington both completed their hat-tricks.
Ben Pearson quietly knocked over 10 conversions to take him over 170 points for the season, and Hoppers go into the final game at hapless Northwich in a fortnight, hoping that leaders Otley slip up at York to hand them the title.