This proved to be the proverbial game of two halves with Hoppers coming back from what looked like an irretrievable deficit at half time.
Relieved coach Paul Arnold said: “Today was all about the spirit of this side. It goes back to games like the first fixture of the season at Sandal where we won the game with the last play – despite the adversity, we still had belief. Some ‘strong words’ were needed after a poor first half but the players responded brilliantly, it was a champions’ performance.”
Hoppers, playing uphill and into a strong breeze, were first to attack and Matt Lamprey picked up from a 5-metre scrum for a trademark touchdown as early as the 4th minute but the kick failed. Lymm responded immediately using turnover ball to gain ground and kicker Scott Redfern reduced the arrears to 3-5 with a penalty.
A forward pass and a crossing offence denied Hoppers further scores and then a disastrous few minutes followed when poor handling and missed tackles saw the hosts run in three tries through some incisive backs’ play through full back Denham and wings Sutherland and Richards and two conversions gave Lymm a 22-5 lead.
Tit for tat then followed as James Fitzpatrick charged down an attempted clearance to score under the posts, Jake Squirrell converting, but then Redfern returned the complement and added the extras to give his side a healthy 29-12 lead at the break.
Hoppers were well on top in the tight and at the restart a long run from Lamprey gained field position but the move broke down and Scott Jordan ended up in the bin. Undeterred, a short offload from Alex Ward to Fitzpatrick allowed the centre to break the defence to score at the posts and the kick was good.
The visitors used the conditions to kick for field position and on 57 minutes Lamprey was in for his second from a 5-metre lineout and Squirrell’s conversion reduced the deficit to just 3 points at 29-26 and his penalty 4 minutes later tied the scores.
Arnold, coming off the bench at half time, was having a significant effect in the loose and his 40-metre break was inevitably finished off by Lamprey for his hat-trick. The kick was good and Squirrell added a further penalty to stretch the lead to 39-29 before a last play penalty from Redfern salvaged a losing bonus point.