The Longest Yard Was Almost Too Long
By Jack Foden
Tactical Genius makes a break through - Report by George Benson Junior
This week, young George Benson decided that he would be helpful this week and write the match report after claiming to be too injured to play for the third team away at Colne and Nelson. I don't really understand the title, tagline or the picture this week, but all George's ideas.
Game day. Anticipation was high for what people seemed to be a good and close match. They weren’t wrong. Straight from Hoppers kick off they were in Fleetwood’s faces but were met with equal levels of determination. Fleetwood kept ball alive well showing promising work from the forwards. However after several phrases from fleets attacking and gaining massive yards from hoppers defence, handling errors started to occur. However the silver lining was due to the immense pressure Fleetwood gave in defence, the errors occurred for the home team as well. That’s where it ended for the time being as for all these knock on, Fleetwood struggled to hand hoppers pack in the scrum. Hoppers capitalised from this by turning over a Fleetwood’s scrum and reacting quickly for an early converted try. 7-0.
Never fear when Foden is near. Mr tactical genius himself did some minor tinkering within the pack and it paid off. This woke Fleetwood up and as hoppers confidence grew it was short lived with new the formation battering them in the rest of the scrums to follow always driving them back and on occasions turning the ball over. This heated things up on the field as Fleetwood wanted revenge and sure enough they got it. Tackle after tackle seem against hoppers seem to take things out of them and Fleetwood won the ball back and making great yards and were awarded a penalty for a no wrap tackle. Scrum Half Pearce decide to take quick ball for being close to the line but stopped short. Great support from the forwards made sure that Skipper on Field Jacko crashed over for Fleetwoods try and converting his own try. 7-7
Yet hoppers were not done and from the restart met Fleetwood with high pressure causing the ball to be stolen straight the kick which caused Fleetwood to be unhappy and they showed it. No matter what hoppers did they could not break through Fleetwood’s iron wall defence. Emotions were high and they was no small tackles. Hit after hit no yards were lost as Fleetwood played like there was no tomorrow and was rewarded when a pentally was awarded for not realsesing. Due to hoppers being vocally upset this did not sit well and were pushed back 10m for back chatting to ref. Lineout was won. Disipline started to slip for both teams and the penalty count started to creep up. Due to Fleetwood being awarded another penalty due to crossing. Line out was won once again, due to some great play by the backs really shaking the defence up, nearly the full pitch was ran and with amor using quick feet was almost lucky but stopped short. However Greggy could not be stopped by a quick pick and go. Converted once again 7-14.
Hoppers didn’t give Fleetwood time to rest and were in their face quick from the restart and with handling errors caused turnover ball and were awarded a penalty form off the feet in the ruck. With taking it quick and vital tackles being missed, hoppers run in for a try, 12-14
Restart taken but offside was called and a scrum was given instead. With this little mistake Fleetwood made up for it by showing how tackling should be down. Causing hoppers to crack under pressure and stolen by fly half Macauley, causing the backs to show some promise play and resulting in Hall's try in the corner. 12-19
This lead did not last long due to some reason Fleetwood decided to take a small breather and slow down, leading to mistakes and miss tackles given hoppers chance to run under the post. 19-19.
With heads dropping close to halftime, hoppers were able to win the ball again due to Fleetwood visibly deflating and after several of desperate phases and mistakes by the green and gold hoppers were able to bag another try unconverted. 24-19
However Fleetwood were not ending the half led down and after serious knuckling down from restart, managed to grasp last minute magic starting with kicking maniac Howie trying his luck and paying off by going long and was met by the full back but didn’t have time to react as Fleetwood were already there to greet him, due to this pressure and a small mistake back row Ollie Fearn capitalised by scoring the try with loose ball. Coverted by jacko 24-26.
Half Time 24-26
Now tension was in the air, with both teams grasping for the win desperation started to creep in. Foden replaced wood giving a well-earned break and things started off with a bang. Hoppers started off the half by giving away several penalties that allowed Fleetwood to gain vital yards. With yet another penalty given to Fleetwood 30m out and close to touch, everyone looked for the line but Jacko thought different with the comment “I feel lucky”. He was not wrong with a huge kicked soaring over. 24-29.
However after this boost in moral, this did not help with the handling errors from both teams but the intensity did not drop. Big hits coming in from both teams trying everything to gain the extra yards and capatalise. However it was hoppers to break through and take advantage of errors being presented by fleet to score. 29-29.
After the team started to get frustrated and it showed with even more handling errors but not in tackling. Big hits by Fleetwood stopping hoppers by gaining serious yards but eventually by chipping away at the solid defence managed to score. However the away team did not seem best pleased with the decision calling no try but the refs call stood 36-29.
With a great restart by Macauley, Fleet were able to shift it up a gear with fresh legs coming and apply the force to the visibly relaxed hoppers side. This allowed some great play by Fleetwood's backs and kept the home side on their toes. Due to the backs doing what they do and running the yards, the forwards left out so decide to set up a rolling maul that made hoppers panic and give Fleetwood a penalty. Not taking any time Pearce with his quick thinking and quicker play took it and popped it of to back row Tom Greenwood who sailed over the game line. With Jacko understanding the pressure for this kick, sent it flying straight through 36-34.
Now time was ticking on with only several minutes left. Fleetwoods determination was unbelievable, they would not be satisfied with nothing other than a win and it showed. Tight, fast and flawless rugby was shown on the field. It was hoppers with the ball just crashing in to a fired up Fleetwood defence and nothing hoppers did was working. With energy levels dropping for the home side it was up to Fleetwood to play tactical and bring the pressure. With superb rucking by the forwards, Pearce was able to steal the ball and crash it in leaving the side with no nine at the ruck. Well we all sighed heavily when Howie kicking maniac decide to appear out of no where and stand in as 9, we all thought don’t kick please don’t kick but we were all wrong. Howie made a break and saw the gap and kicked it wide to ready and waiting winger Tom O'Hare who said thank you and good bye and used his pace to skip in for a try. 36-39.
Spectators were holding their breathe. Restart was taken and for the last time as the last minutes were ticking and tension was at breaking point. With hoppers seeming desperate trying to break through and yet again meeting with Fleetwood's defence, after several long phases they decide to risk everything and go for a long field kick to corner and chase but pressure from the defence was too much and the kick was met with touch.
Final score 36-39. Fleetwood Win.
Well done to Fleetwood not backing down and clawing back the win. Silly mistakes from both sides caused each team to capitalise, but the sheer determination and dominance with great forward control and back team play made sure that the away side brought home the win
Tries: Jackson; Gregson; Hall; Fearn; Greenwood; O'Hare.
In the end the game was played in the right way and Fleetwood got the result they deserved. Unfortunately Saturday was a day of mixed emotions though with the sad passing of team mate Callum Fyall. We would like to send our condolences to his family and friends and dedicate the win in his memory.
Man of Match
This week the award was a difficult one to give due to many of the lads putting in top class performances. George suggested a few including stand in skipper Mike Jackson and Ollie Fearn and Manager Chris Travis suggested James Amor. I am going to give the award to someone else though, Tom Greenwood. Tom has stepped up well to senior rugby and scored a classic greedy openside flanker try.
The Weekly Sam Pook Report
Missing games again, standard Pooky, probably still needs to work on his lineouts. Sort it out pal.
There is no second team game next week. The next game will be on the 23rd March away to Littleborough.
Squad: 15. Howe; 14. Hall; 13. Crompton; 12. Amor; 11. O'Hare; 10. Macauley; 9. Pearce; 1. Wood; 2. Heer; 3. O'Hara; 4. Gregson; 5. Rocks; 6. Fearn; 7. Greenwood; 8. Jackson; 16. Foden; 17. Newton; 18. Kirkbride.