3v Midlands League
Hope Valley Hawks 66, Sleaford Spartans 22
HOPE Valley Hawks kept themselves in the hunt for a place in the end-of-season play-offs with a thumping win over Sleaford Spartans, avenging a last-minute defeat earlier in the season.
The visitors started well, retaining possession and forcing errors from the Hawks which brought them two early tries.
This only served to galvanise Hope Valley, who got back into the game when strong running from Hopkinson saw Conor Maskrey in support scoring out wide. Then a break by Warren set up Williams to score, with McGuigan converting to draw the Hawks level.
A wide passing move was finished off by Hopkinson, before more fluid passing moves saw skipper Shires exploit a gap to score through the middle. Once Warren converted, this gave the Hawks a 20-10 lead.
Good phases of Valley possession and driving from Spencer set-up McGuigan to dart through and score, again converted by Warren.
The Hawks made more yardage through Ben Maskrey and Rob Wells, with Hopkinson finishing off the move for his second try, giving Hawks a 30-10 lead at the break.
After the break, more strong running from Austin and Wells kept up the pressure, with replacement Mylnek making good ground.
Hopkinson continued to evade tackles, setting up Shires for his second score, while strong defence from Johnson and Williams kept Sleaford at bay, as yet more pressure in attack saw Wells scoring out wide.
Hopkinson jinked through for his hat-trick, diving over with a flourish, and another good handling move saw T Silcocks score out wide to make it 50-10 and bring up a half century of unanswered points.
Wells capitalised on a Sleaford error to score his second try, with McGuigan converting, before Sleaford restored some pride with two scores of their own, either side of a reply from Silcocks.
However Hopkinson had the final say, breaking through to make it 66-22 after McGuigan’s conversion.
l Ben Austin was named man of the match, with Ben Hopkinson’s Ashton-like finish getting him the champagne moment award.
l Following the match, Hope Valley Hawks held their inaugural Presentation Evening, sponsored by the Woodroffe Arms.
Dave Warren scooped both the player of the season and players’ player awards.
Skipper Adam Russell and team secretary Mike Shires were praised for a thrilling first season of rugby league, with thanks also going to Bernie Hunter for his excellent coaching, and to kit sponsors DLA Piper.