Hope Valley 1sts 29 Marple 2nds 21
Hope Valley entertained Marple seconds in the first round of the Raging Bull Trophy, hoping to repeat their success in the first game of the season which finished 22-16.
The first half was evenly matched, with good attacking play from Hope loose forwards Wain and Hodgson. The Valley defensive line proved effective, with strong tackling from Rawson. Marple broke the deadlock, scoring a try following a rare missed tackle in the home back line, adding the conversion to go 0-7 up. Valley fought back with a good break from Spencer feeding Evans, and further forward pressure won a penalty, kicked by Spencer to reduce the deficit 3-7.
In swirling conditions Marple attacked again, and scored another try to increase their lead to 3-14. This galvanised Hope, with Somerton gaining ground with Evans in support. The Marple number eight was yellow carded following persistent infringements, and Somerton fed Evans who stretched over to score, with Spencer converting, 10-14 at the interval.
After the restart the Valley pack asserted their authority, driving Marple off the ball and unleashing a counter attack, with the ball passed down the line for Woodall to score in support to take the lead 15-14. Hope were in their stride now, with good attacks from the back row, and clever kicking from McGuigan keeping Marple on the back foot.
Good running from Wain and replacement Moseley set up Evans for another powerful run and his second try, converted by Spencer to open up the gap to 22-14.
Strong running from Holder again set up an attacking platform, but the momentum was halted by a yellow card to Moseley.
Marple attacked and were halted by crunching tackles from Hunter and Woodall, but the pressure mounted and Hunter became the third player to receive the yellow card. Valley defended strongly to repel Marple pressure, holding them up over the line and McGuigan kicked clear. A Marple clearance kick then found McGuigan with his back to the chasing players.
He followed up his own outrageous overhead kick, collecting the ball on the bounce and chipping through to score, with Spencer converting 29-14. Marple scored a consolation try down the wing, but the victory went to Hope Valley in a highly entertaining match, with the hard tackling Ryder man of the match.
Hope Valley 1sts have drawn Chester 3rds in the second round, and return to league action away to Bowdon 2nds on Saturday December 3.
The Hawks are at home to Oldham 4ths, 2.15pm at Castleton.