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Hopley: Youngsters will benefit from 'A' League final experience

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Senior Academy coach Mark Hopley says that the club's youngsters will benefit from the experience of playing in an Aviva 'A' League final.

The first half at Sandy Park yesterday afternoon saw the two teams exchange tries, with Exeter Braves taking a 24-20 lead into the break. Tom Collins put the Wanderers in front soon after half-time but then it was all Exeter, who showed their power in racking up 31 unanswered points to finish 55-25 winners.

Despite the loss, Hopley says his side were pleased with their performance against an experienced Exeter outfit: “We were pleased with how we played although a few things didn’t quite go our way in the second half but all credit to Exeter.

“They were a very experienced team compared to us who are relatively young and they thoroughly deserved the win at the end of the day.”

With the match finely balanced at 24-20 to Exeter, Tom Collins scored a superb try to nudge the Wanderers back in front. Exeter then scored 31 unanswered points, however, and Hopley believes it was the Exeter pack that made the difference: “I think in that second half we were under the cosh up front in the scrum and in the maul.

“That was probably the difference between the two sides. We just gave ourselves a bit too much to do.”

Although the result didn’t go the Wanderers’ way, Hopley thinks that the opportunity for the players to play in front of so many people can only be beneficial in terms of their development: “It’s fantastic for them to play in front of 5,000 people, and all credit to our fans who made the trip down. I think there’s a few coach loads and we could hear them; that support is massive. 

“We will get better having played this game and we will learn our lesson. Hopefully we will come back stronger next year.”