Hinckley 29 – 22 Preston Grasshoppers
Hoppers started brightly against a side that they had beaten comfortably at Lightfoot Green earlier in the season and, after early pressure, took the lead via a Lewis Allen penalty. But Hinckley had obviously strengthened their squad since the first encounter, demonstrated by some strong forward drives on a sticky surface.
Hoppers new signing Ryan Glynn showed his class in a searing break from a scrum on half way and his deft chip over the defence was collected by Conor Trueman who made ground before handing on to Sam Gale for the touchdown and Hoppers were 8 points to the good after 14 minutes.
The home side then dominated possession and Hoppers began to infringe in defence leading to a penalty from Connor Bullivant. Minutes later, with defence overstretched only a knocked-on scoring pass stopped a try but a second opportunity saw Bullivant in at the corner and his conversion put is side two points ahead.
Hoppers were still in touch but conceded a crucial score on the cusp of half time as the home pack drove over to give Hinckley a 15-8 advantage at the break.
Hoppers again started well but failed to capitalise as a 5-metre lineout malfunctioned and some handling errors spoiled some attacking possession. Hinckley relieved the pressure with telling results as Ally Murray was shown aa yellow card. The home pack took immediate advantage as No.6 Ben Avent finished off a driving maul for a converted try.
Worse was to come for the visitors as Sam Gale joined Murray in the sin bin resulting in an inevitable push over try and the kick stretched the lead to 29-8. Things looked bleak for Hoppers and they rang the changes from the bench. Some strong surges from replacement Corey Logan set up an attacking position and Jack Akrigg finished off a resulting backs move.
Ally Murray then caught the defence napping from a lineout to touchdown and Allen’s nerveless conversion from the touchline achieved an unlikely losing bonus.
Coach Garth Dew summed up: “It was a disappointing first half with poor discipline and ball retention and we struggled throughout against a much bigger pack. But the bench did well and we showed good spirit in coming back to gain what could be an important bonus point.”
Words by Ken Moore.