Preston Grasshoppers 20-39 Caldy
Preston Grasshoppers sunk to their third defeat in three games courtesy of a hat-trick of tries from Caldy’s Nick Royle. In contrast, this was the visitor’s third away win in a row as they continued their fine early season form.
Former Fylde winger Royle had his first score after just four minutes when John Broxson took a quick line-out, catching the Hoppers defence off guard. Broxson fed full-back Andrew Soutar, who then switched inside for Royle to touchdown.
Despite the windy conditions, Caldy’s backs were full of confidence and looked excellent with ball in hand, moving it quickly and offering plenty of options.
And it was a backs move which led to the game’s second try, when Jack Lavin stepped inside and popped the ball into Rhys Hayes path, with Lavin adding two more points from the boot to give the visitors a 15-0 lead.
Hoppers came back into the game in the second quarter, and started to gain more territory. The hosts were building up phases thanks to some excellent offloads and strong running. They bagged a deserved try when Sammy Russell broke the gain line to dot down after good work from Lewis Allen.
Caldy’s lead was reduced to three points right on the half-time whistle when Luke Proctor scored from a driving maul and Allen converted.
Hoppers head-coach Garth Dew was frustrated that his side only showed in glimpses what they are capable of: “I thought we were more direct today, we carried harder and showed better composure than we did last week against Chester. But in general we still made basic errors: getting turned over too easily, playing too much in the wrong areas, sloppy ball carrying and presentation. Towards the end of the first-half we looked quite dangerous, but in the second-half we lost our composure.”
“At half-time the changing room was buzzing and we were back in the game, but the key factor was when we made two mistakes Caldy went and scored two converted tries, but we didn’t put them under enough pressure when they made errors and that was the difference. The lads are disappointed with their performance but there’s a long way to go this season and we are showing what we’re capable of, but we need to start taking that into a full eighty and not just show it in twenty minute spells.”
Hoppers then started the second-half the same way they ended the first, with Allen slotting a penalty to level the game at 15-15.
But Caldy showed their ruthlessness by scoring two tries against the run of play.
Hoppers committed too many players to attacks and lost the ball in contact, allowing Lavin to kick into their empty twenty-two and Royle got on the end of a fortunate bounce to touch down under the sticks.
Two minutes later and Royle completed his hat-trick, exploiting gaps in the Hoppers defensive line to score wide, with Lavin converting and giving Caldy an unassailable 32-15 lead.
Hoppers set up a tense final ten minutes when Charles Hough bagged a try, running an excellent inside line from Billy Woof’s pop.
But the visitors had the final say when Levin scored a thoroughly deserved try of his own to keep up Caldy’s superb away form.
Hoppers: Viney; Zavallis-Roebuck, Russell, Woof, Hough; Allen, Moulding; Madden, Taylor, Altham, Roddy, Murray, Frings, Lees, Proctor.
Replacements: Beaty, Ambaya, Murphy, Hunt, Forster.
Caldy: Soutar; Royle, Edwards, Lavin, Banks; Hayes, Broxson; Parker, Hearn, Salisbury, Gerrard, Sanders, Crowe, Collister, Dickinson.
Replacements: Stagg, Concu, McGowan, Sellwood, Jones.
Report by Henry Woodsford, Photo courtesy of Mike Craig.