Preston Grasshoppers 51-17 Hinckley
It was long overdue, but Preston Grassgoppers finally gained their first win since the opening day, and their first at Lightfoot Green this season.
The thrashing of fellow strugglers Hinckley earned the hosts their first bonus-point victory courtesy of six converted tries, moving them out of the relegation places into 13th position, while Hinckley’s losing streak was extended to six games.
Hoppers Head-Coach Garth Dew said: “The most pleasing thing for me was our defensive line speed, and flooding through once we broke the gain line.”
“In training, we talked about winning the collision at the gain line and we did that today, and in defence we were a lot better too.”
“We kept our composure today and scored some nice tries and that came from us absorbing Hinckley’s forward pressure, and once the result was confirmed you saw the shackles come off and we showed what we can do.”
“This win should give the lads the confidence go to out and play the brand of rugby we work on in training.”
“We showed today how we are going to beat teams and we’ve just got to keep endeavouring to play like that every week.”
Back-row Luke Proctor bagged the host’s first try of the afternoon, his third in four matches, from a pick and go round the corner with no Hinckley guard in place.
Lewis Allen converted to give Hoppers an early 10-0 lead.
The visitors then came back into the contest as their forwards began to win more set pieces and piled pressure onto Hoppers’ defensive line.
With the hosts committing too many players to the breakdown, Hinckley saw the over load out wide and fed the ball to winger Callum Dacey.
Connor Eastgate converted, but another Allen penalty gave Hoppers a six point cushion.
Hinckley then took the lead after Wasps loanee Jacob Umaga scored a sensational try.
The England U20 international left Hoppers’ defenders tackling thin air as he stepped his way past four men to dot down under the sticks.
The host’s quickly regained their advantage when Olly Viney crossed the whitewash after a neat exchange with Cam Robinson, who made significant yards and offloaded to Viney, who was given the freedom of Preston to stroll in unopposed, with Allen’s boot giving Hoppers a deserved 20-14 lead at the break.
Viney rolled back the years to bag his second try, and his third in two matches shortly after the interval, running a neat inside line after good work from Conor Trueman.
The third-quarter was a tighter affair, with Allen and Eastgate exchanging penalties before Hoppers cut loose in the final 10 minutes.
Scrum-half Jack Harrison finished off an excellent Hoppers move, which started with tight-head Pete Altham throwing a Sonny Bill Williams esque offload to Trueman who found Viney, and when the former Fylde man couldn’t complete his hat-trick, he offloaded to the onrushing Harrison.
Billy Woof then got in on the act, supporting Sam Gale and Will Lees who made strong carries.
Lock Chris Roddy completed the rout late on, leaving Allen, who only missed one penalty all day, to add the extras.
Hoppers – Viney; Trueman, Crosley, Woof, Robinson; Allen, Harrison; Peterson, Mills, Altham, Garrod, A. Murray, Gale, Lees, Proctor.
Replacements – Taylor, Mabaya, Roddy, Hunt, M. Murray.
Hinckley – Culpin; Dacey, Lamb, Umaga, Hilyer; Eastgate, Glover; Harvey, Coltman, Peck, Marshall, Deaville, Fearn, Avent, Salt.
Replacements – Bartlett, Tanner, Ehizode, Lord, Murray.
Report by Henry Woodsford