Preston Grasshoppers bagged their first win since November by defeating Otley 30-5 at Lightfoot Green.
The result ended a seven-game losing streak for Hoppers, and moved them off the bottom of National League Two North, swapping places with Sheffield Tigers into 15th place.
A jubilant Hoppers head-coach Garth Dew said: “What’s pleasing today is that I’ve picked 20 good lads, some of them true Hoppers making their debuts, and it meant a lot to them and created a good atmosphere. It was nice to see the scrum dominating today, that hasn’t happened in a long while.
“We defended the driving maul a lot better this week, and overall it was a much more mature and disciplined performance and I’m chuffed about that.
“We’ve given ourselves a fighting chance with this result and the win will do loads for our confidence.
“We’re off the bottom which gives us a massive psychological boost.”
Hoppers dominated the first half, with Lewis Allen kicking two early penalties to give the hosts a 6-0 advantage. Heavy rain made the new 4G playing surface incredibly slippy, resulting in plenty of knock-ons.
Hoppers scored their first try after 25 minutes. No.8 Matt Frings crashed over from the base of a scrum, with Allen adding the extras. Another penalty from Allen gave the hosts a 16-0 lead at half-time.
Otley then started the second period in much brighter fashion, spending the half’s opening 10 minutes camped inside Hoppers’22. But it was the hosts who scored next through Chris Roddy. The second-row touched down after a pick-and-go round the corner, and Allen converted to give Hoppers a 23-0 lead. With an hour played and Hoppers down to 14 men, Otley sensed they had an opportunity to get back into the game. But after withstanding the visitors’ pressure, Hoppers bagged the crucial next score.
Corey Logan scored Hoppers’ third try from a driving line-out, with Allen maintaining his 100% record from the tee.
Otley did have the final say when Luke Chadwick crashed over from a driving maul in the corner, but it was Hoppers who earned a vital victory.
Words by Henry Woodsford, photo by Mike Craig is of Man of the Match Matt Frings.