Preston Grasshoppers 22-33 Sedgley Park
Preston Grasshoppers lost their first game at Lightfoot Green against a strong Sedgley Park outfit. Park showed why they are favourites for promotion in a devastating ten minute spell which saw them bag three converted tries to take the game beyond Hoppers’ reach.
Despite having more territory in the opening twenty minutes, Hoppers fell behind when Matt Riley crossed the whitewash after breaking Hoppers’ defensive line to score under the sticks.
Just one minute later Sam Lowthion scored after coming onto Thomas Bedlow’s pop pass at pace to put Sedgley fourteen points ahead.
To compound Hoppers’ poor first-half, a penalty try was awarded which Stephen Collins once again converted, and Hoppers back-row Robert Bramhall received a yellow card for collapsing a maul.
Hoppers head-coach Garth Dew was disappointed with his side’s first-half performance after last week’s impressive victory at Wharfedale:
“We made three mistakes which they scored from, and this came from us trying to play them at their game. We were running directly into their big units who were holding us up and making a mess of the breakdown, and that was where the game got away from us.”
“The last twenty minutes we played the way we’d been training all summer – playing a fun, offloading game when Sedgley were getting tired. But giving away needless penalties and conceding tries from driving mauls cost us today.”
“It’s easy to focus on negatives, but if we focus on that excellent last twenty minutes and take it into the Chester game next week then a lot of teams in this league will struggle against us.”
Hoppers played better rugby in the second-half with Lewis Allen slotting an early penalty, but Sedgley once again showed their ruthlessness.
Andrew Riley touched down out wide and Johnathan Matthews then scored from a driving maul to give the visitors a thirty point advantage.
A late rally from Hoppers showed what they are capable of, with Sam Gale bagging two tries.
The best try of the day was sandwiched between Gale’s efforts, when Allen finished off an excellent Hoppers offloading move. But it proved to be too little too late from the home side.
Hoppers – Viney; Trueman, Crosley, Woof, Hough; Allen, Moulding; Madden, Mills, Altham, Roddy, Murray, Bramhall, Lees, Gale.
Replacements – Beaty, Mabaya, Proctor, Russell, Zavallis-Roebuck.
Sedgley Park – Wainwright; Riley. A, Bedlow, Riley. M, Lowthion; Collins, McShane; Ashcroft, Matthews, Black, Lloyd, Needham, Powell, Skofic, Crous.
Replacements – Greville, Wilson, Grigaitis, Urmston, Harrison.
Report by Henry Woodsford