Preston Grasshoppers 32-21 Sheffield Tigers
Lewis Allen kicked Preston Grasshoppers to their first win in three matches at Lightfoot Green. Allen’s boot yielded 22 of Hoppers’ 32 points as they came from behind against Sheffield Tigers to secure a vital victory.
Head coach Garth Dew reflected: “I thought we managed the game well today. We played well in wet conditions last year and today was very reminiscent of one of last season’s performances.
“We said before the game to not play in our own third, and with the first couple of scrums we tried to play out, we gave penalties away and they scored. Apart from that, and one defensive blip for their try, I thought we defended with a lot of tenacity throughout and the attitude was very good. We remained calm and grinded out the win which I’m very pleased about.”
With conditions at Lightfoot Green resembling a quagmire, errors crept into both teams’ play.
Three penalties from Angus Bowyer gave Tigers an early lead before a try from Henri Packard put the visitors further ahead.
Tigers exploited a poor Hoppers defensive line, and quick hands allowed Packard to dot down out wide to put the visitors 3-14 in front, with Bowyer missing the conversion.
It looked like Hoppers were in for a tough afternoon, but another Allen three-pointer was followed by a deserved try for hooker Phil Mills.
After Luke Proctor picked up from the base of a scrum, Mills bulldozed his way over the whitewash from a few meters out, with Allen adding the extras.
Hoppers were the better side in the game’s second-quarter, with some neat backs exchanges from Cam Robinson and Oli Viney nearly resulting in scores.
Allen then slotted a penalty in the half’s last play to give Hoppers a 16-14 lead.
The second-half was a much cagier affair, and it was only natural that both teams struggled to create any significant chances when both sets of packs tired.
Allen bagged three more penalties before Will Hunt secured the result, throwing a dummy pass and attacking the occupied space out wide to touch down, and the successful kick from Allen, eight from eight for the day, gave Hoppers a 32-14 cushion going into the game’s final stages.
Tigers had the last word when a penalty try was awarded for repeated collapsed scrums, but it was Hoppers who came away victorious.
Hoppers – Viney; Trueman, Forster, Allen, Robinson; Hunt, Harrison; Mabaya, Mills, Altham, Garrod, Roddy, Bramhall, Lees, Proctor.
Replacements – Beaty, Peterson, Murray, Frings, Yates.
Tigers – Swatkins; Kelly, Broadley, Wallace, Packard; Bowyer, Holmes; Gelsthorpe, Thornton, Simmons, Wragg, Holland, Monks, Calladine, Symcox.
Replacements – Wright, Bennett, Townsend, Pond, Aspinall.
Report by Henry Woodsford
Photo courtesy of Mike Craig