Wharfedale 12-20 Preston Grasshoppers
Preston Grasshoppers got their season off to a great start with a 12-20 away win at Wharfedale.
Hoppers outscored their hosts, relegated from National League 1 last season, three tries to none on an impressive opening day victory.
Hoppers head-coach Garth Dew was delighted with his side’s performance: “I was quite confident despite nobody giving us a chance, and we knew they would struggle at scrum time and that proved to be the pivotal area of the game.”
“When I saw the weather forecast I knew it was going to be a wet day which would obviously make the scrum the deciding factor for both teams. It’s not always the most exciting thing to watch but it is very effective.”
“We also defended very well and it was nice to finish with a bit of flair at the end with Conor’s try.”
Dale had the better of the early exchanges, with fly-half Tom Barrett kicking a penalty.
It took Hoppers a while until they broke the deadlock, but after a period of sustained scrummage pressure, number eight Sam Gale crossed the whitewash. Lewis Allen failed to add a further two points.
Two minutes later Gale went close again, but a knock-on cost Hoppers a try scoring opportunity.
Dale then came back into the game thanks to a Barrett drop-goal, but Hoppers went into the break leading courtesy of an Allen penalty.
The second-half was a much tighter affair, with both side’s defences resolute. The game changed in the sixty-fifth minute when Dale prop Ian Larkin was yellow carded, forcing scrums to be uncontested.
Hoppers withstood Dale pressure and bagged their second try with ten minutes remaining, when Chris Taylor crashed over from a driving maul and Allen converted to give the visitors a three point cushion.
With only minutes remaining, Dale began to commit bodies in attack. However, it was Hoppers who secured the next score. Winger Conor Trueman scored a break away try, finishing off a rare but superb backs move.
Report by Henry Woodford, photo courtesy of John Burridge.