Bradford & Bingley 17 – 26 Preston Grasshoppers

Date: 23 August 2011

Friday 19th August 2011

Hoppers put in a mixed performance that showed glimpses or real flair and promise but also highlighted some re-occurring problems that will need addressing before the season starts.
Against a spirited but inexperienced Bees side Hoppers started brightly and scored two quick tries or real quality. The home side kicked down the middle and Sean Taylor launched a counter attack and Tom Hughes and Phil Baines combined well down the left wing to put Dominic Moon over. Matt Hughes then got the first of his brace of tries finishing off a nice set piece move from a 5 metre scrum as Hoppers backs looked to cut the home defence open with ease,  Graham Holroyd converted both to give Hoppers a 14-0 lead.

Hoppers maintained the pressure with good breaks from Taylor and Tom Hughes and a few marauding runs from the back row but were unable to add to their lead and the final 20 minutes of the half were spent camped in their own 22 as the host enjoyed an extended spell of possession. Hoppers defended fiercely and didn’t allow any points but struggled to turn the ball over or clear their lines allowing waves of home pressure to build.

The second half started poorly for Hoppers as numerous penalties and sloppy play allowed the Bees to score two tries in ten minutes from the impressive replacement Brett Mitchell. First the Bees exploited the blindside to put Mitchell in at the corner and a quick tap minutes later set up a carbon copy try. Both conversions were missed leaving Hoppers with a slender lead.

Hoppers were able to extend this lead almost immediately as Russell Flynn powered through the line and showed a good turn of pace to stretch the defence before releasing Matt Hughes who showed pace and guile to grab his second, Holroyd again converted.

Oga Mabaya rounded off the scoring for Hoppers powering over from close range following a good move down the left wing, but Hoppers were again unable to claim the restart and this allowed Rob Balmforth to sneak in and score a third try for the Bees which was well converted by  Giles Hetherington.

So a lot to be positive about but a multitude of penalties and some simple errors will need to be iron out before Hoppers start on their National League Division Two North campaign.

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