Bromsgrove 3 – 12 Preston Grasshoppers
Head Coach Michael Lough was delighted with this away win against a dogged and physical Bromsgrove side in a dour encounter on a heavy pitch at Finstall Park. “This was our best defensive display of the season in conditions that favoured their style of play. To restrict them to just one line-break in the 80 minutes was outstanding and once more the commitment from the whole 20-man squad was first rate.”
Hoppers started brightly, a turnover at a lineout setting up an attacking platform and Matt Hughes’ charge down of an attempted clearance was touched down by an alert Lewis Allen in the 5th minute.
Sean Taylor, who was wide with an earlier penalty, could not convert but neither could home kicker Mahony with two attempts after some sloppy discipline by Hoppers but he at last found the target on 29 minutes to put three points on the scoreboard after a rare attack saw a possible overlap squandered.
The last 10 minutes of the half were dominated by Hoppers and Phil Mill’s storming break, supported by Killian Wallace, petered out as possession was lost just short of the line. But the pack kept the pressure on being held up twice in in-goal and desperate defence saw home scrum half Brazier binned for not releasing on the stroke of halftime.
Hoppers’ failure to score from the sustained attack before the break suggested that they had missed their chance but straight from the restart, Andy Napier’s 40-metre run set up an attack and Craig Aikman, who had a solid game at the base of the scrum, took advantage of his opposite number’s absence to dart in at the posts and Taylor converted.
Hoppers continued to look the more likely, tightening up on the discipline and dominating possession with Mills, Gareth Gore and Dominic Moon again all prominent in the tight and Phil Baines asking questions in the backs.
As full time approached, Bromsgrove mounted a final surge in a desperate attempt to grab a losing bonus point but sterling defence again kept the line intact.