Head Coach Garth Dew and Director of Rugby Gareth Dyer
Preston Grasshoppers recorded their first win of the season with an impressive performance away at Otley.
After losing their opening game Hoppers needed to make a statement against their long-time rivals, who had an impressive opening day victory. Based around a solid set piece and a suffocating defence Hoppers never trailed in the game and were unfortunate not to leave with a try bonus point.
Head Coach Garth Dew was in a buoyant mood after the game saying; “we were outstanding today, we had a chance to really run away with the game but I can’t fault the guys who put in a great performance.”
“We identified that our defence has been strong all preseason, and last week, and each player made himself accountable and put his body on the line. We started well in the first half and we able to move the ball quickly and looked dangerous, but it was also good to see the composure of the players late in the game as the forwards and scrum half Sam Kindred controlled the breakdown and the clock.”
“It was nice to have Jack Ward back, he’s able to truck it up the middle off slow ball and put in some big hits, Lewis Allen had a good game and was involved in all of our tries and the pack must get a mention as the set piece was strong and we really went at them up front, they could be a real gem this season.”
Both teams started the match in a positive fashion with Otley camped on the Hoppers try line, a turnover got Hoppers out of trouble before another steal in midfield launched a swift counter attack with Allen playing a huge part setting up Lloyd Davies for a superb score.
Minutes later Kindred went over from close range following a scrum in the Otley 22, Chris Taylor did a great job at the base to negate a powerful home scrum and Kindred saw space around the breakdown after a couple of drives to score.
Otley would force their way back into the game before the break; James White rounded off a flowing move and Matt Heaton touched down after a well worked catch and drive to take the sides in 12-14.
The hosts started the second half well but Hoppers defence was resilient forcing multiple turnovers. They increased the lead when Phil Baines sliced his way through the midfield and while the captain was stopped short his centre partner Ward was on hand as Hoppers recycled the ball well and had numbers out wide.
An Allen penalty made it 12-24 and Hoppers had a number of opportunities to put the game away; they again turned the ball over with Otley close to the try line with Phil Mills leading a counter attack and Mills looked to be clear after an Otley mistake in midfield but was surprisingly called back for a scrum to Hoppers.
A late Otley surge led to another catch and drive try to bring them within a score. They ended the game with the ball in the Hopers 22, with the referee awarding a number of penalties to rile the visiting support but great defence caused a number of handling errors to secure the victory.
Looking forward Dew said; “we have a massive two weeks coming up with games against Broadstreet and Stockport, which we should be able to win, before a tough series of games that will test the squad. It’s important that we enjoy this result but also that it helps us prepare well for the upcoming matches.”
Otley 17-24 Preston Grasshoppers