Preston Grasshoppers 5th XV 7-57 Aspull 2nd XV
Having been made to wait a week for their first match, a much-changed 5th XV started slowly against an Aspull 2nd XV that narrowly missed promotion last season. After conceding several soft scores early on, the forwards turned good field position into scoring opportunities with Jason Shadwell touching down at the base of the post after Jack Allen had his attempt held up. Aspull replied with several well-worked scores prior to half time despite a spirited defensive effort, with notable contributions from midfield pairing Tom Savage and Ryan Kirkpatrick.
The second half started promisingly for Grasshoppers with pressure straight from the kickoff. With Aspull’s forwards on the back foot at both scrum time and in the loose. As injuries built up and squad rotation disrupted the back line, the game became increasingly broken up. A strong break down the left by Ryan Fleming created a golden opportunity for another try, but white-line fever took hold and a slaloming run across the pitch, finishing with a hospital pass, earned Thomas Davies the coveted “dunce of the day” award. Despite a much improved defensive performance overall, momentary lapses allowed Aspull to add a veneer to the scoreline that highlighted the gap in experience between the two sides. The match ended 57-7 but with many making their first starts for Hoppers and all 23 of the squad playing with commitment and dedication, there were several positives to take into the forthcoming matches.
Joint Men of the match: Tom Savage and Ryan Kirkpatrick