After the game, a philosophical Head Coach Garth Dew reflected: “The better side won today. We played some good attacking rugby at times but did not take our chances. Our set piece was good and John Mackenzie was a revelation at No.8 and the goal-line defence solid for most of the game. But we failed to match their intensity and lacked some penetration. We need to build on the positives and get a couple more wins to guarantee National 2 rugby next season.”
Hoppers were on the back foot from the start as the hosts’ strong running backs tested their defence culminating in powerful winger Devon Constant brushing off some tackles to score in the corner on 7 minutes.
The kick off saw Hoppers’ first foray into enemy territory and some neat handling threatened the home line before a break from influential No.10, John Boden, relieved the pressure. Hoppers managed to cope with a 5-metre scrum but, when the ball was released, the predatory Constant was in again after 24 minutes.
Some home indiscipline and a yellow card helped the away cause and Sean Taylor was able to reduce the arrears with a penalty. A second home player was sin-binned and Hoppers took advantage with a strong line-out drive and, when the ball was spread, hooker Christian Taylor popped up on the wing to score. His namesake could not convert but Hoppers were very much still in the hunt going in 10-8 down at the break.
Hoppers decision to eschew the long trek to the changing room and stay on the field seemed to work as they put the pressure on at the restart and Will Lees was stopped just short of the line but that man Boden again took control and his long pass saw Constant complete his hat-trick of tries and this time the conversion was good.
Both sides rang the changes from the bench and Hoppers gained a measure of control in the tight but more strong running and good hands saw Boden put winger Sam Benjamin in for the bonus point try before kicking a simple penalty to stretch the lead.
Despite enjoying some possession in the last quarter when Mackenzie came close, Hoppers failed to add to their score and a miserable afternoon concluded with an injury to Hoppers’ stalwart Sean Taylor.
Leicester Lions 25-8 Preston Grasshoppers