Lymm 46 – 22 Preston Grasshoppers
Preston Grasshoppers Head Coach Alex Keay was left furious after his side capitulated in a 46-22 defeat away to Lymm in freezing conditions.
Tries from Jake Rimmer, Sam Townsley, Alistair Murray and Jack Lightowler may have salvaged a four-score bonus point, but there were few positives to take from a disastrous display.
Lymm’s artificial pitch meant it was the only game in National Two that survived the cold snap, providing Hoppers with a chance to move up the table.
The hosts raced out of the blocks, with Ralph McEachran showing his pace to score in the right corner within the first minute, and Thomas Shard added a penalty shortly after to stretch their lead.
Hoppers seemed shell-shocked, and miscommunication at the scrum five meters from their own line allowed Shard to pounce on the loose ball to touch down unchallenged.
Rimmer restored some belief for the visitors with a try from a rolling maul after 17 minutes, but Lymm winger Nathan Beesley proved it was only a minor blip when he scored in the right corner to silence the Preston response.
Shard ran the game for the Cheshire outfit and had a second try before half-time to secure a bonus point to make it 29-5 at the interval.
An opportunistic finish in the 52nd minute by Townsley provided some hope that Hoppers could salvage something from the game, but Lymm were relentless, with Stephen Pilkington charging down Will Hunt’s clearance to score.
Murray added another try for the visitors as they chased a losing bonus point, but Preston’s defence was futile, symptomatic of some performances this season, which allowed Pilkington to steamroll his way to the line to score his second of the game.
Shard added another penalty on 73 minutes to take his points total to 26 for the afternoon, aided by Lymm’s outstanding scrum-half Callum Morris.
Preston got their bonus point try when Lightowler scored straight from the kick-off, which may prove vital towards the end of the campaign, but it was not enough for Keay, who did not hold back in his criticism of the performance.
He said: “We were terrible on every level.
“I cannot explain why we were so bad, but today was the worst I have seen since I came back.
And it’s not okay.”
Hoppers remain in ninth place but face a difficult challenge next weekend, with second-place Rotherham Titans visiting Lightfoot Green.
Report by Ben Pitkeathly, pictures by Mike Craig