Hoppers’ second consecutive trip over the Pennines produced the same outcome – a last play loss in a game that they could and probably should have won. They completely dominated in the first half but failed again to close the game out.
The away side were quick to put the pressure on with some forward drives and some slick handling in the backs saw Conor Trueman tackled into touch just short of the line. But it was Otley who scored first against the run of play as a dropped ball was hacked through and Oli Goss touched down under the posts, Joe Rowntree converting.
Hoppers responded immediately with good hands and, after a break from Sam Stott, Luke Procter forced his way over but the kick failed.
Hoppers continued to attack and on 20 minutes Tom Davidson’s penalty put his side ahead and then Trueman again came close before P J Millea forced his way over in the corner to increase the lead.
On 34 minutes, Otley lost a man to the sin bin and Hoppers used the advantage as Oli Trippier touched down from a lineout maul and Davidson’s kick made it 20-7 at the break.
At the restart, Hoppers’ pack continued to dominate and when the ball was released excellent passing from the backs put Tueman in at last in the corner for the bonus point try to make it 25-7.
But again there followed a breakaway counter attack from Otley as a mix up in defence brought a try for winger Petchey and the kick was good. Hoppers then seemed to lose the initiative and five minutes later further poor tackling allowed full back Ben Magee in and Rowntree’s kick reduced the deficit to just 4 points.
Hoppers retaliated but squandered a clear overlap out wide after another break from Stott and rang the changes from the bench but forward drives were stoically defended.
The home side sensed an upset and grew in confidence as Hoppers attempted to hold out but a potentially relieving penalty failed to find touch and put Otley back on the attack, their pack camping on Hoppers’ goal-line as full time loomed.
Hoppers defended but at the expense of three yellow cards and deep into injury time, referee Richardson had had enough and awarded a penalty try.
Disappointed coach Paul Arnold expressed his frustration: “In the first half we performed as well as we have all season but it’s the third game on the bounce we have deserved more. We need to sort things out for the trip to Wharfedale next week.”
Otley 28-25 Preston Grasshoppers
Report by Ken Moore, Photo by Mike Craig