Otley 28-15 Preston Grasshoppers
Hopper travelled across the Pennines to Otley with high hopes after a win against Sheffield Tigers last time out. With an hour on the clock, the score at 18-15 to Otley, and the Otley tight head in the sin bin it looked like Hoppers were well placed to go on and take the win. Unfortunately, Otley had other ideas.
Otley, playing with the wind in the first half, started brightly and were soon ahead through wing Blake Morgan followed by a penalty by Eddie Crossland to leave Hoppers trailing 8-0 and looking at a long afternoon.
This seemed to snap Hoppers into gear and Josh Rourke intercepted in midfield to streak away and get Hoppers on the board. Ben Pearson converted to leave Hoppers trailing 8-7. A good spell from Hoppers led to another kickable opportunity which Pearson took to give the Preston men an 8-10 lead with half-time approaching.
Otley then scored against the run of play after some fine work by full back Charlie Morgan whose line break and pass put Number 8 Charlie Morgan in at the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful, but Otley had a 13-10 lead going into half-time. Hoppers were well positioned at this point having played into a strong wind first half yet having long spells of possession in the Otley half.
Hoppers started the second half on the front foot but could not turn this into points with Pearson missing a kickable penalty off the tee. Otley centre Clark Wells then took matters into his own hands. Wells was impressive throughout the afternoon and exemplified this with a 40m run which took him over the line and, although unconverted, the Yorkshire side now held an 18-10 lead.
Now came what could have been the key point in the game. Sustained pressure from Hoppers led to a try for hooker Harry Thompson as well as a yellow card for the Otley number 3. With 20 minutes on the clock, an extra man, and the score at 18-15, Hoppers were perfectly positioned to go looking for the win.
Otley clearly hadn’t read the script and some over playing by Hoppers in their own half combined with poor tackling gave Otley 2 further scores through Sam Hodge and Clark Wells to take the game away from the Lancashire men.
Hoppers will be frustrated at getting so close only for the game to slip away. Hoppers host Chester next week and will be looking for a 3rd win of the season.
Photos courtesy of Mike Inky who was taking pictures for the Rugby Paper and has allowed us to use them here. Thanks Mike.