Otley vs Preston Grasshoppers

Date: 02 March 2024

Otley 41-12 Preston Grasshoppers

Preston Grasshoppers were well beaten at Otley in a poor display away from home, with the hosts adapting better to the poor conditions (pictured above).

Ciaran O’Donnell gave Hoppers an early lead but a succession of tries from the hosts blew Preston away, with Harvey May’s late try no consolation in a match where they were second best throughout.

A point had separated the two teams before the match, but there was a clear difference in quality between the teams during the game.

Preston got off to a great start scoring the first try of the afternoon in four minutes, when O’Donnell displayed quick thinking to find space off the back of the maul and score.

It wasn’t long until Otley came up with a response, and just four minutes later Clark Wells made the most of a Hoppers knock on before finding plenty of space on the wing to run into to score the hosts first points of the day.

13 minutes in and Otley had taken the lead, when Ryan Gibson powered over from a rolling maul.

Otley fly half Edward Crossland had a poor game from the kicking tee, but was outstanding with ball in hand, and Hoppers were made to pay when he made one of many breaks, before offloading out to Alex Johnson who had the simple task of diving over.

The conditions continued to worsen, with Hoppers white kit beginning to match Otley’s black strip, both teams struggled to get any attack going, and the Yorkshire based side went into the break with a ten point lead at 17-7.

Preston were instantly on the back foot when they came back out, with Tyler Spence seeing yellow for a deliberate knock on.

Otley immediately made the most of their man advantage when Adam Malthouse scored from a powerful five-metre scrum.

Wells doubled his try tally when he managed to take down a cross field kick and score.

Samuel Taylor displayed why he is one of the most clinical backs in the National Two North when he used his pace to make a mazy run around the defenders from the right flank to under the posts.

Harvey May added Hoppers second in the 67th minute with a great finish into the corner, but any hopes for points in the match were long gone by this point.

Taylor added to the misery when he spectacularly took the ball in air, leaping over his defender, to bring his season total to 19, and keep him top of the try scoring charts.

Hoppers struggled with the heavy pitch, the conditions took its toll on the side who are used to the artificial pitch at Lightfoot Green.

Preston remain in 11th place, but have must win fixtures against fellow strugglers Huddersfield and Billingham coming up in the next two weeks, which could ultimately define how their season ends.

Report and photo by Tom Kelly

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