Hoppers fell to their third successive defeat as Luctonians climbed out of the bottom three with a bonus point win at Lightfoot Green.
Hoppers played well in patches and deserved the half time lead but they fell back into the early season trap of over playing situations and making silly mistakes and mental errors.
There were positives to take from the game as once again the pack went well, in particular the scrum, against a big opposition and when the backs did click Scott Jordan and Lewis Allen looked capable of unlocking defences and causing problems to any side.
After the game Garth Dew said; “that reminded me of last season as there were some nice touches but a lack of game management, we had been playing in the right areas this season but at times that was embarrassing.”
“When we played to our game plan, especially in the second quarter, we did well but we put ourselves under pressure too many times. Poor kicking, poor kick chase and a lot of silly errors really cost us; we had scrum dominance but got nothing from that as we made poor decisions after marching them back 20m.”
“We were playing well in poorer conditions not because we were playing negative rugby but because we were playing smart, playing in the right areas and putting pressure on the opposition. Today we were trying to play five phases just 30m from our line.”
Hoppers did not start well and Luctonians took an early lead as Josh Watkins exposed some poor tackling to canter in from his own half. Louis Silver got the conversion and a penalty soon after to make it a ten point lead before Hopper had really settled into the game.
However, a good break from Scott Jordan lead to a Hoppers penalty from Lewis Allen and it was Jordan’s quick thinking, taking a quick tap 5m from the line, which levelled the scores following a good team move that which Will Lees had driven to the line and was only stopped by a deliberate knock on.
Silver landed a penalty to restore the visitors lead before Hoppers got themselves in front as the forwards got a grip on the game. A nice scrum on halfway gained a few yards before some slick passing put Allen into space and the fullback rounded his opposite number for a superb score. He missed the conversion from the touchline but hit a penalty before the break to give Hoppers an 18-13 lead.
Luctonians came out in the second half in the same way as they did in the first and Hoppers were again on the back foot when Will Burton went over in the corner after kicking through a ball that squirted out of a ruck.
Allen and Silver traded penalties and Hoppers could have had a third try when Jordan came close to intercepting a shocking pass on halfway but just couldn’t hang on.
It was a tight affair going into the final ten minutes but Luctonians pulled away with two late tries as Watkins got his second, going over in the corner from a lovely long pass, before fellow wing Joe Doyle shrugged off some poor tackling for the fourth try and the bonus point.
Hoppers did manage to get something out of the game as Allen landed his fourth penalty just before the end to give Hoppers a losing bonus point.
Dew added; “There will have to be a lot of honesty in midweek and individuals will have to be accountable, that unbeaten run seems a long time ago now and it doesn’t get any easier with Macclesfield coming here but what better way to get over this slump than to beat the league leaders.”
Preston Grasshoppers 24-31 Luctonians