Preston Grasshoppers vs Fylde

Date: 09 September 2023

Preston Grasshoppers 27 – 41 Fylde

Preston Grasshoppers suffered another derby day defeat, going down 27-41 to Fylde in front of a bumper crowd at a sunkissed Lightfoot Green.

Hoppers started the day in third place after an opening day bonus point 34-43 away win at Tynedale and hoped to continue that momentum against a Fylde side that drew against Sheffield Tigers last weekend.

The hosts matched the weather with a blistering start when Tyler Spence got them into the 22, collecting a clever cross kick, which allowed Jake Squirrell to set up Ed Keohane for the opening try.

Fylde’s response was quick and efficient, with Adam Lanigan profiting from a flowing backs move to score in the left corner; Gregory Smith’s conversion levelled the score.

Will Hunt slotted two penalties in seven minutes for the hosts, but the visitors took the lead for the first time through Thomas Forster, who made the most of some defensive confusion to find a gap in the Hoppers’ line.

The match turned into the Thomas Carleton show, who scored twice in four minutes, making the most of some lacklustre tackling to seal a bonus point for Fylde and stretch out the scoreline, quashing the host’s pre-match optimism.

But a piece of excellent individual skill from Jake Maher before the interval restored belief after he dummied through the visitor’s defence to score a stunning try, reducing the deficit to 20-28 at the break.

A slick attack saw Lanigan score his second of the game in the 46th minute, and Smith added a penalty midway through the second half to strengthen his side’s grip on proceedings.

Hoppers responded with ten minutes on the clock when Jack Lightowler raced down the left wing to give the hosts a chance of at least a losing bonus point.

Smith kicked a penalty in the 75th, and Fylde held firm to secure the victory, leaving Hoppers without a losing bonus point.

The defeat sees Hoppers slip to 8th with a challenging trip to Sheffield in store next weekend.

Preston Director of Rugby Alex Keay was disappointed in the ineffective defence in the first two games.

He said: “We’ve conceded eighty points in two games; you’re not going to win many games of rugby doing that.

“On the flip side, if you score 27, you should win a game of rugby.

“You can talk about all the other bits, did your line-out work, lose your scrum, and you can talk about our attack.

“There were some really good bits to our attack, but actually, there’s only one thing.

“You have to defend better.”

Report by Ben Pitkeathly, photos by Mike Craig

Fylde 9 Sept 2023

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