Hoppers were denied a memorable victory after a late Sedgley Park try took the spoils in a hotly contested derby.
They left with two bonus points, which will be more than most teams who visit Park Lane, but this was a case of small margins making big differences.
Hoppers put in a solid performance all around the park and were much improved over recent games but they were undone by a few small errors, missed tackles and simple mistakes.
Head Coach Garth Dew said; “It’s a massive disappointment not to win as this was a big improvement in performance and we thought we had done enough to win the game. We got our tactics right on the back of some hard truths and a lot of analysis in the week but some small errors like missing touch, feeding at the scrum and missed tackles cost us.”
“We are a young side and maybe the lack of an old head in tight situations would help but you can’t fault the application of the guys and there are a lot of positives to take away. We felt like we could take them on up front as even though they are a big pack they can get lazy at times, something we identified in our video analysis.”
“I thought Billy Woof did well on debut at 12 and once again Chris Taylor was outstanding and lead what is a very impressive back row with Jack Walker, Andy Napier and Will Lees. It was good to see Andy play with so much physicality as it was here that he suffered his nasty injury last season.”
“Moving forward we need to be pragmatic and build on performances like these and learn from them, I’m still learning as a coach and we’ll continue to improve.”
Hoppers started slowly and conceded the first try in the opening minutes as Ben Black touched down. The hosts dominated the early exchanges and when Jamie Harrison scored from close range midway through the half a repeat of the Ampthill score looked on the cards.
However a spirited fight back saw Reece Tomlinson score his first Hoppers try from a catch and drive and when Ally Murray gathered the restart it was soon a level game as Chris Taylor powered his way over.
Hoppers took the lead on the stroke of half time as Rich Morton got the third try after Woof put in a nice kick to put pressure on the home defence before a series of powerful set pieces laid the foundation, Lewis Allen converting all Hoppers scores.
Hoppers again started the second half on the back foot and allowed Callum McShane to score pretty much untouched to level the scores but again Hoppers responded well from the restart forcing a scrum which Taylor drove into the 22 before superb support from Will Lees saw him collect a difficult offload before stepping the full back for a fine score.
Hoppers were reduced to 14 men as John Embelton received a yellow card which was quickly followed by a Steve Collins try but Matt Riley missed the simple conversion. Sedgley were also reduced to 14 as Liam West was shown a red card for dangerous play and minutes later an Allen penalty extended the lead to five points.
Sedgley piled on the pressure and after butchering a chance out wide they won a scrum against the head, which could have been avoided if a simple advantage was played, allowing Juan Crous to power his way over for the game winning try.
Hoppers have back to back home games in the coming weeks with Birmingham Solihull making the trip North on the 18th before Leicester Lions travel to Lightfoot Green on the 25th October.
Sedgley Park 33-31 Preston Grasshoppers