Hoppers fell to defeat at Welford Road Ground as South Leicester’s big pack dominated a match played in difficult conditions with a strong wind affecting the game.
The cross wind meant the game was played heavily in one quarter of the pitch as both teams struggled to get out of the corner but South Leicester certainly knew these conditions and along with their big pack they had a very effective half back unit, in particular fly half Ricki Aley, who played a very simple but intelligent game plan.
Speaking after the game a disappointed director of rugby Alan Holmes said; “we made too many mistakes and didn’t convert our opportunities. It’s tough to say but we were out enthused along with being out-scrummed and it cost us as we had parity in the first half and then we had the wind in the second half but gave away penalties and possession.”
“It’s very frustrating as we defended well and got into some good areas but just couldn’t take our opportunities when presented with them. We were missing a few key players that could have made a difference but I‘m not going to fault the effort from the lads.”
“We are going to have to put in a big home performance next week against Harrogate and we’ll have a hard look at things during the week and press on as this is definitely a team capable of better performances.”
South Leicester controlled the majority of the game but things could have been different if Hoppers had capitalised on opportunities at the start of each half. They did well to charge down a clearance kick in the opening minutes and forced a 5m line-out, but after the drive was stopped, poor hands out wide halted any progress.
The hosts played the wind well and got their reward with the only points of the first half when Wesley Cope touched down a catch and drive. Hoppers defended manfully as South could have had a couple of tries but their backs handling did not match the forward power.
Hoppers had the first chance of the second half after Ryan Feeney stole a line-out on their own 10m line and a penalty allowed them to kick into the 22 but South resisted the catch and drive and won a penalty at the resulting scrum to clear their lines.
The hosts crossed the line midway through the second half when a 5m scrum was pushed over and scrum half Chris Gibbs had the easiest of tries and when they turned over Hoppers with ten minutes to go in their own half a swift counter, lead by Gibbs, put Gareth Kerr away in the corner. They had one more chance in the 22 but could get the try bonus point.
South Leicester 19-0 Preston Grasshoppers