STOURBRIDGE 32-38 PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS
Hoppers kept the momentum going after last week’s win over league leaders Hull Ionians with a hard-fought win at Stourbridge, on this occasion managing to close the game out.
Assistant Coach, Donny Sutherland, praised a good, smart team performance: “An important result today. Our first win on the road and first back-to-back wins this season. We were clinical when needed and, unlike earlier games, were very composed in the closing stages to secure the win. Discipline needs to improve but we dealt with yellow cards well.”
With the wind at their backs, Hoppers took the lead in the 13th minute when the ball was released from a lineout drive and quick hands put centre Sam Stott in, Tom Davidson converting.
But the lead did not last long when Davidson’s long kick went dead taking play back to a scrum on his own 22 and Hoppers were caught napping by a quick tap penalty which saw hooker Jack Lea touch down and the kick levelled the scores.
At the restart, the visitors were reduced to 14 men as Jack Edwards was binned but were the next to score as Matt Lamprey broke the line on half way and outpaced the defence to score at the posts and the kick was good.
No sooner were Hoppers restored to full strength than Luke Procter saw yellow and this time the hosts took advantage as prop George was driven over and the scores were tied again. But Hoppers again responded despite being a man down and good hands from Ally Murray, James Gough and Stott put Conor Trueman in and Davidson’s conversion put his side 21-14 up at the break.
Home kicker Rick Alley reduced the deficit with a penalty at the restart but with Procter back on the field, Trueman fielded a kick ahead and set up a counter attack and Matt Crow was in to stretch the lead to 9 points.
The game was now opening up and Stour replied in kind with a sweeping move with neat off-loads and a try for wing Harrison while, moments later, centre Heatley cut through from halfway and Aley’s kick gave his side the lead for the first time at 29-26.
It seemed as if Hoppers were again ‘to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory’ but they regrouped and some forward drives put Gough over and from the restart, Tyler Spence’s (pictured above) break and chip ahead produced a fine individual try.
Aley’s penalty secured a losing bonus point and put the hosts within one score at 32-38 but Hoppers held out despite a very harsh red card for a high tackle by Stott which appeared to be mistimed rather than malicious.
Report by Ken Moore, picture by Mike Craig