A late try from Harry Moulding and twenty points from the boot of Sean Taylor saw Hoppers secure a stunning win at Stourbridge.
Head Coach Garth Dew had spoken during the week about positivity, belief and team spirit and the players certainly took that on board to keep playing for 80 minutes, never giving up and taking their chances when available.
After the game Dew said; “I’m over the moon, we asked some difficult questions during the week and did some soul searching after a tough loss and it’s great to see the lads turn it around.”
“I was really pleased with the game management, especially from Tom Hurst who had to come off the bench early at fly-half and was really composed. Again Harry Moulding had a great game and took his chance well and I do believe that by the end of the season he’ll be thought of as one of the best scrum half’s in the league.”
“I was impressed with the forwards as we were playing against a big pack and they stuck to their task and got in their faces all day and never took a backward step. Oga Mabaya and Danny Madden were great, Danny Burns made a big contribution on debut and it was nice to see Alan Holmes get on and use his experience to help us win the penalty at the end.”
Hoppers started well and were six points to the good inside ten minutes as Taylor landed two penalties in a match that heavily featured the referee’s whistle. Stefan Thorp crossed for Stourbridge midway through the half after a couple of set pieces near the Hoppers line and the loose head powered his way over from short range. Chris Scott missed the conversion but added a penalty just after Taylor had landed his third as the full back was punishing the home side’s mistakes.
The momentum switched when Reece Tomlinson was sin binned, one of four yellow cards shown, and just before the break Hoppers were shoved off a scrum in their own 22 and scrum-half Toby Handley snuck over to give the hosts a 13-9 lead.
The second half was a tense affair with the kickers dominating the scoring as both Scott and Taylor landed three penalties but Hoppers never fell more than a score adrift and finished stronger. They had a man advantage for the final ten minutes and kicked a penalty to touch to set up a nice line-out on the 22 before Moulding saw a bit of space to break two tackles and round the full back for a superb score.
Stourbridge had a chance to tie the game but also elected to kick to touch in the final minute and Hoppers repelled a 5m line-out before winning a penalty at the scrum against the head to seal victory.
Dew added; “It was a difficult start to the season with four tough opponents but we should have won two of those games and maybe got more from the others. Moving forward there is nothing easy but we are now in a run of games that we will certainly be looking to win.”
Strourbridge 22-25 Preston Grasshoppers
Photo courtesy of Mike Craig – Harrison Moulding in action at home against Caldy