Tynedale 31 – 29 Preston Grasshoppers
After their victory at home last week, Hoppers travelled north east to Tynedale aiming to build a winning run and from the start it looked as though they had finally put the frustrating losses of the early season behind them.
Hoppers kicked off and within four minutes a series of fast passes along the line had winger Tyler Spence racing over the line leaving the Tynedale defence floundering in his wake.
From the restart Preston dominated the play and a series of scrums and line-outs moved them down the field and again, deft hands and fast passing this time enabled Sam Stott to sprint the last twenty metres and score near the posts. With Davidson’s conversion Hoppers were twelve points to nil up after as many minutes.
The game continued at a high pace with the visitors dominating play in the middle of the field. Then, from a long kick towards the Hoppers’ try line, the Tynedale forwards pressed on and scored through their number 8, Mills.
Hoppers then gave away a series of penalties and scrums. Stott was shown a yellow card which allowed Tynedale to attack deep into the Preston half. Relief came when Davidson cleared a long penalty kick to touch on the Tynedale 10m line.
From the line-out, Conor Trueman collected a pass and made a telling twenty metre run towards the Tynedale 5m line. He delivered the ball to Tyler Spence who took it at speed to score his second try. The conversion from Davidson extended the Hoppers’ lead and with their backs too quick for Tynedale and the forwards dominating the scrums, Hoppers went in with the score at 5 – 19 at half time.
Tynedale restarted the game kicking deep into the Preston half. The ball was not collected cleanly and Tynedale were able to attack the Hoppers’ defence short of the try line. Again a kick to touch on the Preston 10m line relieved the pressure only for Hoppers’ replacement Adam Howard to be judged to have tackled high and he was given a yellow card. Tynedale, now with the advantage, pushed on to put second row Wearmouth in under the posts and the conversion made the score 12 – 19.
The balance was then in Tynedale’s favour and despite Hoppers playing through a series of phases, they couldn’t gain any ground. Two more tries in the space of three minutes from Burden and Miller put the hosts into a bonus point lead at 24 – 19.
Relief for Hoppers finally came when James Fitzpatrick, back playing at 12, scored Hoppers’ bonus point try near the posts and Davidson’s conversion was good. The score stood at 24 – 26.
With a quarter of the match to go, play moved back and forth in a tight contest with Hoppers doggedly defending their 5m line against repeated attacks. A break by Matt Lamprey moved them back towards the Preston 10m line and play then resumed its former pattern of phases back and forth across the field. A penetrating long kick to the Hoppers’ 5m line was caught by James Gough who called for the mark and cleared towards half way.
Tynedale then replaced one of their props and the game went to uncontested scrums.
They maintained pressure on the Hoppers’ pack and two penalty kicks had them attacking the line under the posts with two minutes to go. A second try by Burden in the eighty-ninth minute was converted to put Tynedale in the lead again and then the game descended into confusion.
Hoppers were pressing on the Tynedale line. A large scale scuffle broke out and Ally Murray hit the ground from an apparent elbow in the back. There then followed a good five minutes of discussion between the three officials who decided that no further action was required and Tynedale saw the match out to win 31 – 29.
Head Coach Paul Arnold complimented the team’s performance.
“We did not play badly. Tynedale are a good side who scored nearly sixty points against Fylde. We learnt from our mistakes in the past few games but we were on the wrong end of a couple today. However, we came away with two points and once again we scored four tries away from home.”
Next Saturday is a rest day so supporters can take a breather and watch England take on the All Blacks on the big screen in the club. We now have two weeks until we resume the ‘Big Game Hunt’ when Peterborough Lions come to Lightfoot Green.
Watch this space.
Report by John Le Page, picture by John Austin