Wharfedale vs Preston Grasshoppers

Date: 23 March 2024

Wharfedale 31-21 Preston Grasshoppers

“Hoppers find their self belief too late”

Wharfedale kicked off in overcast conditions, with a light breeze behind their backs. Preston’s defence took the ball into touch and Wharfedale secured their own line out. After several phases of possession Pinder scored an unconverted try after three minutes of play. Wharfedale 5-0 Hoppers.
Preston’s return kick went straight into touch, gifting Dale a scrum on the half way line, which Preston seemed to win, but the assistant referee pointed to handling of the ball by the Hoppers flanker. Scrappy and error- strewn play were evident for most of the first half, with Wharfedale breaking out several times. One of these saw Davidson convert his own try at seventeen minutes, taking the score to Wharfedale 12-0 Preston.

A penalty try at the 32 minute mark gave Dale the advantage by 19-0. This was to be the score at half time, a half that painted a picture of errors and I’ll discipline, and Preston captain Richardson in the sin bin for ten minutes.

This seemed to galvanise Hoppers’ intentions but their attacks were repelled due to the numerical inferiority.

The second half opened to sunshine and a blustery wind. Richardson came back onto the field at the forty third minute mark, but Wharfedale won the early exchanges of the second half, securing a penalty for failing to roll away from the tackle. The subsequent kick to the corner developed into a lineout catch and drive, a rolling maul and an unconverted try by Riddlough on forty five minutes. Wharfedale 24-0 Preston.

Wharfedale then gained sustained possession in attack, and the inevitable penalty came on forty nine minutes. The kick to the corner led to another catch and drive try, by Patchett, on fifty two minutes, converted by Davidson, securing the advantage to Dale by 31-0.

Wharfedale were not to have things their own way, as Preston finally found some self belief. Following an injury to Hunt at stand off, Hoppers’ back line saw a switch, with centre Keohane transferring to the fly half berth. Renewed Preston confidence led to Wharfedale defending waves of Preston attacks, combined phases, and a deft no-look pass by prop Pope going to hand, which was the champagne moment of the game. Following further consistent plays on the right wing, a tap and go penalty gave a deserved try to Pope on sixty one minutes, converted by Keohane.

Despite further errors, inevitable in the by now wet conditions, Preston were looking confident, and further tries by O’Donnell and May on seventy and seventy three minutes were converted by Keohane.

Preston’s renewed vigour in the second half failed to gain them the victory they had fought so hard for in the end.

Final score Wharfedale 31-21 Hoppers.

Report by John Freeman

Back to Rugby Reports Back to Fixtures