HULL RUFC 31 PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS 36
Hoppers got back to winning ways albeit the hard way at the Ferens Ground on Saturday with a bonus-point win as they shaded a high-scoring, entertaining contest. With just 9 minutes on the clock, the visitors found themselves 16 points adrift and things looked bleak. Things went wrong from kick off when a botched reception gifted the home side possession and fly half Lound kicked a resulting penalty, a feat repeated 4 minutes later.
Hoppers at last got hold of the ball and a run by Phil Baines threatened the home line only for the final pass to be intercepted and home lock Lee Brown galloped the length of the field, Lound converting and then adding a third penalty.
Relieved coach, Michael Lough said: “Hull started on fire and really put us under pressure but we always felt that, if we could win possession, we could make an impact. It was a loose, free-scoring and error-strewn game which, early doors, was extremely frustrating but overall it was a good full team performance with centre Jack Ward particularly having an outstanding game.”
Having weathered the opening onslaught, Hoppers started to settle down with the backs making inroads. First Matt Hughes rounded off a slick move before setting off on a mazy run to put in Sean Taylor who converted the first and followed up with a penalty after more sustained pressure. Having dominated possession and territory in the second quarter, Hoppers could have expected more than a one point deficit, going in 15-16 down at the break.
Hull were again straight on to the attack at the restart, setting up a 5-metre lineout from which flanker Dorrington was driven over to extend the lead to 6 points. But Hoppers responded immediately and more pressure produced a try for Dominic Moon and Taylor’s conversion put his side ahead for the first time.
Line breaks continued by both sides with Hoppers still having the better of the exchanges and, after several near misses, Ward crashed over after 65 minutes and Taylor again converted.
Fearing that they were losing touch, the Hull pack raised their game making ground with some pick and drives and eventually centre Hewitt went in at the corner to reduce the arrears to just 3 points.
Again the pendulum swung and Ward’s strong break in midfield allowed Karl Fitzpatrick to scamper in at the posts and Taylor added the extras to secure the win. But the hosts were still not finished and, deep into added time, with Hoppers mentally in the changing room, Hewitt scored his second touchdown to give his side the consolation of two losing bonus points.
Thanks to video analyst Matt Coleridge for compiling the video highlights below.