Huddersfield 6 – 47 Preston Grasshoppers
Hoppers put in a dominating display to secure a bonus point victory over a Huddersfield side who look doomed to relegation. They ran in seven tries as they controlled the entire game with a ferocious defence and a clinical attack.
A delighted head coach Michael Lough said; “we’ve run in seven tries and could have had at least two more which were brought back for a forward pass. I am really happy with the performance as it was going to be a challenge on a heavy pitch but our physicality was immense from 1-20. Even though we had a little lull and started to concede a few penalties but the guys were able to regroup well”
“Our defence was amazing and we never looked like conceding, I’m also thrilled we scored twice when down to 14 men as we were able to maintain the pressure.”
While this was a great team performance Lough did give extra praise to a few players; “I thought Lewis Allen played really well, as did Jack Ward and Sean Taylor, whose kicking was superb. Also Ali Murray had a great game and was very physical. Again our fitness was excellent and this showed in our defence as we were still strong at the end”
Hoppers controlled the game from the outset with powerful carries through the middle of the home defence together with their usual blend of style out wide. The set piece also went well especially the driving line out which has become a real weapon.
The game was effectively wrapped up in the first six minutes as Hoppers scored two tries before the hosts had any real possession of the ball.
Both tries started with a good kick to the corner and a strong line out. Hoppers would then power their way up the middle with Matt Hughes being put into a huge gap for the first score and while Huddersfield initially did well to resist Hoppers second a superbly weighted kick through by Allen was touched down by Ward. Taylor converted both for a 14-0 lead.
Hoppers were then guilty of a slight dip and allowed Huddersfield to get back into the game; the visitors became a little lateral in attack and conceded a few penalties which wing Luke Booth turned into Huddersfield’s only points with two successful kicks.
Craig Aikman would score on the half hour mark to wrestle back control, finishing off a well worked scrum move as Dominic Moon and Taylor made good ground before Aikman picked a great line to sprint clear.
Gareth Gore was sin binned just before the break but two tries in his absence to start the second half secured the bonus point and stopped any chance of a home fight back. Andy Napier was at the heart of both tries to cap another fine display. First with a superb offload to put Hughes over in the right corner following another good line out drive with Andy Irving carrying well to set up quick ball which Hoppers exploited well out wide.
Straight from the restart Napier’s powerful surge up the middle, well supported by Moon and Mo Mustafa, got Hoppers well over the gain line and once again good fast hands out wide stretched the home defence with Adam Birchall crossing in the left corner. Taylor converted both brilliantly from each touchline.
Excellent defence would lead to the final two tries as a Birchall interception and run ended with Ward crossing for his second and a Conor Murphy turnover in the 22 allowed Rich Morton and Allen to put Hughes over for his hat-trick.
Hoppers have now won four in a row and will be looking to build on the momentum and possibly go on another string run as they did in the first half of the season.
Thanks to Mike Craig for giving us permission to use his photos below.