Preston Grasshoppers 83-19 Leicester Lions
Preston Grasshoppers 83 – 19 Leicester Lions
By Joshua de Kooker
Hoppers recorded a crushing 83-19 victory over Leicester Lions, avenging their away defeat to the same opponents earlier in the season.
Right from the off, Hoppers dominated possession, territory and the scoreboard with a clinical and ruthless display on a sunny afternoon at Lightfoot Green.
Dom Moon scored the first try in the 4th minute, following good handling and ball movement from Hoppers. It was converted by Sean Taylor, who would go on to record 28 points in a fine individual display.
The Lions hit straight back through Jon Lowdon to make the score 7-5, but from there on in it was one-way traffic, starting immediately from the resulting Hoppers kick-off: Adam Birchall charging down the attempted clearance kick and watching the ball fall kindly for him to score his side’s second try. Taylor missed the conversion, but it was clear that the Hoppers were well on top.
Individual mistakes from the Lions were seriously scuppering their chances at getting anything from the game: three of the five further tries for the home team scored before the break were from costly Lions’ turnovers. Hughes crossed over after a Moon interception and breakaway, Austin added his name to the scoresheet after turnover ball was secured from a Lions’ ruck and Baines finished off after he had forced the Lions into coughing the ball up yet again in midfield. Kindred and Ward were the other try scorers to make it 47-5 at half time.
With the game effectively over, the Lions showed early ambition to score the first try of the second half; captain Gareth Collins doing his utmost to salvage some pride after a poor first half showing from his side, and for the first five minutes of the second half they looked to take the game to the home team.
Hoppers, however, weren’t just content with seeing out the game and piled on the pressure with further tries from Taylor (2), Birchall and Hughes (3) to take his individual tally to four and his team’s try count to 13. Lions managed a very late consolation through Steve Cross, but the game was well over by then and Hoppers ran out convincing winners.
Coach Michael Lough was understandably delighted with the victory, expressing his delight at the strength of the current squad.
“Last year we had somewhat of a soft underbelly, but this year our fitness, technique and aggression have been far better,” he said.
“We rested a few players today, but we had no fears going into this game due to the depth we have here at Hoppers. This Lions team are no mugs, but all week we have been training hard especially at keeping the ball in hand and it paid off today. This expansive style is how we want to play every time we go out there. I think the platform the forwards paved for the backs was superb: they might not always steal the limelight, but today they were instrumental in our victory.” he added.
So a well-deserved victory for the home team, in a game where the score line did accurately display the dominance on show from the Hoppers.
Referee: Brendan Fitzmaurice
Star Man: Matt Hughes
Tries: Moon, Birchall (2), Hughes (4), Austin, Baines, Kindred, Ward, Taylor (2).
Conversions: Taylor (9)
Tries: Lowden, Collins, Cross
Conversions: Lowden (2)
Thanks to Mike Craig for giving us permission to use his excellent photos.