WESTOE 17 PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS 47
This game was effectively over after Hoppers’ opening onslaught saw them run in 4 tries and get the resulting bonus point within the first 10 minutes. For the second week running, they scored in the opening minute as Sean Taylor broke from the back and re-gathered his skilful chip ahead to put Phil Baines in at the corner.
The South Shields outfit, admittedly plagued with injuries, had no answer to the sustained attack and another Taylor break and a great pick up from Dominic Moon was rounded off by Lewis Allen’s first touchdown in a Hoppers’ shirt.
A dropped ball was then seized upon by the effervescent Taylor whose pace took him to the line before his break straight from kick off put in Moon and the full back added icing to the cake by converting all four tries.
Westoe were already into a damage limitation exercise and at last managed to get their hands on the ball and, as Hoppers ambition produced a few errors, home hooker Thirkell was driven over from a 5-metre line out on 17 minutes.
The tide was stemmed for 10 minutes or so until a half-break in the centre from Jack Ward put Conor Murphy through and Matt Hughes was under the posts, Taylor adding the extras. Murphy again made ground from the kick off reception and fed Sam Kindred for his side’s 6th try and although the kick failed Hoppers were out of sight at 40-5 at the break.
Hoppers rang the changes from the bench and lost some fluency at the beginning of the second period allowing the hosts to get into the game and, after a series of forward drives had been well defended, the ball was released for home fly half Haswell to cut through for a converted try.
This stung Hoppers back into action and more fast hands put in Baines for his second although the wing had a lot to do to get to the line, Taylor converting.
After 65 minutes replacement Ali Murray was sin-binned for a technical offence and Westoe took advantage as lock Younghusband galloped through despite a palpable knock on, clearly signaled by the touch judge.
Assistant coach Allan Holmes said: “This was a good away win and, to be critical, we should have scored more points. But going that far ahead so early in the game sometimes means that you lose your focus. But we played some good rugby and, playing without the unavailable Sean Long and Karl Fitzpatrick, it gave us the opportunity to give valuable game time to our promising younger players who all responded well.”
Next week Hoppers host Birmingham and Solihull who were relegated from National 1 last season.