Kendal 22 – 13 Preston Grasshoppers
Head Coach Dave Baldwin was disappointed with the result coming after a good performance the previous week and felt that his side should have got something out of the game. He said; “we tried to play behind the gain line too much and that wasn’t easy in poor conditions and our kicking game wasn’t good, Kendal played with good line speed and a solid set piece and kicked tactically better.”
Hoppers came out second best in a scrappy local derby against Kendal at Mint Bridge. With the typical Cumbrian welcome of strong wind and pouring rain neither side was able produce too much free flowing attacking rugby but the hosts handled the conditions better and were able to use them and their physical pack to grind out a victory.
It was an abysmal start for Hoppers who found themselves 14 points down after five minutes with Kendal benefiting from two interceptions in midfield. Dave Barton rounded off a free flowing counter attack to open Kendal’s account but Hoppers missed several tackles and could easily have prevented the try. Things went from bad to worse minutes later when an ill advised quick line out put Hoppers on the back foot and Ian Voortman shot out of the line to snatch the ball and cross beneath the posts untouched; Mark Ireland converted both tries and gave Kendal a lead which they never relinquished.
Hoppers did strike back quickly as Matt Hughes added to his impressive early season tally with a well taken try. The pack made good progress through the middle and sucked in the home defence before Graham Holroyd’s perfectly weighted cross kick was collected by Hughes who beat his man and coasted in from outside the 22, Holroyd added the conversion and two penalties as Hoppers looked to get back into the contest but an Ireland penalty gave Kendal a four point advantage at the break.
Kendal rarely offered much in attack besides from the two interception tries but Hoppers were guilty of trying to be too clever and played themselves into trouble on numerous occasions, running in difficult conditions was never going to be easy and Kendal’s simple and conservative approach paid off into a strong wind.
The second half was an even more frustrating affair as a combination of bad luck, poor decisions and some interesting officiating squandered numerous scoring opportunities.
Ireland was unable to convert a fairly straightforward penalty from 40m out and Kendal’s pack, after stealing a Hoppers line out, were guilty of blocking while trying to set up a driving maul. Hoppers also failed to convert gilt edge chances of there own as they were brought back for a dubious forward pass when Phil Baines looked to be in the clear and knocked on in the shadow of the posts following a Matt Charters break when it looked like the Captain was going to score on his return to his former club.
Kendal increased their lead and in doing so denied Hoppers even a consolatory bonus point when veteran tight head Richard Harryman powered over from close range, again the defence and officiating were sloppy but Hoppers still had time to get themselves back into the game. They created a couple of half chances but turned the ball over twice in the Kendal 22 to sum up a miserable day.
There were few positives to take from the game but Charters and Mark Philips put in tireless performances and young scrum half Nathan Fowles looks sharp when given quick ball but Hoppers will need to learn from the mistakes quickly, starting next week against a struggling Leicester Lions.
Andrew Irving, Allan Martindale (Phil Mills), Mark Irving (Chris Lowden), Mark Rigbye, Ali Atkinson, Mark Phillips, Matt Charters, Dom Moon (Killian Wallace), Nathan Fowles, Graham Holroyd (Mark Edwards), Matt Hughes, Karl Fitzpatrick, Tom Hughes, Phil Baines (Russ Flynn), Sean Taylor
Mick Craig took some great pictures of yesterday’s game which can be viewed here.