Luctonians Match Report

Date: 23 October 2011

LUCTONIANS                        22        PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS  15

 By Ken Moore

Hoppers’ unbeaten run came to an and at high-flying Luctonians in a close encounter, when Hoppers were again let down by indiscipline, admittedly compounded by getting the rough end of referee Liddell’s justice, the penalty count of 17 to 5 telling the story.

Coach Dave Baldwin summed it up: “We played well in the first half and managed to open up their defence but limited possession and unforced errors restricted our half-time lead. But we were confident, despite playing into the wind in the second period, because we looked good with ball in hand. Luctonians denied us the ball and frustration conceded two tries but we dug deep and stayed in the game for the full 80 minutes.”

Hoppers kicked off with the breeze and sun at their backs but the home side soon put on the pressure. Kickable penalties were spurned in favour of working the touch line and after 10 minutes a strong scrum from the home pack resulted in an easy pick up and try for No.8 Hulland.

The kick failed and, from the restart a break from Owen McKenna found Phil Baines in support and Nathan Fowles rounded off the move, Graham Holroyd converting to put his side in front..

Dominic Moon then upset the referee and was sent to the sin bin but Hoppers defended well but at some cost as scrum half Fowles injured an ankle in a pile up and left the field. However, Luctonians failed to capitalize on the extra man and Hoppers finished the half on the attack to go in 10-5 up at the break.

The home side started the second period strongly and were denied tries twice by handling errors but reduced the arrears with a penalty in the 45th minute.

Hoppers rang the changes from the bench and new signing lock Alex Austin announced his arrival with a strong run but a dropped ball in the 22 was seized upon by the home backs and quick hands put in centre Norris for a converted try.

Hoppers were struggling a little in the tight and Luctonians’ decision to opt for the scrum rather than penalty paid dividends as Hulland barged over for his second try and the kick was good.

Hoppers survived more pressure due to scrambled defence and handling errors by the opposition and at last got their hands on the ball with Austin and Baines making ground. Despite losing Moon to a second yellow card after 73 minutes, they refused to crumble and, from a tap penalty on half way, Matt Charters set off and outpaced a surprised and static defence to score a fine individual try in the corner. The kick failed but the score was enough to earn Hoppers a deserved losing bonus point.


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