Preston Grasshoppers 10 Huddersfield 17

Date: 04 December 2011

Huddersfield shaded this fierce, physical battle in blustery conditions on a sticky surface but Hoppers were well worth their bonus point and should have made more of dominant possession and territory in the second period. Head Coach Dave Baldwin praised the commitment shown by all his players and thought that it was a game that could and should have been won. “The pack played well, having the edge in the tight and producing some effective driving mauls. Chris Gale and Connor Murphy, making his first start, stood out while Richard Morton caused real problems in the loose. Despite dominating possession and territory, especially in the second period, some unforced errors and wrong decisions cost us the game – we were the better side on the day.”

Shorn of our two rugby league converts, Graham Holroyd and Sean Long, to injury and Help for Heroes respectively, Hoppers particularly missed the former’s kicking and control at fly half. They had the better of the first quarter with some powerful forward drives and took the lead in the 5th minute with a penalty from Mark Edwards. Then quick ball from a line out was collected by Chris Gale on the peel and he put in No.8 Connor Murphy for a well worked try, converted by Edwards.

Huddersfield used the high ball tactic to gain ground and, although Sean Taylor fielded well, Hoppers started to infringe, and ace kicker Chris Johnson helped himself to three penalties to close the gap to one point at the break.

Hoppers’ pack kept the pressure on at the restart but, on a rare visit into enemy territory, Field went through the phases and created the overlap to put wing Adam Ryder in at the corner on 53 minutes. The kick failed but the visitors had got their noses in front at 14-10. Hoppers again camped in the away half with full back Sean Taylor fielding clearance kicks and making ground but, despite coming close on several occasions, were unable to turn pressure into points and Johnson had the last word with his fourth penalty.

Star Man; Sean Taylor (Hoppers)

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