Sheffield Tigers 17 – 30 Preston Grasshoppers
Photo courtesy of Mick Craig
Preston Grasshoppers recorded their first away win of the season with a confident victory over newly promoted Sheffield Tigers. While only scoring two tries Hoppers were in control for most of the contest and only a lapse in concentration and a few needless penalties presented the hosts with scoring opportunities.
Head Coach Dave Baldwin was in high spirits after the games, saying; “I am delighted with our first away win, this should give the team plenty of confidence moving forward as we look to improve. It was a strong defensive performance and when we took the lead we played a good tactical field position game.”
Hoppers didn’t enjoy the best start as Sheffield looked dangerous on the wings but some good covering defence kept the Tigers at bay. The opening 20 minutes brought few try scoring opportunities but the score board kept ticking with an array of penalties. Graham Holroyd and Jonny West exchanged early penalties and the host’s ill discipline cost them further allowing Holroyd to add two further kicks giving Hoppers a 12-6 lead mid way through the half.
Sheffield then struck from a well rehearsed line out move as the ball was moved quickly from left to right where their two speedy wingers combined with Alex Graham’s perfectly timed inside ball allowing Jamie Broadley a free run to the line.
Hoppers enjoyed a strong finish to the half and took all the momentum that the Sheffield had earned through there try. After a good kick and chase the Tigers kicked aimlessly away inviting Sean Taylor to counter, the full back made good ground and was able to set up Matt Hughes for a try to who continue his fine scoring run. Holroyd added the extras and was successful with another penalty minutes later to stretch Hoppers lead to 22-11 at the break.
Sheffield started the second half in similar fashion to the first and again had Hoppers under a bit of pressure, West slotted a penalty to reduce the gap to eight points, when Hoppers were penalised for side entry, but was unsuccessful with an attempt minutes later and Sheffield never managed to get themselves within a score the lead.
The referee finally got fed up with the number of penalties the hosts were conceding and midway through the half Tom Outram was yellow carded infringing on the 22 to stop a dangerous Hoppers attack, Holroyd knocked over the penalty but West replied minutes later as Hoppers were once again adjudged to be offside.
Hoppers were reduced to 14 men almost as soon as Sheffield returned to full strength when Ali Atkinson incurred the wrath of the referee for killing a maul. Sheffield again went for the line out close to the line but Hoppers turned the ball over and replacement Phil Mills and Nathan Fowles broke away and after a couple of phases of play Owen McKenna, returning to the first XV latched onto a well weighted kick to score to seal a well deserved victory.
Hoppers will still be looking to improve as they once again gave away a number of penalties but this wasn’t helped by some odd officiating decisions all around the park. There were again a number of key performances across the team; the set piece was improved the work around the breakdown was impressive and once again the backs showed given space they are capable of cutting through any defence. Baldwin identified Dominic Moon’s efforts in defence and Holroyd’s all round game and near perfect kicking display both off the tee and out of hand as key factors in the victory.
The following is taken from the excellent website www.rugbyroundup.com