PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS 17 TYNEDALE 10
By Ken Moore
Hoppers claimed another National 1 scalp as they finished strongly to claim victory over Tynedale in this pre-season friendly. The conditions played a major part since the game was punctuated by several torrential downpours and open, running rugby proved a high-risk option although both sides tried to bring their backs into play.
Forwards Coach, Alan Holmes was pleased with his charges’ performance: “We fronted up well and had the better of the exchanges in the tight at key periods and new signings Gareth Gore and Eddie Webster fitted in well. Credit also to the backs whose aggressive defence contained a potentially dangerous back-line.”
Play was fast and furious at the start with the wet ball causing some handling errors and the style of play was soon set as both packs battled it out at close quarters. Hoppers were first on the scoreboard as they drove over from an attacking lineout, Gore claiming the touch down.
Tynedale responded immediately when quick ball from a scrum in the enemy 22 and fast hands created an overlap for winger Peter Moralee to level the scores.
After the visiting pack was pushed off their own ball, Hoppers’ forwards produced more strong drives and, as half time beckoned, new captain and No.8 Dominic Moon made a superb break to put Matt Gargett in at the corner but the wing lost control of the slippery ball in the act of touching down so it remained all square at the break.
In a rare fine period, Tynedale started the second half with more purpose and sustained pressure saw No.8 Oliver Steadman pick up at the base of a scrum to drive over and give his side a 5-point advantage. The visitors continued to dominate possession and looked favourites to close out the game but Hoppers’ sound defence kept them out.
As a succession of player interchanges followed and the heavens opened again, Hoppers’ pack again grabbed the initiative and on 65 minutes prop Andy Irving was driven over and Lewis Allen’s conversion put his side two points ahead.
With conditions deteriorating, Hoppers continued to deny Tynedale the ball and, right on time, another powerful drive from a lineout saw lock Gore touch down to cap an impressive debut and secure the win.
Next Saturday, Hoppers start their league programme when they entertain newly-promoted Darlington Mowden Park. Kick off is at 2.30pm.
Below are some photos taken by Mike Craig. Thanks once again Mike for allowing us to use these.