Preston Grasshoppers v Westoe 04.05.2013
by Josh de Kooker
Hoppers came away with a deserved 67-31 win over Westoe at Lightfoot Green.
The home side dominated possession and territory throughout, with their forwards in particular making dents in the visitors’ defence throughout and the backs showing off their slick handling skills.
The first try came in the 10th minute, as Ollie Farley crossed over following a break from Josh Purnell. The conversion was missed by Purnell to keep the score at 5-0.
Daniel Rundle, who was the away side’s danger man with pace to burn, then broke superbly down the line for Westoe and good support from Joseph McKenzie led to the try for Louis Hagan: the conversion by Luke Moffett put Westoe 7-5 ahead.
This started a frantic 10 minutes, with four further tries scored. Matt Hughes was put through first after some killer offloads from Sam Kindred and Rich Morton. Rundle then replied in blazing fashion for Westoe as he sprinted from well inside his own half, leaving the Hoppers’ defence chasing shadows to put the away side 14-10 up.
Ed Webster then surged through for his first try of the afternoon, followed soon after by Adam Birchall, who backed himself to go over in the corner despite having plenty of support either side from his tireless teammates.
The home team definitely ended the first half the stronger: Webster scoring his second after superb handling by Kilian Wallace to make the score 29-14 at the half.
Three tries in 10 second half minutes through Hughes, Rich Morton, whose try saw him break the 200 point barrier for the Hoppers, and Birchall killed the game off after the break: all were converted by Ollie Farley to give the whites a 50-14 advantage.
Richard Burrows (2) and the dangerous Rundle pulled scores back for Westoe, but further tries from Wallace, Dan Madden and Birchall for his hat trick closed the game out for Hoppers: Birchall’s try in particular came as a result of some Simon Zebo-esque footwork from the centre after Sam Kindred’s pass evaded his initial grasp.
In a game full of great performances, Chris Gale stood out with some powerful running, Sam Kindred kept things moving at the breakdown whilst the back line always looked dangerous with ball in hand. However, it was Killian Wallace who really caught the eye; the flanker putting in a tireless performance at 6 whilst wreaking havoc at the opposition breakdown and with ball in hand.
Coach Michael Lough was satisfied with his team’s performance, especially due to the enforced changes made due to a number of the first team being called up for the Lancashire county side.
“It was a loose game, as it was at their place earlier in the season, and you could see that the boys were tired by the end of the game. But this game emphasised the strength in depth we have here and we were never in danger of losing this one” he said.
“Their tries all came from deep, with their winger (Rundle) looking very dangerous with ball in hand. But our forwards really showed their class today, putting in a tireless shift up front,” he added.
Star Man – Killian Wallace
Half time: 29-14
Attendance – 314
Hoppers; 15.Horsfall, 14.Hamilton, 13.Birchall, 12.Farley, 11.Hughes, 10.Purnell, 9.Kindred: 1.Launders, 2.Gale, 3.Morton (c) , 4.Madden, 5.Steel, 6.Wallace, 7.Webster, 8.Austin.
17. Holmes, 18. Aspinall, 19. McKenna, 20. Allen
Tries: Farley (10), Hughes (16, 45), Webster (23, 37), Birchall (25, 50, 74), Morton (48), Wallace (65), Madden (71).
Conversions: Farley (24, 38, 46, 49, 51, 66).
Westoe; 15. Hagan, 14. Rundle, 13. Burrows, 12. Roberts, 11. Laycock, 10. Moffett, 9. Potts: 1.Loughran, 2. Walker, 3. Elliott, 4. J Younghusband (c), 5. Kirton, 6. McGuigan, 7. McKenzie, 8. Coulson
16. Fahmi, 18. Wilson, 19. Little, 21. Roberts, 22. T. Younghusband.
Tries: Hagan (14), Rundle (18, 60), Burrows (53, 68).
Conversions: Moffett (15, 19, 54).