Hell at Harrogate for Hoppers

Sean Taylor tied to get Hoppers on the attack

Sean Taylor tied to get Hoppers on the attack

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Harrogate 15 Preston Grasshoppers 5

Hoppers fell to defeat again, this time in miserable conditions at cross-Pennine rivals Harrogate.

After a bright start, Preston failed to match the territory game that worked for the hosts in the driving rain and lost out on a bonus point by over playing in their own 22.

Head coach Garth Dew said: “In terms of commitment we put our bodies on the line defensively and I’m pleased with the effort.

“However, we showed naivety in difficult conditions and soft penalties cost us.

“I’m not panicking at this stage, as it’s off the back of two good wins but with some better decisions this could have been a different result.

“We start well every week and got an early try and I was really pleased with the intensity but we tried to play too much.

“In the second half, they played better and we lost discipline.

“We had a yellow card for a push off the ball and a couple of pens for back chat. Harrogate have a good fly-half who pinned us back well and was the difference in these conditions.

“I thought some of the decisions against us at the scrum were a bit harsh especially in the first half but we got better as the game went on, the line-out went okay but we were just not winning enough ball and were forced to defend for long periods.”

Hoppers did start well, playing into the wind ,and after two clever chips over the top from Sean Taylor got them deep into the 22, they disrupted the Harrogate line-out, with Ally Murray powering his way over in the corner.

Harrogate were relying on fly-half Callum Irvine to move them around the park and his kicking game led to a line-out that was successfully gathered, before Tim Heaton touched down the driving maul to level the scores.

Neither side could add any points before the break.

But Harrogate took the lead just minutes into the second half when Lewis Minikin landed a penalty from just outside the 22.

Hoppers rarely got into Harrogate territory and things got worse when John Mackenzie was shown a yellow card. The home side were camped in the 22 for most of the sin-bin period but a resolute Hoppers defence kept them out.

Hoppers looked like securing a losing bonus point until a mix-up when trying to run the ball out of the 22 presented the ball to replacement Chris Wilson, who strolled in to seal the victory.

Dew added: “We need to learn lessons from games like this and I believe we will, the bonus point could have been valuable come the end of the season. We targeted three or four wins in November and have come away with two, so it’s another huge game against Leicester Lions next week and then a trip to Huddersfield, which is certainly winnable.”