Hoppers in the Grove

Phil Mills scored Preston Grasshoppers
Phil Mills scored Preston Grasshoppers
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Bromsgrove 13, Hoppers 29

Although opponents Bromsgrove are looking likely relegation candidates, this could have been a banana skin for Hoppers.

But, with a few players returning from injury, this was a strong team performance with No.10 Lloyd Davies turning in a polished performance in only his third start for his new club.

Head coach Michael Lough was in buoyant mood: “A great team performance and our improving form over the last few weeks at last produced a deserved result.

“We did not start well but our defence was good, we did not panic and stuck to the game plan.

“Lloyd Davies was outstanding and, although it is difficult to single out other players, Will Lees made a big contribution coming off the bench.”

With backs very much against the wall, Bromsgrove started strongly and dominated possession in the first quarter but Hoppers defence held and the home side was restricted to a solitary penalty before Davies’s left boot started to earn good field position.

After a line out drive was held up over the line, Phil Mills battled over and Davies converted after 20 minutes.

Play then settled in the home 22 and, after more forward pressure, quick ball from a scrum saw Davies break the tackle to score at the posts and convert.

As the half drew to a close, the respective fly halves exchanged penalties to give Hoppers a 17-6 advantage at the break.

With a mountain to climb, Bromsgrove upped their game and their backs twice broke Hoppers line but it was a defensive mistake that gifted them a try.

Davies was unable to take a wild pass on his own line and lock Smith scored the simplest of tries, the kick reducing the deficit to just four points with 47 minutes on the clock.

But Hoppers regained their composure, responding straight away as Craig Aikman made amends for his earlier mistake by putting Jack Ward through a gap and the big centre shrugged off some tackles to score at the posts, Davies adding the extras.

The last 20 minutes was all Hoppers with the pack well on top and, after a long period of sustained pressure, the ball was released and a long miss pass found debutant wing Conor Trueman in oceans of space to score unopposed in the corner for the bonus point try.